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on 16 February 2005
Some people have comfort food to help them through dull, drizzly evenings. I have comfort films, and Ang Lee's, (and Emma Thompson's), "Sense And Sensibility" is one of my favorites. I have watched this movie several times since I first saw it, and it never fails to lift my spirits.
This glorious romance of mores and manners, set during England's Regency Period, is very faithful to Jane Austen's brilliant novel. The film vividly brings the novel, with all its characters, to life. The plot focuses on two of the three Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, and their extremely different temperaments. Emma Thompson wrote this wonderful screenplay and earned an Academy Award for her efforts. She added pizzazz to the film, with an extra dash of drama, some humor, splendid panoramic views and a fabulous ball scene.
A lovely, young Kate Winslet plays Marianne Dashwood to perfection. Marianne is a passionate young woman, with a definite inclination toward the humanities: art, music and literature. Her heart rules her head, more often than not, and she has a very spontaneous nature. Emma Thompson gives a strong performance as Elinor Dashwood, the older of the two sisters. She has a more practical, sensible temperament. While Elinor appreciates the music and literature that her sibling so passionately loves, she definitely thinks things through before making decisions, or taking action, and keeps her personal feelings to herself. She feels tremendous responsibility for her family's well-being. Ms. Thompson gives Elinor a wicked, dry sense of humor, and her character adds much wit to the dialogue. Marianne believes that Elinor, whom she dearly loves, is too cold, and restrained - more concerned with propriety than with feelings. Elinor, on the other hand, is concerned about Marianne's open and guileless behavior. She fears her sister will be hurt by indulging in her strong emotions, and that conventional society will condemn her for this attribute.
The movie opens dramatically, with Mr. Dashwood, the girls' father, on his deathbed, begging his son and heir, (by his first marriage), to please take care of his wife and three daughters after he dies. The spineless John Dashwood sincerely promises his father to do so, and then is persuaded not to by his greedy wife, Fanny, in a wonderful satire-filled scene. Before Elinor, Marianne, their adorable younger sister Margaret, and their mother are forced to leave their home, the Norwood estate, they meet Fanny's brother, the shy and kind Edward Ferrars, (Hugh Grant). Over a period of a few weeks, while the women are packing their belongings, Elinor and Edward grow obviously fond of each other. Their attachment is interrupted by Fanny, who senses the bond forming between her sister-in-law and her brother, and urges the four Dashwood women to leave immediately for their new home.
Upon arriving at their new residence, Barton Cottage, near the estate of Mrs. Dashwood's cousin John, the women meet their relatives and some new neighbors. Colonel Brandon, played by the charismatic Alan Rickman, is included in the welcome party. Brandon is drawn at once to the beautiful, musical Marianne, who does not reciprocate his affection. Instead she falls madly in love with the dashing Willoughby, and Greg Wise is extremely charismatic with his persuasive performance as the reckless, feckless young suitor.
The family settles in and explores their surroundings. Elinor waits in vain for Edward to visit her at Barton Cottage. Willoughby's expected marriage proposal to Marianne is unexpectedly interrupted. Two unhappy sisters travel to London for the season, hoping to settle their romantic affairs, and instead, find their dreams thwarted.
I won't give the story away, but it is a tale told wonderfully well, dramatized to perfection by extraordinary actors, and directed by the incomparable Ang Lee. Too many superlatives? You won't think so after you have seen "Sense And Sensibility."
JANA
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on 10 February 2003
When Emma Thompson was approached with the suggestion to write a screenplay based on Jane Austen's first novel "Sense and Sensibility" (1811), she was somewhat doubtful because, as she explains on the DVD's commentary track, she felt that other Austen works, like the more expressive "Emma" and "Persuasion" or the sardonic "Pride and Prejudice" (already the subject of several adaptations) would have been more suitable. Four years and 14 screenplay drafts later (the first, a 300-page handwritten dramatization of the novel's every scene), "Sense and Sensibility" made its grand entrance into theaters worldwide and mesmerized audiences and critics alike, resulting in an Oscar for Thompson's screenplay and six further nominations (Best Picture, Leading Actress - Thompson -, Supporting Actress - Kate Winslet -, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Score - for 20 minutes' worth of composition - and Costume Design); and double honors as Best Picture and for Thompson's screenplay at the Golden Globes.
