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

47 thoughts on “The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries, by Emma Thompson – A Review

  1. I adore this movie and Emma Thompson has done a great job at the screenplay. I would love to read the Screenplay, but won’t participate in the Giveaway this time. Thanks for recommending the book!

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  2. It is one of my favorite movies as well. I can remember counting the days until it came to the local theater. Then who would believe they had trouble with the film and cut the viewing short, but gave us movie passes to return the next night. Of course, trying to find a sitter two nights in a row. . .

    It was well worth it and I have the dvd and CD of the sound track from the movie.

    What a wonderful idea for a book – thank you for the review.

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  3. The novel has a very special place in my heart, and I think this is my favourite adaptation. Reading through Emma Thompson’s screenplay and diaries would be wonderful!

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  4. I loved the movie when I saw it at the theater in 1995 — burst into tears at the scene where Emma Thompson breaks down when she learns that Edward is NOT married. I was so taken with the charactor Elinor, and with Jane Austen the writer, that when I was blessed with a daughter in 2000, I named her Elinor Jane!

    I have read the book you reviewed, and it really shows you what it takes to make a movie set in another time period. So many great parts to that book, but one that struck me was Taiwanese director Ang Lee’s response as they were casting the film that everyone in Britain seems to know how to act well!

    Melinda in PA

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  5. I agree with your positive comments, Laurel Ann, EXCEPT…. that I have one significant complaint, which is that Thompson & Lee (I don’t know whose decision it was) completely omitted the scene when Willoughby shows up drunk at Cleveland on that dark and stormy night, and he and Elinor have their incredibly dramatic scene alone together.

    Does anyone know if this scene was in Thompson’ original screenplay at all? Or if the scene was actually shot, but then was left on the cutting floor?

    Cheers, ARNIE
    sharpelvessociety.blogspot.com

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  6. I loved this movie and although I’ve long been a fan of Emma Thompson, the actress, I was unaware that she wrote the screenplay. A favorite character is Colonel Brandon – his absolute and unselfish devotion, and I like Alan Rickman. Thanks for the giveaway.

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  7. I wish Emma Thompson would write an autobiography as her diary part of this book is so entertaining. You feel like you are right there with her as she sits at the hotel bar removing eye makeup with cotton balls piling up in front of her. I have read this about 3 or 4 times now.

    The screenplay is surprisingly entertaining too although I am pretty sure your favourite scene Arnie is not in there. It runs pretty close to what was filmed but it is fun to see the small differences between what was filmed and what she originally intended.

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  8. Jenny, I am sure it was not in Thompson’s version, but I am pretty sure that Davies DID include that scene in his version.

    I can’t find my copy of Thompson’s Diaries right now, but I am 99% certain that Thompson talks about this omission in them–if anyone reading this has a copy, and would be willing to check to see if my recall is accurate, please tell us what Thompson said on this topic!

    Cheers, ARNIE
    sharpelvessociety.blogspot.com

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  9. This remains my favorite Austen film adaptation… bar none. Emma Thompson truly deserved the awards and accolades she received, and glad she shared the Oscar honor with director Ang Lee during her acceptance speech. I still can’t believe they gave Lee the Oscar for Brokeback Mountain, but not this one…

    Kate Winslet’s interpretation of Marianne is my favorite, truly close to what I envisioned her spirit, her passion, her impetuosity to be… and more. And Greg Wise is my favorite Willoughby, ever. I recall an interview of Emma Thompson where she shared that a fortune teller told Greg Wise that he will meet his future wife in the set of S&S. Since Emma Thompson was still with Branagh then, Wise naturally thought it must have been Winslet! Courted her assiduously, which I think translated on to the screen, but it turned out that it would be Emma Thompson after all! =)

    Please enter me in this one. Will provide US address, if I’m so lucky! =)

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  10. I loved this movie and it’s still one of my favorite adaptations of the book. Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson are just fabulous.

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  11. I really think that it was perfectly casted. All the actors did amazing jobs portraying their characters. I think Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson were so believable as 2 sisters, which made the movie what it was.

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  12. My favorite was Colonel Brandon. I don’t know, I just like the way he reads poetry, and is kind to Marianne (as well as when he saves her).

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  13. I love this movie as well! Emma Thompson was fantastic in this movie and did such a wonderful job with the screenplay. I liked the other actors very much, but I will always picture Elinor as Emma Thompson’s portrayal of her. I’m reading “The Three Weismann’s of Westport” right now and, even in that, I can’t help but picture Annie as Emma Thompson!

