Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sense and Sensibility on PBS, Parts 1-2

PBS just finished its rebroadcast of Sense and Sensibility on Sunday, and even though I'm a huge fan of the book and especially the Emma Thompson movie version, this one was not an altogether bad interpretation. In fact, I liked it quite nicely. It followed the book for the most part, with only a pesky scene here or there that I found egregiously troublesome.

1. A steamy opening sequence, something I've now come to expect from screenwriter Andrew Davies. He likes to change how a book begins. Nothing is ever implied in his scripts. He wanted us to know that Willoughby (Dominic Cooper)was a cad from the very beginning instead of towards the middle of the book like Austen intended. It was confusing, and if you weren't familiar with the story, you'd have no idea what was going on.

2. Harry Dashwood, the firstborn son of Fanny and John Dashwood finally gets some screen time. However, this is not how he's depicted in the book, and the poor kid looks miserable. Just look how they dressed him.

3. Where are the Palmer's, the daughter and son-in-law of Mrs. Jennings? They are only briefly seen after she gives birth. In the book and movie version, they were some of the funniest characters, with Mrs. Palmer's obnoxious gaiety, and her husband's non-contrite rudeness towards her. Also Lucy Steele, what little screen time she had made her seem more innocent than conniving, like she is in the book, and no time was devoted to how she fell in love with Robert Ferrars. They were just suddenly married. We saw none of the aftermath.

4. Gentling Marianne "like a horse". Every time I hear that, I try to find it in the book. It's just not there. It takes several years for her to fall in love with the Colonel. He doesn't treat her like he's breaking a horse, or in essence, play hard to get. In another scene Mr. Davies has him commanding Marianne to "Come here" as she looks at him all starry-eyed while he handles a hawk on his arm. I was more than slightly offended. Women are not horses, Mr. Davies.

I will add though, the Colonel was pretty good looking in this version. So was Edward Ferrars. I though both were better looking than Willoughby. Is that what Jane Austen intended?

But for the most part, I just love this story, and will take it in its many forms, horses and all.

I did like the addition of Mrs. Ferrars (Jean Marsh), played remarkably well with just the perfect amount of "bitchiness" and snobbery. The scene were Marianne puts her in her place is perfect.

And Elinor (Hattie Morahan) was also very good. She was both serious and vulnerable at the same time. Her face looked as though she carried the weight of her family's woes upon her shoulders. A remarkable actress.

I thought Willoughby was perfectly mischievous looking and I was particularly glad they included the scene where he returns to beg forgiveness after Marianne's illness. I almost felt bad for him then. Almost.

It must have been hard to take over the character of Marianne after Kate Winslet immortalized the part, but this actress (Charity Wakefield) does a good job of portraying both the innocence and recklessness of this young heroine.

Overall, a delightful adaptation.
True love indeed does conquer all, and I love Jane for it.
Somewhere in the oblivion of my VHS pile, I think I have this taped. If anyone wants to borrow it. It's worth watching with a cup of marshmallow-laden cocoa when the kids are finally in bed.


Bryce and Mandy said...

I thought I hadn't seen this until I saw the pictures and I remembered I watched it last year. I did like it, not as much as the Emma Thompson version, but it was pretty good.

I remember I liked the Marianne actress in this one better then Kate Winslet. I am not a big fan of Winslet as Marianne, although I am probably the only one in the world who thinks that.

Lula O said...

It's worth watching. They are all really good actors.