Sense and Sensibility 1995 – Revisited

Sense and Sensibility (1995) DVDNominated for seven Academy Awards®, the 1995 movie Sense and Sensibility remains one of my most cherished interpretations of a Jane Austen novel. Everything about this film project seems to be touched with gold; from the award winning screenplay by actress Emma Thompson; to the incredible depth of British acting talent: Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Gemma Jones, Harriet Walter, Greg Wise, Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson; stunning film locations in Devonshire; and the fine brush-work of the Taiwanese director Any Lee. The movie touched many and introduced Jane Austen’s classic story of two divergent sisters searching for happiness and love to millions. I never tire of viewing it, basking in its beautiful cinematography, enjoying its thoughtful performances and marveling at its exquisitely crafted screenplay – both reverent to Austen’s intentions and engaging to modern audiences.

There has been so much discussed online already about this movie that I doubt I can add any new insights. I can however share with you what I find so moving about it: the performances, the music, the language and the filming locations. I feel that the movie can say it so much more than I, so here are a few video excerpts for your enjoyment.

The trailer

Edward Ferrars and Elinor listen to Marianne play the pianoforte

Mrs. Jennings tries to winkle information out of the young Miss Dashwood’s and Col. Brandon meets Marianne.

Mr. Palmer is quite rude today!

Good God Willoughby!

Elinor, where is your heart?

Miss Lucy Steele calls on Elinor – and so does Edward Ferrars!

Marianne goes in search of Combe Magna in the rain

All’s well that ends with a wedding!

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

This is my sixth selection in the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011, my year-long homage to Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility. You can follow the event as I post reviews on the fourth Wednesday of every month and read all of the other participants contributions posted in the challenge review pages here.

A Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one DVD copy of Sense and Sensibility 1995 by leaving a comment by midnight PT Wednesday, July 6, 2011 stating who your favorite character is in the 1995 movie or what intrigues you about a movie adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. Winners will be announced on Thursday, July 7, 2011. Shipment to US or Canadian addresses only.

Sense and Sensibility 1995
Sony Pictures (1995)
DVD Region 1 (2h 16m)
UPC: 043396115996

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Giveaway Winner Announced for The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries

The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries, by Emma Thompson & Lindsay Doran (2007)45 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a paperback copy of The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries, by Emma Thompson. The winner drawn at random is CJ who left a comment on May 2nd.

Congratulations CJ! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by May 18th, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments, and for all those participating in The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011. We are reading many Sense and Sensibility inspired novels, watching movie adaptations and delving into Jane Austen’s classic novel this year in honor of the bicentenary of its publication in 1811.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries, by Emma Thompson – A Review

The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries, by Emma Thompson (1995)Nominated for seven Academy Awards®, the 1995 movie Sense and Sensibility remains one of my most cherished interpretations of a Jane Austen novel. Everything about this film project seems to be touched with gold; from the award winning screenplay by actress Emma Thompson; to the incredible depth of British acting talent: Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Gemma Jones, Harriet Walter, Greg Wise, Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson; stunning film locations in Devonshire; and the fine brush-work of the Taiwanese director Any Lee. The movie touched many and introduced Jane Austen’s classic story of two divergent sisters searching for happiness and love to millions. I never tire of viewing it, basking in its beautiful cinematography, enjoying its thoughtful performances and marveling at its exquisitely crafted screenplay – both reverent to Austen’s intensions and engaging to modern audiences.

Reading The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries written by Emma Thompson and introduced by the movie producer Lindsay Doran was such a pleasure. What a labor of love this movie was for both actress/writer Thompson and producer Doran who spent fifteen years to bring it to the screen. This highly acclaimed film won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar and Golden Globe in 1996 for Thompson and the praise of hundreds of film critics and fans. Her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes was so witty and Austen-like that the film clip is a perennial favorite on Youtube. This book contains the complete screenplay, over fifty photos of the actors and scenes from the film and Thompson’s candid and often hilarious daily entries of what it was like to be involved in this incredible project. Here is a great excerpt:

Tuesday 11 April: No one can sleep for excitement. Costume designers John Bright and Jenny Beavan wish they had three more weeks but have done truly great work. The shapes and colours and inimitable. Lindsay’s already in Plymouth frantically trying to cut the script. It’s still too long. The art department object to us bathing Margaret in the parlour. Apparently they always used a kitchen or bedroom in the nineteenth century. Perhaps the Dashwoods are different, I suggest, unhelpfully.