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  14. I love this movie as well. Elinor was my favourite character from the book but I really enjoyed Kate Winslet’s portrayal of Marianne. Thanks for the review.

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  15. Alan Rickman as Col. Brandon, without a doubt. He was incredible as Brandon – so amazing, in fact, thats its hard to imagine what Marianne ever saw in Willoughby!

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  16. This version of S&S is not only my favorite version of this Austen novel, but one of my favorite films of all time. I agree with your review that just about everything in the film is perfect. I have watched it many times and never grow tired of it. I haven’t yet read the screenplay/diary and I really need too!

    Great review!

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  17. I have to say that Elinor is my favorite character, and I LOVE Emma Thompson’s portrayal of her! Elinor is a character that sometimes gets overlooked in favor of more sparkly heroines such as Lizzy Bennet and Emma Woodhouse, but she has a very deep and important personality. Thompson makes us realize that Elinor may be the responsible one, but she is far, far from boring.

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    • I agree with you Summer, I think most characters that are portrayed to be “sensible” tend to get overlooked – yet, the funny thing is, in real life, we ought to aspire to be like them! :)

      ~Hira~

      Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
      Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

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  18. This movie is what started my love of all things Austen :o) Every character is perfectly played & it is hard to pick a favorite but I love Emma Thompson’s Elinor!

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  19. I own this book and absolutely loved reading it. Emma Thompson is my career idol and her writings inspired me to begin writing myself.

    Thompson’s adaptation of Sense and Sensibility is my favorite Austen film and the diary/behind the scenes information is fascinating.

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  20. This movie was my FIRST look into the world of Jane Austen outside of my own imagination. At the beginning of the movie, I absolutely DESPISED Kate Winslet as Marianne, and (as always) I thought Emma Thompson could do no wrong, and thought her fantastic. But by the end of the movie, I was truly baffled by how well Kate had portrayed Marianne and her naivete. And Alan Rickman played Colonel Brandon, to a T. In all honesty, it is REALLY difficult for me to choose who was the best in the movie, but if I really had to pick, I’d pick Emma Thompson as Elinor (amongst the females), and Alan Rickman as Col. Brandon (amongst the males). Love the movie, and loved the book. Thank you so much for the wonderful opportunity! :D

    ~Hira~

    Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
    Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

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  21. Ladies:
    I agree with every one of your accolades but I have to add one more reason to enthuse over Emma Thompson’s film, Sense & Sensibility.
    The music for the film, written by Patrick Doyle was marvelous!
    Who doesn’t recall that heartbreaking scene where Eleanor is standing, unnoticed at the doorway, listening to her sister play “My Father’s Favourite”, and Edward approaches and offers her his sympathy, a hankerchief and some diversion!
    Music transports the emotions and Patrick Doyle gave us a first-class ride!
    Barbara

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    • Hear, hear! And hearing THE Jane Eaglen sing the songs at the end credits just thrilled me to no end… divine! =)

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  22. This is my absolute favorite movie (and it gave me an introdcution to Jane Austen), so it is really difficult for me to choose a favorite character. If I had to, I guess Elinor would come out the winner there. The scene where she begs Marianne not to leave her breaks my heart every time I watch it. I’m getting teary just thinking about it. Also, the scene when she finds out Edward is unmarried. I just love it.

    And Barbara is right, Patrick Doyle’s music adds a wonderful layer to the whole movie. I had to have the sheet music for the two songs Marianne sings after I saw the movie.

    I have read the Screenplay and Diaries for the movie before, but several years ago. I will be rereading it for the challenge. Your review, Laural Ann, reminded me how funny it was the first time I read it.

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  23. I love this movie. Well, I just love anything Jane Austen. I love Alan Rickman. I think he does a phenomenal job as Colonel Brandon. Two of my favorite parts of the movie are when Colonel Brandon brings Marianne flowers and when he reads to Marianne while she is recovering from her illness. How sweet!

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  24. This was my first Jane Austen movie to watch… and I was so engrossed in it that I watched it TWICE!! Back to back viewings!! I can’t say that I just have one favorite person in this movie… They all did such a fabulous job of it. I loved Elinor for her patience and reserve, although her heart was broken, thanks to Miss Lucy Steele!! Ugh!!! Hated that wretched girl!! LOL I love Marianne for her feistiness… she wasn’t afraid to put her heart out there, even though it was trampled on by that rake, Mr. Willoughby. Mrs. Jennings… what a fun, jovial person…. and quite the busy body! LOL And I loved Col. Brandon & Edward Ferrars too! All this talk about S&S makes me want to get my DVD out & watch it again :)

    Looking forward to reading this, and have it on my to-read list ;)

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  25. I loved Alan Rickman as Col. Brandon! He played him really well. Of course, I also loved Willoughby! Even if he was a cad, he was a handsome one indeed! My small favorite was Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of Mr. Palmer. :]

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  26. Emma Thompson’s adaptation of Sense and Sensibility is Brilliant, with a capital B! I love almost anything Emma Thompson does, she is so smart and witty! All of the actors in the movie hit just the right note playing their characters, brought to life by Ms. Thompson’s screenplay.