More than simple romances, Jane Austen's novels are delicately constructed pieces of social commentary, written from her rural Hampshire's perspective. Mostly confined to life in her father's parish, she was nevertheless well aware of early 19th century England's society at large, and fiercely critical of the loss of morals and decorum she saw in its pre-industrial emergent city life. Moreover, experience and observation had made her acutely aware of the corsets forced onto women in fashion terms as much as by social norms, confining them to inactivity and complete dependency on their families' and their (future) husbands' money. And among this movie's greatest strengths is the manner in which it maintains that underlying theme of Austen's writing and brings it to a contemporary audience's attention. "You talk about feeling idle and useless: imagine how that is compounded when one has no hope and no choice of any occupation whatsoever," Elinor Dashwood (Thompson) tells her almost-suitor Edward Ferrars, and when he replies that "our circumstances are therefore precisely the same," she corrects him: "Except that you will inherit your fortune - we cannot even earn ours."
Rescuing much from the first draft dramatization of Austen's novel and amplifying where necessary, Emma Thompson and director Ang Lee ("who most unexplainably seems to understand me better than I understand myself," Thompson said in her mock-Austen Golden Globe speech) produced a movie scrupulously faithful to what is known about Austen's world and at the same time incredibly modern, thus emphasizing the novel's timeless quality. Paintings were consulted for the movie's production design, and indeed, almost every camera frame - both landscapes and interiors - has the feeling of a picture by a period painter. Thompson cleverly uses poetry where the novel does not contain dialogue; and again, she does so in a manner entirely faithful to Austen's subtleties - most prominently in the joint recital of Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 by Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet) and John Willoughby (Greg Wise), where an ever so slight inaccuracy in his rendition of a sonnet he claims to love foreshadows his lacking sincerity.
"Sense and Sensibility" revolves around Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, their quest for a suitable husband, and the sisters' relationship with each other. Emma Thompson maintains that she did not write the screenplay with herself as Elinor in mind and would not have been accepted for that role but for the success of her previous films ("Howards End," "The Remains of the Day"); yet, it is hard to imagine who could have better played sensible Elinor: "effectual, ... [possessing] a coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen [and thus considerably younger than Thompson], to be the counselor of her mother." And real-life 19-year-old Kate Winslet embodies sensitive, artistic Marianne: "eager in everything; [without] moderation ... generous, amiable, interesting: ... everything but prudent." (As an older actress was sought for that part, her agent presented her as 25.) An early scene in which Marianne recites Hartley Coleridge's Sonnet VII ("Is love a fancy or a feeling? No. It is immortal as immaculate truth") symbolizes the sisters' relationship and their personalities, as Marianne mocks Elinor's seemingly cool response to Edward's budding affection. (Mostly taken from the novel, the scene is embellished by the screenplay's sole inexactitude: Coleridge's sonnets were only published 22 years later). Yet, when all her hope seems shattered, Elinor, in a rare outburst of emotion, rebukes her sister: "What do you know of my heart?" - only to comfort her again when she sees that Marianne is equally distraught.
Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman similarly perfectly portray the sisters' suitors Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon, both embodying the qualities Austen considered essential: simplicity, sincerity and a firm sense of morality. Willoughby, on the other hand, while entering the story like the proverbial knight on a white horse who rescues the injured Marianne, does not live up to the high expectations he evokes; he causes Marianne to unacceptably abandon decorum and, just as he misspoke in that line from Shakespeare's sonnet, his love eventually "bends with the remover to remove." Similarly, Lucy Steele (Imogen Stubbs), the near-stumbling block to Elinor's happiness, ultimately proves driven by nothing but an "unceasing attention to self-interest ... with no other sacrifice than that of time and conscience" (Austen) and is, despite a fortuitous marriage, as marginalized as the Dashwoods' greedy sister-in-law Fanny (Harriet Walter). Conversely, the boisterous Sir John Middleton and his garrulous mother-in-law, while annoying in their insensitivity, are essentially goodnatured; and marvelously portrayed in their flawed but warmhearted ways by Robert Hardy and Elizabeth Spriggs.
"Sense and Sensibility" came out at the height of the mid-1990s' Jane Austen revival. Of all movies released then, and alongside 1996's "Emma" (which has "Hollywood" written all over it) and the BBC's "Pride and Prejudice" (which finally established Colin Firth as the leading man in the U.S. that he had long been in Britain), Emma Thompson's "Sense and Sensibility" is one of those adaptations that future generations of moviegoers will likely turn to in years to come. And it is truly an experience not to be missed.
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This is a very pleasant, rather gentle film which is generally faithful to the Jane Austen novel on which it is based. It benefits from very good performances from most of the principal actors, beautiful photography and lighting and an excellent screenplay, for which Emma Thompson deservedly won an Oscar. Ang Lee's direction is first-rate, even if the view of 18th. century England which we get is, as nearly always in period drama, rather over-pretty and sanitised ; but it looks lovely. Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet as the two elder Dashwood sisters, reliable, sensitive Eleanor and impulsive, generous-natured Marianne, are excellent. Alan Rickman does his usual thick-voiced uneasy portrayal (but without the menace) as Colonel Brandon. I have reservations about Hugh Grant who, as Edward Ferrars, seems to me over-the-top in his wimpish inarticulacy, always wearing clothes that don't really fit to underline this, but he is good at key moments, for example his final declaration of love for Eleanor. The gentle, wistful, tactfully understated music adds atmosphere to the film and is a plus, and there are some very nice woolly sheep which appear from time to time, much riding about on splendid horses (and in carriages drawn by splendid horses), marvellous views over rolling countryside, magnificent fine houses and so on. It is all lovely to watch and very well done, and with such a good screenplay, it works very well.
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I suppose it makes perfect sense that if you want to make a 19th-century English romance novel into a superb film you hire an actress almost twice the age of the main character to not only play the role but also adapt the screenplay into a book and then hire a Taiwanese director to direct the film. You might say, yes, such things happen in Hollywood, but the success of "Sense and Sensibility" is due to what transpired in England, not Southern California. Having read the novel and the original screenplay, the largest share of credit goes to Emma Thompson, who deservedly received the Oscar for Best Screenplay Adaptation. Thompson began by dramatizing every scene in the novel, which resulted in 300 hand written pages to be followed by 14 drafts as the 1811 novel was crafted into the final script. The result was a script that manages to be not only romantic and funny, but also romantic and funny in the best Austen sense of both.
After watching the film again and again I focus on three particular points, which I think best reveal the strength of Thompson's script. First, the entire introductory sequence, which induces us to like the Dashwood sisters because we are introduced first to their step-brother and his shrewish wife (credit for this particular sequence also goes to Film Editor Tim Squyres, who recut the scene so that we get all of one side and then the other instead of alternating back and forth as in the original script). Our sympathies cannot help but be with the plight of Elinor and Marianne. Second, the use of Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 ("Let me not the marriage of true minds"), which Marianne and Willoughby share to their great mutual delight (except he gets a word wrong, in an elegant little bit of foreshadowing) and which Marianne repeats standing in the rain looking at Willoughby's new estate. Third, Austen has Elinor bolt from the room to cry outside during the happy ending but Thompson creates a wonderful moment by having her stay in the room and having the rest of her family flee. There are not too many scenes where you are crying and laughing at the same time, but Thompson certainly created one (and has the added virtue of relying on herself as an actress to nail the performance as well). All of these are marvelous examples of playing to the strength of the cinema to bring Austen's novel to the screen.