“Thompson’s rare and personal perspective makes The Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries an irresistible book for students of film and Austen devotees, as well as for everyone who loved this extraordinary movie.” This is a must read for Jane Austen and period movie fans, and I highly recommend it.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

This is my fourth selection in the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011, my year-long homage to Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility. You can follow the event as I post reviews on the fourth Wednesday of every month and read all of the other participants contributions posted in the challenge review pages here.

A Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries, by Emma Thompson by leaving a comment by midnight PT Wednesday, May 11, 2011 stating who your favorite character is in the 1995 movie or what intrigues you about a movie adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. Winners will be announced on Thursday, May 12, 2011. Shipment to US or Canadian addresses only.

The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries, by Emma Thompson
Newmarket Press (2007) reprint of 1995 edition
Trade paperback (288) pages
ISBN: 978-1557047823

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Sense and Sensibility 1981 – A Review

Sense and Sensibility (1981) DVD coverThis is my second review for the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011. *throws confetti* It is my year-long homage to Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility.

This 1981 BBC seven-part miniseries of Sense and Sensibility is a solid but flawed adaptation of Jane Austen’s masterpiece. In my mind, the character of Marianne Dashwood is always the benchmark for a superior adaptation. She is a complicated creature driven by emotion and racked with vulnerability, and if the actress portraying Jane Austen’s most melodramatic character can play her as intended, the whole production can rest on her shoulders. Tracey Childs as Marianne Dashwood exuded all the frantic emotion and romantic “sensibilities” that Marianne should at all the right moments, and Irene Richards as her sister Elinor was equally convincing, and at times touching, as her stoic, stable and guarded counterpart. However, my disappointment in the male characters: Edward Ferrars, John Willoughby and Colonel Brandon, pushed this production below my expectations. Part of this can be attributed to the loose adaptation of dialogue by screenwriter Alexander Baron and partly to Austen herself, who chose to craft male roles that are weaker than the two female ones. Yes. Not everything in Sense and Sensibility is balanced, and that was Austen’s point. Even though this imperfection is one of its charms, it can be unsatisfying. Here is the description of the production by the distributor.

Offering equal measures of humor and drama, this magnificent remastered  BBC production is an utterly charming version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

This delightful story tells of two sisters attempting to find happiness in the tightly structured society of 18th century England. Elinor, disciplined, restrained and very conscious of the manners of the day, represents sense. Outspoken, impetuous, emotional Marianne represents sensibility. Attracted to a man already promised to another, Elinor suffers silently to keep scandal away from her family. Marianne enjoys a flirtation with a handsome scoundrel that could lead to her downfall. Through their experiences with men and their relationship with each other, they learn that neither sense nor sensibility alone is enough, but that one must strive for a balance of the two.

The “magnificent remastered” boast makes one wonder what they had to start with? Considering that this was originally videotaped instead of today’s standard of digital film, we must allowances, but it is still blurry and faded in comparison. The film locations are mediocre too. I have been truly spoiled by the 1995 Ang Lee and the 2008 John Alexander productions magnificent locations. The costumes exhibited the oddest colors and most unflattering of Regency styles in *gasp* polyester fabrics, and the screenwriter Alexander Baron chose to eliminate little sister Margaret entirely! (For shame) What saves this 3 hour adaptation is the acting. Irene Richards, who you might recognize from her portrayal as Charlotte Lucas in the 1980 BBC Pride and Prejudice, is a solid oak who bends with the wind of change and shades her sister and mother from her own romantic pain. Her scene where Colonel Brandon asks her to inform Edward Ferrars of this offer of a church living was really moving. Tracey Child as Marianne happily did not play the melodrama over the top like Ciaran Madden did in the earlier 1971 production. I was amazed at the similarity of her interpretation to that of Kate Winslet’s 1995 version. Minor roles of note were Julia Chambers who plays cunning vixen Lucy Steele to a tea, and Amanda Boxer as stingy Fanny Dashwood. The scene where Fanny discovers that Lucy Steele and her brother Edward have been secretly engaged might be one of the best screaming scenes on film! Overall, an enjoyable but flawed production that could have benefited from more of Jane Austen’s beautiful language.