    The three girls are a mirror to my own family of sisters, there being three of us, one each just like the Dashwood girls. I understand Elinor and her need to economize and her “understated” love for Edward; I feel for Marianne and her great passion for Willoughby, but I am glad she eventually sees the value of Col. Brandon’s love; and of course, Margaret, whose irresistable remarks “should” be restricted to the weather–but who can’t love Mrs. Jennings because she “talks about things”.

    It is lovely outside today, but I think I might just have to snuggle in tonight with Emma Thompson’s movie and enjoy it all over again!

    Kim

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  27. Alan Rickman as Col. Brandon is my very favorite character in this movie. When he reads to Marianne in the garden while she’s re-couperating, I swoon.

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  28. How wonderful to learn I have a winner waiting for me — I have yet to see the 1995 version of Sense & Sensibility (have the 1981 Irene Richard version and the 2008 Hattie Morahan version).

    Also just learned about
    “The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries” written by Emma Thompson — and I’ll order that at the same time.

    Thank you thank you for AustenProse. I look forward to more
    reviews on the fourth Wednesday of every month

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  29. This is indeed a fun book–I loved it and can’t wait to reread it myself this summer. I’ve been lending it to fellow JASNA members who wanted to read it during this year of S&S, so it should come back to me in June.

    I just finished rewatching this movie and while I don’t consider it my favorite S&S anymore, it is still very, very good. I love the music and the sets and the clothes, and the script, though I cannot forgive ET for leaving out what I consider one of the most crucial scenes in the book–i.e., Willoughby’s visit to Cleveland while Marianne is ill where he explains himself to Elinor.

    I was also struck by the music during this viewing and half expect myself to give in to temptation and buy the soundtrack.

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  30. Emma Thompson/Ang Lee Sense and Sensibility, one of the great Jane Austen film adaptations. Also one of Patrick Doyle’s best scores — I have it on CD and listen often. I notice several people chose Colonel Brandon portrayed by Alan Rickman as their favorite character — good choice! Somehow even with Hugh Grant and Greg Wise in the cast, Mr. Rickman shines as the most attractive. However since he has been chosen as a favorite by others, I will choose one who I don’t believe has been mentioned — Mrs. Jennings played by the great and irresistible Elizabeth Spriggs — she jumps off the pages of Jane Austen’s novel, just as I imagined her. So my vote goes to Elizabeth Spriggs.

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  31. Oh, so not fair having to pick “a” character….the one I identify with the most and would most want to spend time with would be Elinor, of course. But oh how Mrs. Jennings, Fannie, and Charlotte add such liveliness to the film. And then the swoony Col. Brandon was so perfectly played with such restrained passion by Alan Rickman. This S&S adaptions so deftly wove together the beauty of the landscape, the humor of the language of Jane, the feel of the period, and the story of love not only between men and women but families and sisters. I know I gush but one of my favorite parts is when Elinor,who is always reasonable and composed, finally realizes that her love, Edward, is not married and all is possible and she completely, and joyfully loses it, sobbing and smiling for all to see. I love this movie and anything Emma has to share about it I will only increase my appreciation.

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  32. While rereading S&S, I am listening to the score for the Emma Thompson/Ang Lee film by Patrick Doyle, one of his most felicitous — if you don’t own it already, I highly recommend it. Another way to celebrate this special year for S&S.

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  33. Col. Brandon, hands down. Of course it doesn’t hurt that he was played by the one and only Alan Rickman.

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  34. Oh how I love Sense and Sensibility. It’s hard to narrow down my favorite character I love them all. It’s a tie between Elinor and Marianne.
    Then there is Col. Brandon and Edward Farris in a tie for the men.
    My favorite couple though would have to be Charlotte and Mr. Palmer. Such funny characters.
    And the soundtrack is amazing too!

    Such a great site. Glad I found you.

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  35. I have this movie DVR’d, and can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it! My favorite character is Elinor, followed closely by Col. Brandon. Would love to read this book. It sounds fabulous!

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  36. Pingback: The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011 « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

  37. Pingback: Winner Announced in The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Reading Challenge Giveaway! « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

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