Sense And Sensibility (BBC)  [DVD]
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A BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's famous novel. Sisters Elinor (Irene Richard) and Marianne (Tracey Childs) Dashwood lose their family fortune to spiteful relatives, and are forced to seek out suitable husbands in order to survive. While Marianne falls for the heartless John Willoughby (Peter Woodward), Elinor finds herself attracted to Edward Ferrars (Bosco Hogan), who is himself betrothed to Lucy Steele (Julia Chambers). Will the sisters find the romance they are hoping for?
On one level, the BBC's 1981 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility is a classic example of old-fashioned Sunday teatime drama. In Elinor Dashwood, thanks to Irene Richard's subtle performance, it has one of Jane Austen's most appealing heroines: a troubled young woman who outwardly "manages" her thoughts but must come to terms with a world that is not as black and white as she would have it. There are fine costumes, plenty of romance and some splendid locations. This Sense and Sensibility does have heaving bosoms and manly breeches, (on a modest level), but it was made before Hollywood discovered Jane Austen and turned her novel of manners into a multi-Oscar winning film, and long before the BBC's watershed 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice unleashed a new, sexed-up interpretation of Austen's work on a hungry audience. Its real charm lies in the dialogue, and the delicacy of the understated performances that suggest real turmoil beneath the surface of gentility. The exchanges are witty and sharp. The reciprocal misery of the Dashwood sisters as their romantic aspirations appear to crumble is touching and credible. And there is, of course, a happy ending. Vintage stuff. --Piers Ford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
There's no denying it that compared to the outstanding Emma Thompson movie the miniseries seems much more sedate and restrained -with less passion grande and display of tormented feelings-, it's like a theatre play really, but somehow it did not diminish it in my eyes. Given the length it was more leisurely, more faithful to the plot of the book.
I found the cast excellent: Irene Richard as Elinor and Tracey Childs as Marianne played their parts excellently. Diana Fairfax was a warm-hearted and ladylike Mrs Dashwood, Amanda Boxer was an excellent Fanny Dashwood: so cold-hearted, sneering and mean-spirited that you just wanted to slap her in the face really hard whenever she appeared on scene. Peter Gayle as John Dashwood also acted his part as the mean but jovial husband totally under his wife's influence. Peter Woodward (Willoughby) was dashing, Bosco Hogan (Edward) and Robert Swann (colonel Brandon) as the sisters suitors I found endearing. The Steele sisters were vulgar and shrewd, Mrs Jennings was vulgar, but kind-hearted. Characterization was superb through and through.
There were reviewers who found Irene R's Elinor too cold, but I did not have that feeling - it was rather that the scenes focusing on her feelings were just too short, we were not given the chance to see her suffer.
There is one thing however that disturbed me very much - the very sudden and abrupt ending. I couldn't help feeling cheated of the happy ending. Before I could start to enjoy the fact that all will turn out well, cut ... and over. This is why I don't give it 5 stars.
If you take my advice, try and enjoy this production for its own merits without comparing it to the movie - because they are two different worlds.
I read the novel again and realized that film was the American way of showing Jane Austen and her time: the men always riding (like cowboys), an education full of freedom even for girls ( Margret and her hut in the tree ...), rain in every turning point or dramatic situation ....
The BBC adaption of this novel tells the story in a more careful, smooth way, true to the novel, few thrilling scenes, but more charming ones. There is time to look at the characters, to feel with them, to see Jane Austen's English humour in some scenes and her feeling for romance. Sometimes I think there are real people on the screen, not heroes. That is one more reason for liking this film as much as the big American movie, or even better. Jane Austen gave her readers time to get into the story, she did not rush her readers, nevertheless there had always been something unexpected or surprizing in the story. Sense & Sensibility 1995 is great if you want to bring the story into life for young people of nowadays who need exaggerated feelings to feel and some action to think the movie is worth watching. But if you want to feel back into history, watch Sense & Sensibility 1985 by BBC. You will be led into a world totally different from ours, enjoy it as often as you need to be entertained in a smooth way.
There is one thing in common with all older BBC adaptations and that is the actors playing the characters are not very good-looking. Here Elinor and Edward do not look like what you would call "stars" like Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant but I think it is ok, people don't have to be very beautiful to love and be loved. Marianne is quite beautiful and Willoughby is dashing.
It's been a while since I have read the novel so I don't exactly know it this is a "faithful" adaptation but it gave me that feeling. This one does not so much look like a play although it is not like a film either. But you get the feeling that it wasn't shot directly on sets.
The actors are good but I am not sure Jane Austen intended Elinor so calm and contained. She looked emotionless for most of the film but she wasnt't that bad. Marianne is very romantic and I must say she sounds like Helga from "Hey Arnold" when she gushes about love but she is a likable character. Sir John, Mrs. Jennings and Lucy Steele are very good but I found Fanny Dashwoods performance a bit over the top, especially in the scene she learns about her brother's engagement.
The costumes and places are good enough for a lower budget production and all in all this is quite a good production but it may not be for people who expect glossier productions like the big screen adaptations and the 1995 P&P miniseries.
The acting in this version is fine, given how classics were "done" at the time. Looking at it over 30 years later, the interplay of the characters seems jarringly stilted and prim, with actors making their speeches as if it were Macbeth. It is a thing of its time, not wrong for its time, but its treatment of the subject has long since been abandoned. The central figures - the Dashwood sisters - are so frosty and cheerless, you wonder if the script writers actually read the novel. Where is the sisterly warmth, and the humour? Indeed, where is the "comedy of manners" that is synonymous with Austen? You get none of it here. What you do get is serious moody, with hardly a grin anywhere. Even the romantic scenes are played with tense and desperate angst that seems to come from nowhere.
Tracey Childs, who was a mere 18 at the time, saved the whole thing. She played Marianne with the same simpering moodiness that depresses the whole series, but she was very attractive in 1981. It was what struck me most when I watched it back then as a teenager myself. Her constant gasping earnestness and quivering lip were certainly not in the novel, but thank goodness she did it, because she carried the series along from start to end.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have three DVD versions of Sense & Sensibility which I am currently re-watching. I chose this one first and found it unremittingly dull. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Stephen Morse
Very good costumes and scenery make this a good version of the bookPublished 9 months ago by Margaret Anne Major
i am getting all of these d v d from the b b c as they are the best at them thank you. samPublished 12 months ago by sam
purchased for studying comparing production/direction comparison with those of today , & the use of todays Technology to enhance presentationPublished 19 months ago by William Higgins