Elinor Dashwood – Irene Richards
Marianne Dashwood – Tracey Childs
Mrs. Dashwood – Diana Fairfax
Edward Ferrars – Bosco Hogan
Colonel Brandon – Robert Swann
John Willoughby – Peter Woodward
John Dashwood – Peter Gale
Fanny Dashwood – Amanda Boxer
Mrs. Jennings – Annie Leon
Sir John Middleton – Donald Douglas
Lady Middleton – Marjorie Bland
Lucy Steele – Julia Chambers
Ann Steele – Pippa Sparkes
Robert Ferrars – Philip Bowen
Charlotte Palmer – Hetty Baynes
Screenplay – Alexander Baron
Directed by – Rodney Bennet

Film locations:

Norland – Babington House, Babington, Somerset, England, UK
Barton Cottage – C ame Cottage, Dorchester, Dorset, England, UK
Barton Park – Came House, Dorchester, Dorset, England, UK
Mrs. Jennings House in London – Cowcombe Court, Crowcombe, Somerset, England, UK
Cleveland – Hatch Court, Taunton, Somerset, England, UK

A Grand Giveaway

Win one copy of the BBC Sense and Sensibility 1981 by leaving a comment by midnight PT March 2, 2011 stating what intrigues you about this adaptation of Sense and Sensibility or who your favorite character was. Winners will be announced on Thursday, March 3, 2011. Shipment to US addresses only.

Sense and Sensibility 1981
BBC Warner Video
DVD (174) minutes
UPC: 794051168320

DVD cover image courtesy © BBC Warner Video

Austen Film Locations: Barton Cottage – Sense and Sensibility 1995

Guest blog by Helen Wilkinson of P and P Tours

Actress Emma Thompson recalls her time filming Sense & Sensibility for the 1995 movie directed by Ang Lee,

The house representing Barton Cottage is one of the most beautiful spots we’ve ever seen. It took the curse off a six-day week.

The film location researchers knew they had found a world-beating location when they stumbled on the glorious eighteenth century stone cottage on the private Flete Estate in south Devon. It is not only near the Plymouth mentioned in Austen’s novel, but also close to the small town of Newton Ferrers which many believe was an inspiration to Jane for her hero’s surname of Edward Ferrars. Jane and her contemporaries would have passed signs to the small town on the old coaching route between London and the south-west.

Many key scenes in the movie were filmed at Barton; Willoughby carrying Marianne, driving the custom-built yellow curricle, Edward proposing to Elinor, and a piano being delivered to Marianne from Col. Brandon. Director Ang Lee raved about the location, although he found the estuary swans a little too ‘romantic’ and often asked for them to be excluded from shot.

The researchers had stuck closely to Jane Austen’s description of the cottage in chapter 6.

A view of Barton Valley, as they (Mrs Dashwood and the girls) entered it, gave them cheerfulness. It was a pleasant, fertile spot, well wooded, and rich in pasture.  A small green court was the whole of its demesne in front; and a neat wicket-gate admitted them into it.  As a house, Barton Cottage, though small, was comfortable and compact; but as a cottage it was defective, for the building was regular, the roof was tiled, the window shutters were not painted green, nor were the walls covered with honeysuckles. A narrow passage led directly through the house into the garden behind. On each side of the entrance was a sitting room, about sixteen feet square. Four bed-rooms and two garrets formed the rest of the house.

I am fascinated to see how closely the Flete Estate cottage matches Jane’s description. It too is a perfectly proportioned Georgian house, in a wooded valley exactly as the novel describes, with the wicket- gate and the small green patch in front, almost as if Jane was describing it from life.

