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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 30 October 2011
I originally watched this series on TV and had forgotten just how much I enjoyed it. I indulged myself by watching every episode in one evening and have since dipped into my favourite bits again. One huge advantage of buying DVDs through Amazon is that they invariably arrive quickly and are usually much cheaper than elsewhere - especially if it is a while since the DVD release date. The quality is fine. Well worth the price. If you haven't seen this series, treat yourself.
on 27 February 2008
entertainment. While not faithful to the book this adaptation does have some very good plus points to recommend it.
Firstly like another reviewer has pointed out Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield are the right age to play Elinor and Marianne. While I love the Ang Lee film - and the actors in it - I always felt awkward with the casting of Emma Thompson et al ( I am not criticising them as actors they are brilliant generally and in particular this film but too old for the characters). I was able to enjoy this adaptation more because it they were the right age and therefore the emotions they had to portray seemed more realistic.
Likewise David Morrissey as Brandon was very good, slightly reserved, a bit haughty but ultimately much more faithful to Austens original (in my opinion, again I love Alan Rickman but lets face it he is very dry and sarcastic and I stuggled to warm to him in the film). Mr Morrissey had me cheering for him from his first appearance.
The Devonshire countryside was stunning as were most of the locations.
In fact the one thing I particularly missed from the film was Hugh Laurie. I did think that the actors playing Willoughby and Edward did not stand out as much as they should have done and were overshadowed by lesser characters.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and while not faithful (what is these days)I feel it well worth a viewing and I for one will be adding to my collection as soon as possible.
on 11 August 2015
I can't believe I hadn't even known about this version until recently when I spotted it on the TV. I caught it part way through, and I was enjoying it so much I went straight online to purchase a copy.
As much as I adore the Emma Thompson film, this BBC mini series is in many ways a more authentic version of the story. The cast are truly exceptional and beautifully matched to their roles, the settings are a lot more grounded and give a far more accurate insight into the degree of change in the lives of the family, and it has a wonderful energy to it.
If you love Jane Austen, this is definitely an interpretation worth adding to your library.
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