I didn't bother watching this when it was originally on television, thinking that the Emma Thompson film was so good that nothing would match it and so I just wouldn't bother. Having watched the dvd under some persuasion from a friend, I'm quite ashamed of my ignorance and wish I'd watched it back then. This is simply an excellent adaptation which shows up faults I hadn't noticed before in the film version.
Charity Wakefield is a strikingly good actress, her portrayal of Marianne Dashwood makes that of Kate Winslet seem rather wooden. Wakefield exudes the natural, unaffected character of Marianne with so much depth that she truly lifts the heart and soul out of Austen's creation and is a joy to watch. Although Wakefield stands out in the cast, the other characters also are more 'real' and believable here. David Morrissey is a much more sympathetic Brandon, and you wonder how Marianne could ever have failed to fall in love with him at first sight. There is a really palpable sense of his having the same passionate, romantic nature as Marianne, which has been subdued by bitter past experience, only to be reawakened and eventually noticed by Marianne.
The settings, too, are sumptuously evocative. The cottage to which to Dashwoods move is no twee chocolate box cottage but a neglected, wind-swept house which combines the Romantic,desolate beauty of the wind swept Devonshire coast with the stark depiction of the poverty into which the family have descended, mirrored in Marianne's joy at her new surroundings and Elinor's practicality and concern at the challenges of their enforced new life. Add to the glorious scenery and excellent performances, the tempestuous and haunting music which permeates throughout, and you have a truly beautiful adaptation. One to keep and treasure.
on 3 October 2010
My review is more to do with the quality of the DVD than the film itself.
Having seen the mini serie on TV I bought the DVD as in some way I hope to
support these kind of productions this way. But I am very disappointed as
scenes have been cut out from the DVD version. Why on earth is this necessary?
And why isn't there a note mentioning this? In future I better stick to my
recordings from TV.
on 11 February 2012
If you have the least inclination to buy this, do! The DVD consists of three hour-long episodes, which feels just right - the pacing isn't rushed as it would be in a film, but nothing feels superfluous either.
Where to start with the good points of this adaptation? I'm sure I'll end up forgetting something, so let me start by saying that, in my opinion, this is the definitive version of Sense and Sensibility. I loved the 1996 film version, and am an avid Austen reader. But this adaptation trumps all, for me - yes, even the book. Note perfect in every way, I know I'll revisit it again and again, and only consider it a shame I waited so long to see it in the first place. With a screenplay by Andrew Davies and a showing on the Beeb, this deserves just as much admiration as their 1995 Pride and Prejudice, and is comparatively unknown. It's a real shame.
Alright then, the main selling points :
- Script. Wonderful. The characters are all well-drawn and likeable, and all the major relationships (Marianne and Wickham, Marianne and Brandon, Elinor and Edward) are given lots of time to develop. This is where the running time really trumps the film version. No character feels neglected, and even Fanny Dashwood and little Margaret get their fair share of screentime, something which really builds the sense of family.
- Casting. Again, excellent. The characters are cast younger than in the film, much closer to their ages in the book, and although I will admit to sorely missing Alan Rickman's Colonel Brandon, the characters are perfect. Marianne in particular perfectly aligns with my mental image of her, and Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars steers his character away from its occasional tendency to seem weak, and onto firmer ground. He's not foolish, but is bound by honour, and unlike the rakish Willoughby, actually stands firm on it. Willoughby is another excellent choice. Dominic Cooper is effortlessly convincing as both a cad and a seducer, but also does a wonderful job of portraying a man falling in love almost against his will. Jean Marsh (of Upstairs Downstairs fame) is another delight as the domineering Mrs Ferrars. (As much as I admire both actresses, it is so nice to see these roles go to someone other than Dames Maggie Smith or Judi Dench.) Mark Gatiss dons a red wig and puts in a suitably oily performance as John Dashwood, and little Margaret Dashwood is a treasure to watch.
- Music. Costumes. Cinematography. All are outstanding.
An adaptation is more than just people saying the words, it's putting on a show, and that's done here to beautiful effect. It's a pleasure to immerse yourself in this world for a few hours. Here's hoping the BBC will give Jane's other works a look - it would be lovely to see them get such treatment. (Or even the Bronte sisters. I'd love to see something like Agnes Grey receive such a rendering.)