In contrast, the later 2007 BBC/PBS Andrew Davies production of Sense & Sensibility used a shepherd’s cottage in wild Hartland, Devon – not the sort of place a genteel widow and her daughter would have settled. It is the kind of property the Georgians would have described as a ‘hovel’ and is only picturesque to a 21st-century audience. The 1995 Barton is well-proportioned, neat and – in comparison to the glories of Norland – a very modest property.

In 2010 we were thrilled to be able to include Barton in our S&S May tour. It was such an enormous hit with the clients – none of them could bear to leave – that we’ll be including it in several of our future trips. There are no cars, and no sounds except the estuary birds which beset the film crew until Ang Lee demanded could someone shut up the geese! The geese won of course!

Helen Wilkinson, P and P Tours

P and P Tours accommodate up to 10 clients at Barton Cottage in Devon as part of their tours. Visit the P and P Tours website for further information and booking details.

Sense and Sensibility (1971) – Movie Review

I was quite excited when the news hit the blogosphere that the elusive 1971 mini-series of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility was being resurrected from the vaults and reissued by the BBC. It originally aired in the UK, but had never jumped the pond until this re-issue. Now, I think I know why.

If you step back in time with me to the early days of the BBC and Masterpiece Theater television adaptations of literary classics and biographies you might recall such gems as The Six Wives of Henry VIII , Poldark or I Claudius. The scripts and actors were superior, but by today’s standards of movie making they appear a bit stage-playish and stilted. They are after all close to forty years old. If you can get past the slower pacing, video film recording quality and classically trained actors playing to the back row of a theater, they are well worth your entertainment time. This adaptation of Sense and Sensibility is from the same era, and suffers from some of the same stiffness and sluggish pacing. However, these faults could easily have been overlooked if the script had not been so severely altered from the original masterpiece. The plot line of Austen’s story remains, but unfortunately very, very little of her unique language is included. Newer adaptations by Emma Thompson in 1995 and Andrew Davies in 2008 do include Austen’s words, or a variation of them, and we have come to expect them.

Robin Ellis as Edward Ferrars and Joann David as Elinor Dashwood

Notwithstanding my frustrations with the dialogue, I did appreciate some of the performances, and laughed heartily over the costumes and hair styles. Here are some of the highlights:

The Yeas

Joanna David as Elinor Dashwood totally saved this production for me. Her solid and stoic Elinor is never overplayed, but totally understated and stealthily effective. Like Austen’s heroine she is a rock, an island of sanity in a social sphere populated with reprehensible characters used as a morality exercise to compare what should be proper behavior in the Georgian era and what is not. Besides being absolutely stunningly beautiful, her timing and delivery are spot on. It is easy for a reader or an audience to resent Elinor for pulling in the reigns of her family and her own heart, but I never once doubted Ms David’s characters choices. Bravo!

Patricia Routledge as Mrs. Jennings may be my favorite film interpretation of the character so far. In this instance playing to the back row really works as her character is way over-the-top and exaggerated just as Austen intended. Aptly, Routledge’s clothes are as outlandish as her personality; she waves her arms about like a conductor of a comic opera and spouts her errant romantic deductions and matchmaking schemes with her unmistakably unique sign-song voice with aplomb. Her performance alone is well worth the 3 hours of blunders.

The Nays

Robin Ellis as Edward Ferrars. This Edward has a bouffant hairdo and stutters through his lines. This character trait is not in Austen’s novel (that I can remember) and may have been added as an emphasis to show that he was truly not suited for making speaches in Parliment, the profession that his mother aspires for him. We also saw slight stuttering by Hugh Grant in the 1995 production. Is this a trend? Unfortunately, I never felt any chemistry between this Edward and Elinor which made their romance rather flat. This was a big disappointment, since the proposal scene in both the 1995 and 2008 adaptations actually were the highlight of the films for me and amazingly an improvement on the original novel. Honestly, I can’t think of anything positive to say about this Edward beyond the fact that he was an eligible bachelor and he married above himself.