The performances are first-rate, especially Kate Winslet as the passionate Marianne, Gemma Jones as Mrs. Dashwood and Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon (the look on his face when Marianne thanks him for rescuing her is so wondrously touching). Hugh Grant does find a way of slowing the delivery of his dialogue more than usual, but it does fit the overall pace of the film. The supporting cast is exactly what you come to expect from a British production with Elizabeth Spriggs stealing every scene she is in as Mrs. Jennings, Robert Hardy as Sir John Middleton, Hugh Laurie as Mr. Palmer, Oliver Ford Davies as Doctor Harris, and the enchanting young Emilie Francois as Margaret Dashwood ("They always kneel down"). On the darker side of the ledger we have Greg Wise as the less than honorable John Willoughby, and Imogene Stubbs as Lucy Steele and Harriet Walter as Fanny Dashwood vying for the main villainess role in the proceedings. No wonder Emma Thompson's performance as Elinor is almost lost in the proceedings, but she is the center around which everything resolves who has to keep it together when everybody around her is losing it (even when she first confesses her broken heart, she ends up consoling Marianne instead of the other way around).
Ang Lee had already proven he could handle a tale of sisters in love when he directed "Eat Drink Man Woman." In "Sense and Sensibility" he has the script, the actors and the set design all working in his favor to create a sense of 19th century England. But there are a few moments when he uses the camera to great advantage; in particular the overhead shot of Marianne on her sick bed achieves a painting like quality and the tracking shot of Mrs. Jennings running down the street bearing the latest gossip.
I first say this film when visiting England and I was so caught up in the story that I had no idea who was going to end up with who. Actually, I was sort of rooting for Elinor to end up with Colonel Brandon since they were obviously the two finest members of their respective sexes in the proceedings. So the ending was as much of a surprise to me as it was to the Dashwoods, which is certainly something to be cherished. Obviously if you love this film it will lead you to other Austen adaptations (the film versions of "Emma" and "Persuasion" along with the BBC mini-series "Pride & Prejudice" immediately leap to mind), but hopefully it will also lead you to the original novels as well. Finally, Thompson published "The Sense and Sensibility: Screenplay & Diaries," which I would highly recommend after you have done both the film and the novel.
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on 25 August 2005
I remember first seeing the film in the cinema and also very well remember the total enchantment I felt. The production has captivated me right from the start and still does whenever I watch it over and over again.
The chemistry between the Dashwood sisters played by Emma Thompson (sensible, rational and seemingly restraint Elinor) and Kate Winslet (passionate, oversensitive and open Marianne)works wonderfully. The family picture completed with Gemma Jones as Mrs Dashwood and Emily F. as Margaret is lovely and lively. There are some fresh family scenes where Margaret gets more attention (she is not wholly portraited in the book as a rather insignificant character)giving light touches to the film preventing it to become too gloomy at certain points.
Emma Thompson created an absolutely wonderful screenplay. Sad and funny events alternate each other increasing and relaxing tension making the film intriguing and exciting from first minute to the last.
A pity that two scenes were deleted where Elinor's character - a dialogue between her and her mother - gets highlighted even further and a pity for the deleted kiss with Hugh Grant. Fortunately they can be enjoyed as extras on the DVD.
As to male performance, I found Alan Rickman's colonel Brandon - the character is actually a bit flat in the book, not too much excitement there - totally stunning. He gave dimension to the character: he was humane, gentle and good, but very manly without a trace of boredom in him. You could feel his passion for Marianne and the past sadness still lingering over him. The scene where he gets introduced to the film (his intently watching Marianne as if spellbound) is one of the most amazing peaks of the film.
Hugh Grant was a shy, but likeable Edward Ferrars, his caring, brotherly relationship with Margaret made him more endearing. Greg Wise played a truly dashing Willoughby.