Put simply - it's a classic.
on 2 February 2008
After being so impressed with the 1996 version of Sense and Sensibility, I wondered what a new version could really offer. But this version was spectacular, it really portrayed the characters well, the acting is superb, the scenery stunning and the costumes suitably lovely. Edward Ferrars from the film version was pretty bland, and his relationship with Elinor was sidelined so it was nice to see their storyline get more attention in this adaptation. Hattie Morahan is perfect at portraying Elinor while Charity Wakefield is very convincing as the less sensible sister, Marianne. The other actors are brilliant, and in my opinion this adaptation is actually better than the 1996 version, not least because the two main characters are the right age.
This is very, very enjoyable. It takes liberties over and above the necessary short-cutting and telescoping which inevitably arise in a filmed version of a full-length novel, but it is very watchable and a lot of fun. The settings are, of course, grand (where appropriate) and beautiful, with a particularly Romantic 'Devonshire' cottage for the distressed Dashwoods, visually lovely but also (inside) very cold! The casting is spot-on. Hattie Morahan as Elinor has a most intelligent and expressive face and never puts a foot wrong in her reactions ; she judges the controlled passion of the character, who lives under painful stress for a good part of the film without being able to reveal it, quite perfectly, and when finally Edward is able to voice his feelings, her tearful, inarticulate joy is most moving. This is an outstanding performance. Charity Wakefield plays the good-hearted, headstrong Marianne to a T, and their mother is the excellent Janet McTear, who conveys the bewilderment and dignified lack of practicality of one in her position wholly convincingly. Edmund and Willoughby are both good and I must say I found David Morrissey better than Alan Rickman, good as he was, in the famous film, pace another reviewer. Rickman is a mannered actor - a very good one - and he was too creepily lugubrious for me, whereas Morrissey is dignified, well-bred, reserved as he should be and (actually) also very dashing - lucky Marianne, in the end, though she has to go through a lot before she gets there. The background music is sometimes intrusive, but that's not a serious problem. The film ends delightfully, with Brandon carrying his young wife into his splendid country mansion and Elinor, laughing, watching Edward chasing chickens round their parsonage yard. It's a lovely adaptation and very enjoyable to watch.
There have been very many film productions of this novel, but this one is a cut above them all, matching even Emma Thompson's Oscar-winning cinema version. Here we have, from the very first scene, a potent, dramatic and fresh take on the novel. Director John Alexander, seems to have never made it to the big screen, but his vision and ability illuminates every frame of this mini-series. I have read the novel many times, and know it well, but Alexander manages to inject something new and startling into this all-too-familiar tale of the Dashwoods, their fall from wealthy society, and the ensuing plight of the elder two of the three daughters.
The production values are worthy, and the BBC has furnished the series with what appears to be a suitable budget to do it justice. The score is wonderfully evocative of the mood, conjuring drama and romance aplenty throughout. The photography is also tremendous, and seems to takes it influence from Lord Leighton paintings, One moment in episode two is certainly taken straight from Leighton's painting "Invocation".
If the series has a weakness, it is in its similarity to Thompson's version. Barton Cottage has an almost identical floor plan, as does the structure of some of the scenes. That said, the plot stays very close to the novel, and throws in plenty elsewhere that is original but entirely in keeping. The casting is excellent, as is the acting. Hattie Morahan (Elinor Dashwood) and the startlingly photogenic Charity Wakefield (Marianne Dashwood) do fine work here. I am perplexed at why Wakefield, for whom this was her first screen role, never capitalized on this performance to go beyond doing stints in "Casualty" and the like, as she commands every scene in which she appears.
There are some decent extras. We have a commentary by Elinor Dashwood, Edward Ferris, the director and producer, though they sometimes seem at a loss to know what to say. There's also an interview with producer and script writer, in which much needless comparison is made with Thompson's movie version, as if the two were in competition, which they were not. That said, when the series was first broadcast, the BBC introduced it by mentioning the movie, which was a silly thing to do as the series is every bit as good as the movie in every respect.
Overall, this adaptation really is a must-have in any costume drama fan's collection. It is the BBC doing what it does so very well - producing a masterclass of acting and production, fabulous on-location shooting (in this case with all the drama of the windswept Devon coastline), and wonderful scripting, which makes the series entertaining and surprisingly original. It is such a good series, I wonder why on earth the BBC produces such gems, and then steadfastly refuses to give them a repeat showing. Goodness know, plenty of drivel seems to merit endless repeats.
on 15 September 2015
What an absolute crock of mush, the scenery is nice but found the story did not flow.
Felt very jagged and a lot of wooden acting. Disappointed since David Morrissey is one of the main characters not even much worth a watch for him staring in it.