Ciaran Madden as Marianne Dashwood. Oh my! This is a love hate reaction to this interpretation of Austen’s most dramatic of heroines. This Marianne was a frenzied mess, down right selfish and does not care one fig about her family. She whines a lot, throws away anyone else’s opinions like dead flowers and comes off like a spoiled brat. When she finds Willoughby at the Ball in London with a new paramour she is a mad woman, yelling and flailing about. It reminded me of the mad scene in Donizetti’s tragic opera Lucia di Lammermoor. Hard to know if this was the director’s choice of character interpretation or the actress’. Either way they missed the point and she out weighed the balance of the sense vs. sensibility dichotomy of the two sisters. Marianne’s descent into despair is engaging, in a “sick and wicked” sort of way, and is hard to not watch with some amazement, but you are duly forewarned.

Marianne di Lammermoor’s mad scene!

The costumes and hair: pictures can say so much more than I, so take a gander. Beyond the non-period bouffant hairdos for both women and men, the matching pelisses for Elinor and Marianne really made me roar with laughter.

 Chartreuse and pink twin pelisses!

The hair Louisa!

Clive Francis as Mr. Willoughby. Swoonable?

Milton Johns as John Dashwood, truly a weasel!

Kay Gallie as Fanny Dashwood, skinflint!

Image from Sense and Sensibility 1971: Richard Owens as Col. BrandonImage © BBC Warner 2009

Richard Owens as Col. Brandon, unrequited until the end!

Image from Sense and Sensibility 1971: Isabel Dean as Mrs. Dashwood and Patricia Routledge as Mrs. Jennings © BBC Warner 2009

Isabel Dean as Mrs Dashwood with Patricia Routledge as Mrs Jennings

If I seem a bit cynical about this production, please take it with a grain of salt. Firstly, I had heard tale of its charms for decades. Overall it is amusing in an historical perspective sort of way, but it was not what I was expecting and did not do justice to Austen’s plot or characters. Secondly, I am glad that it is now available and that I have experienced it. My curiosity duly quenched, I can now return it to NetFlix after three months of struggling through it in small doses. In conclusion, this Sense and Sensibility does show us how far historical drama has evolved in forty years, but sadly reminds us how far we have to go in perfecting interpretations of Austen’s prose on screen.

3 out of 5 Regency Stars 

Sense and Sensibility (1971)
Directed by David Giles
Screenplay by Denis Constanduros
Distributed by BBC Warner, (2009)
DVD, 178 minutes
ASIN: B002DY9KR0

Images courtesy © BBC Warner 2009

Craving More of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility? Read On!

“I shall divide every moment between music and reading. I have formed my plan, and am determined to enter on a course of serious study. Our own library is too well known to me, to be resorted to for anything beyond mere amusement. But there are many works well worth reading, at the Park; and there are others of more modern production which I know I can borrow of Colonel Brandon. By reading only six hours aday, I shall gain in the course of a twelvemonth a great deal of instruction which I now feel myself to want.” Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 46 

I hope that you enjoyed the Masterpiece Classic presentation of Sense and Sensibility on PBS last Sunday. I did, and it was definitely the highlight of The Complete Jane Austen series for me. It is well worth multiple viewing to revisit special moments like the first family dinner at Norland Park, Anne Steele’s blundering admission that Lucy and Edward are secretly engaged, or the seaside walk of Elinor and Marianne after their return to Barton cottage from London. 

Since this production will always be compared to the 1995 Ang Lee/Emma Thompson adaptation of the same name, I heartily encourage you to view it also. You just might recognize more than a few similarities in the script, camera angles and costumes! I did, so watch out for Margaret’s character expansion, Fanny Dashwood’s hair, clothing and inflections, and the Delaford picnic scene. Emma Thompson knows the value of Austen’s talent for humor, and her attention to the minor characters such as Sir John Middleton, Mrs. Jennings, the Palmers, and Lucy Steele really make the difference for me in the 1995 production. 

If you are craving more Sense and Sensibility, and are compelled to continue on your Austen quest, you will enjoy perusing these books to expand your knowledge and appreciation of Jane Austen’s story and characters.  