The Devon scenery - wonderful, wonderful Britain! - was photgraphed at it most advantageous, the costumes were brilliant and the sonnets gave true dramatization to plot and characters.
Do not hesitate, buy it now!!
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on 8 December 2006
Having watched this film immediately after reading the novel, my expectations were high, and thankfully, I was not let down. This is a delicate and touching handling of a highly subtle novel which helps bring to life the characters, fashions and scenery of Romantic England. There is a wonderful blending of feeling, wit and humour. Lee's direction is clearly affectionate and determined to remain faithful to the original.

Thompson's screenplay adaptation and the direction are largely faithful to the main themes and plots of the novel. Where original material has been interpolated, it is seamlessly and tastefully done, never for the sake of it, and always adding to the overall atmopsphere of the story. The soundtrack is simply enchanting, and appropriate for the themes, moods and tones of the action; Marianne's recitals are especially poingant.

Austen's characters are interpreted by an all-star cast, who are all on top form. Kate Winslet as Marianne and Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon are particularly moving and affecting in their parts. Marianne's gradually softening sensibility and the inner passions emerging from beneath Colonel Brandon's manly reserve are skillfully portrayed. Thompson is mature and sensible and Grant is suitably foppish.

Living abroad, I found this film highly evocative of traditional English people and places. After a bottle of wine I became extremely homesick and emotional during the exit music. This film brings to the screen things we should be proud of: our literature, our countryside and the refined manners, culture and that peculiar mix of sense and sensibility of our people.
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on 1 February 2004
This is a perfectly made movie from beginning to end, I have never seen anything so flawless! Emma Thompson's screenplay is already fantastic in itself (as there are about 4 or 5 lines from Austen in it, yet it feels as if all the words were her own!), and the acting can only positively contribute to this.
The greatest strength of the film is its ability to preserve and communicate the subtleties of women's life two centuries ago, of human feelings, of passion and reserve, and of wit and irony which are so essential in Austen's books. The movie - in spite of the happy ending - is, therefore, a rather profound piece of work, which shows a great deal of devotion to it on the part of those involved in its making. Every detail (scenery, costumes, period "accessories", etc.) is carefully considered and is an integral part of the whole, so one watching it really has the feeling of being carried back to the turn of the 18/19th centuries.
And there is an ultimate dreamcast - with everybody seeming to live up to all expectations: Emma Thompson playing Elinor is superb as ever, wonderful at hiding but also at communicating her feelings through mimic and gestures. I think the contrast between her character and Marianne's (Kate Winslet) is really successfully presented on the screen, just like that between Edward (Hugh Grant) and Willoughby (Greg Wise), or Col Brandon (Alan Rickman) and Willoughby. (Only that Alan Rickman, let's admit it, is quite a desirable alternative even to Willoughby, right from the beginning...:)) And Elizabeth Spriggs as Mrs. Jennings! Exactly I imagined while reading the book!
Above all this, the DVD has nice extras, Emma Thompson's Golden Globe speech is just as a "must-see" as the movie itself (further proof she CAN write), the audio commentaries are both funny and revealing at the same time, while the trailers (Little Women, Remains of the Day) present some other films quite worthy to see.
In one word, Sense and Sensibility is "beautiful", and it will for sure enchant even teenagers who might not care much for classics otherwise. Actually, I think it will enchant anybody regardless of age - just another merit of the many.
Buy and see it several times! :)
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on 4 March 2004
When Emma Thompson was approached with the suggestion to write a screenplay based on Jane Austen's first novel "Sense and Sensibility" (1811), she was somewhat doubtful because, as she explains on the DVD's commentary track, she felt that other Austen works, like the more expressive "Emma" and "Persuasion" or the sardonic "Pride and Prejudice" (already the subject of several adaptations) would have been more suitable. Four years and 14 screenplay drafts later (the first, a 300-page handwritten dramatization of the novel's every scene), "Sense and Sensibility" made its grand entrance into theaters worldwide and mesmerized audiences and critics alike, resulting in an Oscar for Thompson's screenplay and six further nominations (Best Picture, Leading Actress - Thompson -, Supporting Actress - Kate Winslet -, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Score - for 20 minutes' worth of composition - and Costume Design); and double honors as Best Picture and for Thompson's screenplay at the Golden Globes.