Considering this version is done in episodes still felt very rushed and not allowed to develop OH and again the wooden acting, emotionally stunted acting by the lovers, not much better than a rushed amateur performance down the local community center
on 10 December 2013
An exceptional performance by Hattie Morahan as the guiding "sense" in Jane Austen's tale (the best Austen turn I've seen on film with the possible exception of Amanda Root in Persuasion). The restraint she's brings to her portrayal is utterly true to Georgian values and to the character Austen has written. Her delicacy and her manners, are perfectly pitched. She is marvellous. So, indeed, is the whole production, with the exception of two tiny moments. I wanted Willoughby, the romantic, Byronic hero of Marianne's dreams to arrive hot and sweaty on a white charger, not simply on foot. And at the end I wanted a close-up on Elinor's face as it dawns on her that Edward can be hers after all. We deserved that. But, do favour this Sense & Sensibility above all others. Hattie is to die for.
on 19 April 2009
Ok, I was first drawn into the world of jane Austin as a teenager, taking my girlfried to the cinema see Ang Lee's fabulous 1995 film adaptation of S&S. Since then, I have learnt that Ms Austin has a very exacting and passionate band of die-hard followers, and therefore, any future adaptation of S&S simply 'had' to come up to scratch.
So here I am now, a thirty something, fairly blokish bloke, writing a review of this latest mini series from the BBC... and I'm happy to say that I absolutely loved it. Hattie Morahan & Charity Wakefield were beautifully cast as the 'sensible' Elinor & the 'passionate' Marianne. David Morrissey put in a simply fabulous & emotional performance as Colonel Brandon. Noble, reserved and honourable. Very British. Dan Stevens did a wonderful job of protraying the bumbling, gentle and frustrated Edward Ferrars and Dominic Cooper brought a new, almost derranged, darkness to the deceitful Willoughby. The entire cast in fact, add new personal dimentions to their characters that was really very refreshing.
A note on the screenplay & derection. The inclusion of charaters omitted from other adaptations was unexpected and a lovely surprise. Scenes not in, but referred to in the book, and given the full directorial treatment add a dramatic edge to an already simmering plot. Additionally, through a combination of great acting and brilliant direction, you really get a feel for the entirely hopeless situation of the central characters in the opening episode. This makes for an ever more uplifting voyage through this timeless story.
I am cautious not to draw too many comparisons between the book and past adaptations, as I am always delighted to experience the diversity of interpretaion artistic licence caters for. However, to keep the die-hards happy, the script remains faithful, the settings appropriately dramatic, and the costume choices inspired. This is television that the BBC does well, and on this occasion, very well indeed. I will re-visit this adaptation for years to come, and my only gripe is that the BBC has not (yet) given it the Blu-Ray treatment. recommended and commended in every respect.
on 15 January 2008
It was with some trepidation that I sat down to watch yet another Austen adaptation. I have to say, though, I did enjoy watching this. It is beautifully filmed in stunning locations, and is a gentle, relaxing way of spending an evening.
I have watched the 1995 film many times, so having new faces to the characters was odd at first. In some cases I grew to prefer the new cast, although I still missed a few of the familiar faces. It was nice to have a younger cast. Charity Wakefield played Marianne well, although I felt there wasn't nearly as much sense of heartbreak as there was in the 1995 version. However, I did like the way we could see Marianne beginning to fall for Colonel Brandon, unlike the film, where she just seems to end up with him.
Hattie Morohan's performance as Elinor was also excellent, although, as with Marianne's part, I felt like her seperation from Edward was more of an inconvenience than the loss of a love. My favorite performance wasn't one of the major characters, but Janet McTeer as Mrs Dashwood. I thought she played her part absolutely perfectly. David Morrissey also deserves a mention for his very convincing portrayal of Colonel Brandon, Alan Rickman's shoes are hard to fill, but Morrissey has managed to make the part his own. I didn't like Willoughby in this version. He wasn't remotely dashing, as Willoughby really ought to be. Also, Mrs Jennings was far too quiet and not nearly as gossipy and teasing as Austen so cleverly wrote her.
This adaptation is effectively a longer version of the film. Sometimes this is a good thing, giving more depth into scenes that were skimmed over in the film. Some of the lengthened scenes, however, don't add anything to the overall story, there was the scene with a duel for instance, tacked onto the start of an episode and never mentioned again. To what end? I did like this, and will probably watch it again at some point, but whenever I feel the urge to watch Sense & Sensibility I have a feeling I'll be reaching for the 1995 film, with its wonderful emotional rollercoaster ride, rather than this (albeit very pretty) fluffiness.
Overall this is definitely worth watching, but feels as though it's lacking something...