The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries, Emma Thompson, Newmarket Press (2007) revised edition. Synopsis from the publisher. Bringing Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility to the screen was a labor of love for writer/actress Emma Thompson. Featuring the complete award-winning script, Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries also showcases Thompson’s unreserved, often hilarious diaries that capture the unique experience of making this landmark film. In addition, the book includes an introduction by producer Lindsay Doran; over fifty photos; cast and crew credits; and Thompson’s sparkling Austen-like acceptance speech at the Golden Globe awards ceremony. Thompson’s rare and personal perspective makes Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries an irresistible book for students of film and Austen devotees, as well as for everyone who loved this extraordinary movie. ISBN: 9781557047823. Review on The Republic of Pemberley.

Reason and Romance, by Debra White Smith, Harvest House Publishers (2004). Second book in the Austen series. Synopsis from the publisher. Echoing the themes in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Debra White Smith crafts a delightful, contemporary story about passion and love. When Ted arrives, Elaina assumes he can’t be interested in her. But Ted surprises her. Attracted by his charming personality, Elaina dreams about love. But then comes shocking news. Has she made a mistake? The handsome Willis hints at engagement…and Elaina’s sister, Anna, is delighted. But when he is called away, he doesn’t leave a forwarding address. Brokenhearted, Anna falls into depression. Will she love again? Readers will be enraptured by this story about the joys and follies of infatuation and love. ISBN: 9780736908771. Interview with the author about her Austen series.   

Suspense and Sensibility, Or First Impressions Revisited, by Carrie Berbris, Tom Doughtery, Associates, LLC (2005). Second book in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery series. Synopsis from the publisher. In the spring of 1813, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy agree to sponsor Elizabeth’s sister Kitty for a season in London along with Darcy’s 17-year-old sister, Georgiana. In the course of their social rounds, Kitty meets Harry Dashwood – a younger cousin of the Sense and Sensibility Dashwood’s – and the courtship begins. Mr. Darcy makes inquiries into Harry’s character, fortune and expectations, but no sooner does he receive favorable answers than the suitor begins to behave most strangely. Harry gives a friend the “cut direct” outside Boodle’s Club, and there are rumors of gambling and worse excesses. The author smoothly combines characters from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility while remaining true to Austen’s originals. ISBN: 9780765350923. Review on Curl up with a good book. 

The Dashwood Sisters’ Secrets of Love, by Rosie Rushton, Hyperion Books, (2005). Synopsis from the publisher. The Walker sisters have always lived a privileged life in their beloved Holly House in Sussex. Even though their father, Max Walker, has left the family to live with his new macrobiotic-food-obsessed trophy wife, Pandora, he has always doted on his girls. But then one day, reality crashes down around them when Max has a heart attack and passes away, uncovering the truth that he was knee deep in debt. The Walkers discover that their home is actually in Pandora’s name and she decides she wants it back. So the family has to uproot their lives and move to the seaside town of Norfolk in an old cottage. What happens then? ISBN: 9780786851362. Review on A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy. 

The neverending sequel search continues. Here are more titles, but these are sadly out of print. Check out your local library, or buy them gently used from my favorite out of print and used book source online, Advanced Book Exchange; Eliza’s Daughter, by Joan Aiken, (1994), The Third Sister: A Continuation of Sense and Sensibility, by Julia Barrett, (1998), Margaret Dashwood or Interference, by Mrs. Francis Brown (Edith Charlotte Brown) (1929), Brightsea by Jane Gillespie (1997), and Elinor and Marianne: A Sequel to Sense and Sensibility, by Emma Tennant (1996).

 Happy reading to all!

Sense and Sensibility 2008: Cast Preview

Image of the Dashwood ladies, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)

“I am afraid,” replied Elinor, “that the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince its propriety.” 

“On the contrary, nothing can be a stronger proof of it, Elinor; for if there had been any real impropriety in what I did, I should have been sensible of it at the time, for we always know when we are acting wrong, and with such a conviction I could have had no pleasure.” Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 13

Some say that Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility is her darkest, dealing with the struggle of the principles of common sense against free sensibility, the English inheritance laws of stifling primogeniture and it’s crushing affect on the female line, and the ever-present question of marrying for love, or money?

All of these critical issues are addressed in the new BBC adaptation of Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility which will be presented on Masterpiece Classic on Sunday, March 30th and April 6th at 9:00 pm on PBS. You can read the plot synopsis here.