More than simple romances, Jane Austen's novels are delicately constructed pieces of social commentary, written from her rural Hampshire's perspective. Mostly confined to life in her father's parish, she was nevertheless well aware of early 19th century England's society at large, and fiercely critical of the loss of morals and decorum she saw in its pre-industrial emergent city life. Moreover, experience and observation had made her acutely aware of the corsets forced onto women in fashion terms as much as by social norms, confining them to inactivity and complete dependency on their families' and their (future) husbands' money. And among this movie's greatest strengths is the manner in which it maintains that underlying theme of Austen's writing and brings it to a contemporary audience's attention. "You talk about feeling idle and useless: imagine how that is compounded when one has no hope and no choice of any occupation whatsoever," Elinor Dashwood (Thompson) tells her almost-suitor Edward Ferrars, and when he replies that "our circumstances are therefore precisely the same," she corrects him: "Except that you will inherit your fortune - we cannot even earn ours."
Rescuing much from the first draft dramatization of Austen's novel and amplifying where necessary, Emma Thompson and director Ang Lee ("who most unexplainably seems to understand me better than I understand myself," Thompson said in her mock-Austen Golden Globe speech) produced a movie scrupulously faithful to what is known about Austen's world and at the same time incredibly modern, thus emphasizing the novel's timeless quality. Paintings were consulted for the movie's production design, and indeed, almost every camera frame - both landscapes and interiors - has the feeling of a picture by a period painter. Thompson cleverly uses poetry where the novel does not contain dialogue; and again, she does so in a manner entirely faithful to Austen's subtleties - most prominently in the joint recital of Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 by Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet) and John Willoughby (Greg Wise), where an ever so slight inaccuracy in his rendition of a sonnet he claims to love foreshadows his lacking sincerity.
"Sense and Sensibility" revolves around Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, their quest for a suitable husband, and the sisters' relationship with each other. Emma Thompson maintains that she did not write the screenplay with herself as Elinor in mind and would not have been accepted for that role but for the success of her previous films ("Howards End," "The Remains of the Day"); yet, it is hard to imagine who could have better played sensible Elinor: "effectual, ... [possessing] a coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen [and thus considerably younger than Thompson], to be the counselor of her mother." And real-life 19-year-old Kate Winslet embodies sensitive, artistic Marianne: "eager in everything; [without] moderation ... generous, amiable, interesting: ... everything but prudent." (As an older actress was sought for that part, her agent presented her as 25.) An early scene in which Marianne recites Hartley Coleridge's Sonnet VII ("Is love a fancy or a feeling? No. It is immortal as immaculate truth") symbolizes the sisters' relationship and their personalities, as Marianne mocks Elinor's seemingly cool response to Edward's budding affection. (Mostly taken from the novel, the scene is embellished by the screenplay's sole inexactitude: Coleridge's sonnets were only published 22 years later). Yet, when all her hope seems shattered, Elinor, in a rare outburst of emotion, rebukes her sister: "What do you know of my heart?" - only to comfort her again when she sees that Marianne is equally distraught.
Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman similarly perfectly portray the sisters' suitors Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon, both embodying the qualities Austen considered essential: simplicity, sincerity and a firm sense of morality. Willoughby, on the other hand, while entering the story like the proverbial knight on a white horse who rescues the injured Marianne, does not live up to the high expectations he evokes; he causes Marianne to unacceptably abandon decorum and, just as he misspoke in that line from Shakespeare's sonnet, his love eventually "bends with the remover to remove." Similarly, Lucy Steele (Imogen Stubbs), the near-stumbling block to Elinor's happiness, ultimately proves driven by nothing but an "unceasing attention to self-interest ... with no other sacrifice than that of time and conscience" (Austen) and is, despite a fortuitous marriage, as marginalized as the Dashwoods' greedy sister-in-law Fanny (Harriet Walter). Conversely, the boisterous Sir John Middleton and his garrulous mother-in-law, while annoying in their insensitivity, are essentially goodnatured; and marvelously portrayed in their flawed but warmhearted ways by Robert Hardy and Elizabeth Spriggs.
"Sense and Sensibility" came out at the height of the mid-1990s' Jane Austen revival. Of all movies released then, and alongside 1996's "Emma" (which has "Hollywood" written all over it) and the BBC's "Pride and Prejudice" (which finally established Colin Firth as the leading man in the U.S. that he had long been in Britain), Emma Thompson's "Sense and Sensibility" is one of those adaptations that future generations of moviegoers will likely turn to in years to come. And it is truly an experience not to be missed.
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VINE VOICEon 6 May 2007
This film serves as a really good example of how a lengthy (well, about 260 close typed pages in the edition we have) classic novel can be condensed into feature film length without losing the essence and spirit of the original. Emma Thompson's screenplay should serve as a model for anyone attempting a similar project.

The story is of the path to marriage of the Dashwood sisters (Elinor & Marianne), a somewhat rocky road that ultimately shows that the ostensibly very different characters of the girls (one passionate, the other level-headed and practical) are remarkably similar. The tale explores the world of upper class manners and the overriding importance of money and status in the early 19th century with considerable wit and insight.

Purists might point out many deviations from the original text. For example, the role of Margaret Dashwood is much amplified in the film and Sir John Middleton (presumably unhappily for him) becomes a widower, but these changes serve very well to assist to narration of the story. Equally, the final proposal scene (which Austin herself glosses over) is considerably played up - possibly to the extent of being the only corny moment in the film. But these, I think, would be minor criticisms.

Thompson succeeds in keeping closely to the spirit of the book by ensuring that other important themes are preserved. For example, the socially rigid, penny-pinching, selfish behaviour of John & Fanny Dashwood is contrasted beautifully with the generosity of spirit of Mrs Jennings, easily their equal in terms of wealth and consequence, albeit from a far humbler origin. The difference in character between the two Ferrars brothers is well portrayed and the capricious, scheming nature of Lucy Steele comes across nicely.

Those seeking an adaptation even closer to the book might look at the longer 1981 BBC version, though I would say that the Thompson version benefits considerably from improved production techniques, particularly good casting (though, I hasten add, the 1981 version is in no way poorly cast) and a much bigger budget.

Excellent and definitely worth five stars.
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on 30 October 2003
Firstly, for anyone getting the DVD - it's worth it for the extras, particularly if you like the feature commentaries as I do. There are 2 - one with Ang Lee the other with Emma Thompson and another woman which I like the best (gives you all the trivia and inside story).
In terms of the film itself, it's a brilliant adaptation. I would recommend this to anyone unfamiliar with Austen's work as an introduction. It also made me want to read the book again, which I did with different eyes, so's to speak. The characters are magnificently portrayed - well done to whoever cast them. The Dashwood sisters Emma Thompson & Kate Winslet along with the young girl who played Margaret have a great on screen chemistry. Greg Wise is a very dashing Willoughby; Hugh Grant is more inarticulate but endearing as Edward Ferrers than he was in 4Weddings!! Alan Rickman demonstrates that he can still play a romantic, soft hearted man of integrity as Col Brandon. Add to this the comedy aspect of Robert Harris and the "other Mrs Dashwood" and bring in another talented actress - Gemma Jones - as the senior Mrs Dashwood and you've pretty much got an all star cast who compliment one another superbly.
A must have for any DVD collector
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