Adapted by Andrew Davies, of Pride and Prejudice fame, it aired in the UK in January to mixed reviews that were mostly favorable. Never one to miss an opportunity to stir the pot, Davies continues on his theory that Jane Austen is all about sex by adding some provocative scenes and enhancements to the story to suit his purpose; in order to make the story accessible and interesting to the modern audience by sexing up relationships and showing what Jane Austen implied, but did not write!

Never one to shun a good story, I have mixed feelings about this approach that I will discuss further in my review of episode one on Monday. In the meantime, I hope that you find this cast preview helpful. Sense and Sensibility has a very large list of characters in the novel, each of which adds to the progress of the plot, and reminds us of Jane Austen’s talent as a keen observer of human nature, foibles and all.

Cast Preview

Image of Hattie Morahan as Elinor Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Miss Elinor Dashwood (Hattie Morahan). Heroine age 19. Unmarried, eldest daughter of the late Henry Dashwood of Norland Park, Sussex and Mrs. Dashwood, recently of Barton Cottage, Devonshire. Dowry of 1000 pounds. Sensible, responsible and reserved. Some-what saintly in her abilities to place the welfare of her friends and family above her own concerns. Elinor’s strong good ‘sense’ and her stoic composure can be a comfort to her family, but stifles her emotions and can be interpreted as coldness by others.

Image of Charity Wakefield as Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Miss Marianne Dashwood (Charity Wakefield). Heroine age 16. Unmarried, second daughter of the late Henry Dashwood of Norland Park, Sussex and Mrs. Dashwood, recently of Barton Cottage, Devonshire. Dowry of 1000 pounds. Romantic, spontaneous and unguarded, she frequently thinks with her heart over her head, and often lacks proper propriety. Quick to judge, and often intolerant of different temperaments than her own, her ‘sensibility’ causes concern to her sister Elinor, and places her outside of societies dictum.

Image of Janet McTeer as Mrs. Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Mrs. Dashwood (Janet McTeer). Widow, age 40. Second wife of Henry Dashwood (recently deceased) of Norland Park, Sussex. Now of Barton Cottage, Devonshire owned by her cousin Sir John Middleton. Mother of Elinor, Marianne and Margaret. Step-mother to John Dashwood. Unprepared for widowhood and the responsibities of their new diminished financial situation. She and her daughter Marianne share an emotional and impulsive temperament, often making decisions based on feelings rather than reason.

Image of Lucy Boynton as Margaret Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Miss Margaret Dashwood (Lucy Boynton). Child, age 13. Third daughter of the late Henry Dashwood of Norland Park, Sussex and Mrs. Dashwood, recently of Barton Cottage, Devonshire. Dowry of 1000 pounds. Good-humored and well-disposed. Romantically influenced by her older sister Marianne, she is inexperienced and adventurous. Her character is expanded in the movie and serves as the inquisitor, often asking critical questions that her family needs to know, but because of propriety, can not ask.

Image of Dan Stevens as Edwards Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens). Hero. Bachelor, age 23 of Oxford. Son of Mrs. Ferrars (father deceased), brother of Fanny and Robert. Heir to the Ferrars fortune and his mother’s hope to achieve public status and distinction in politics. Educated, amiable and highly eligible, he is attentive to Elinor but guarded, distant and troubled at times. Secretly engage to Lucy Steele for four years hence. Honorable and principled, he is willing to forgo his fortune and future happiness to keep his word instead of being with the woman he loves.

Image of Linda Bassett as Mrs. Jennings, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Mrs. Jennings (Linda Bassett). Widow of Berkeley-street in London. Mother to Lady Middleton of Barton Park, Devonshire and Charlotte Palmer of Cleveland, Somersetshire. Talkative, overactive matchmaker who is often an embarrassment to the Dashwood’s. Wealthy empty-nester, bored, and determined to find matches for the Dashwood sisters. Gregarious, unrefined and excessively fond of gossip and a good tale, her well intentioned meddling into the Dashwood sister’s love lives is often unwelcome.

Image of Daisy Haggard as Anne Steele, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Miss Anne (Nancy) Steele (Daisy Haggard). Unmarried, age nearing 30, of Exeter. Mr. Pratt of Plymouth’s niece. Sister to Lucy Steele. Cousin of Lady Middleton of Barton Park, Devonshire. “With a very plain and not a sensible face, nothing to admire.” All “vulgar freedom and folly“. On the quest for prodigious, handsome, smart, and agreeable beaus. Can’t keep a secret, and often says the wrong thing and admits as much. Aggressively in pursuit of beaxs.  Unguarded, revealing her sister Lucy’s secret.

Image of Anna Madeley as Lucy Steele, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Miss Lucy Steele (Anna Madeley). Unmarried, age 22, of Exeter. Mr. Pratt of Plymouth’s niece. Sister to Anne Steele. Cousin of Lady Middleton of Barton Park, Devonshire. Monstrous pretty and naturally clever, but unrefined and uneducated, whose nature “joined insincerity with ignorance.” Secretly engaged to Edward Ferrars for four years hence, using this to hold Elinor at bay. A sly, scheming gold-digger, she is a chameleon of many colors, changing her alliances to suit her pocketbook.

Image of David Morrissey as Colonel Brandon, (2008)Colonel Brandon (David Morrissey). Hero. Bachelor, age 35, of Delaford in Dorsetshire. 2000 pounds a year. Retired from the Army. Rheumatic and wears flannel waistcoats.  Over-the-hill, infirmed and past romance according to Marianne. “if he were ever animated enough to be in love, must have long outlived every sensation of the kind.”. Sentimental. In his youth, he fell in love with a young woman who reminds him of Marianne, but his family did not approve of the match, and he was packed off into the army and sent aboard. Stoic, practical, and steadfast, his amiable qualities eventually outweigh his age.

Image of Claire Skinner as Fanny Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Mrs. Fanny Dashwood (Claire Skinner). Wife of John Dashwood of Norland Park, Sussex who is half brother of the Dashwood sisters. Daughter of Mrs. Ferrars, sister of Edward and Robert Ferrars. Mother of Little Henry (Harry) Dashwood. Arrogant, manipulative and selfish she knows the true value of a pence, and convinces her weak-minded husband to keep as much of the recently inherited Dashwood fortune as possible, slighting the second Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters, and forcing them into poverty.

Image of Dominic Cooper as John Willoughby, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)John Willoughby (Dominic Cooper). Bachelor, age 25 of Combe Magna, Somersetshire. Nephew of Mrs. Smith and heir of her estate Allenham Court, Devonshire. An outwardly dashing romantic Byron-esque hero, but in actuality, is an unprincipled deceitful rogue who trifles with young ladies affections by courting them for his own amusement. Later revealed to be a seducer, he is disinherited and is compelled to marry for money because he has squandered his own fortune. Ironically, he later regrets his marriage after his inheritance in restored. His callous quest for money over love is his downfall.

Image of Jean March as Mrs. Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Mrs. Ferrars (Jean Marsh). Widow of Park Street, London. Mother of Edward, Robert and Fanny. “a little, thin woman, upright to formality, in her figure, and serious, even to sourness, in her aspect.” The wealthy, manipulative and officious matriarch of the Ferrars family. Her son Edward is her favorite, and she and his sister Fanny “longed to see him distinguished” in public life. He prefers the opposite, a quiet private life. Money and social position are her precept. Her attempts to control her children’s lives by threats of disinheritance are feared, but shallow, as they all choose their own rout anyway.

Image of Morgan Overton as Little Henry Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Little Henry (Harry) Dashwood (Morgan Overton). Child, age 4 (but looks about 6). Son of John and Fanny Dashwood of Norland Park, Sussex and heir to that estate. Likes to visit the wild beasts at Exeter Exchange. Spoiled and obnoxious. For Little Harry’s sake, the Dashwood sisters live like impoverished gypsies after his mother Fanny convinces his father John Dashwood to greatly reduce his financial support of his step-mother and half-sisters after the death of Henry Dashwood, his grandfather.

Enjoy the film!

Images courtesy of Masterpiece Classic PBS © 2008; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2008, Austenprose.com