Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sense and Sensibility- 1995 vs 2008

Sense and Sensibility 1995

Having watched both versions of Sense and Sensibility recently, I feel the time is right for a post comparing and contrasting the two versions (does that sound like an English Lit class?-sorry!).

One version I like and the other version I love. Can you already tell which is which?

Sense and Sensibility 2008

The 2008 BBC miniseries with screenplay by Andrew Davies and directed by John Alexander is an excellent treatment of Jane Austen's first published novel. I adore Andrew Davies and I did not envy him the task of following Emma Thompson's Oscar winning screenplay. When he took on the job, he decided to go back to the book and pull out plot points that ET had been forced to omit in her shorter version.

Willoughby and Marianne

The dramatization of the seduction scene, the restoration of the elder Steele sister (comic gold, I tell you) and the dueling scene really do add to the meat of this version. There is also no doubt that the scene at Allenham with Willoughby and Marianne is sizzling with sexual tension and greatly adds to Marianne's story.

OK, little Henry Dashwood was hilarious

There are lots of things about this version that I truly enjoy. The young actors are amazing and the locations gorgeous and appropriately bleak.  To paraphrase Elinor, "I do not attempt to deny that I think very highly of it -- that I greatly esteem, that I like it."

However, I think you have guessed by now that the version I truly adore is the 1995 Emma Thompson/Ang Lee masterpiece. I just popped it in my DVD player and the first strains of music go straight to my heart!


Oh, the hats of Sense and Sensibility!

There is no doubt that the genius and humour of Emma Thompson's script is at the heart of what makes this version great. She changed so much of Jane Austen's dialogue and yet because she does it so well, we not only forgive her but we begin to look for her lines in the book!

Oh, the scenery and the cinematography!

Ang Lee's direction is also heartbreakingly artistic. How a Taiwanese man was able to interpret the intentions of a 200 year old story by an English lady is a mystery, but there it is!

But the music!

The original score of Sense and Sensibility is some of the most sublime music ever composed. Was there ever a film so enhanced and elevated by it's music? Both the background music and the piano compositions played by Marianne...sigh!

And if I start waxing poetic about the superb acting in this film by some of England's finest thespians this post will go on forever.

OK, time for my readers to weigh in. What do you like or dislike about each of these two versions? Don't hold back!

P.S. I have also recently compared TV/film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice if you would like to join that discussion too!

103 comments:

  1. I prefer the latter for all the reasons you state, although the ET version still holds a treasured spot in my heart, and you're right, it does capture the essence of S&S so beautifully with music and visuals.

    The acting in both is just superb as are the scripts, and Andrew Davies did opt for the format that enabled him to go longer than 2 hours, which the story needs to be complete.

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  2. Although I have to admit that I have only seen the 2008 Andrew Davies version once (I think I borrowed your copy, didn't I?) - I'm going to have to take another look at it, because I don't actually remember the elder Steele sister (anything described as comic gold has got my attention!) or little Henry Dashwood. As you well know, the 1995 Emma Thompson/Ang Lee version is completely written on my heart and I think I know it word for word, note for note, shot for shot. Perfection (sigh)! And I love the extras on the DVD - the commentary by Emma Thompson and Lindsay Doran is too funny (the fainting sheep!) and Emma's acceptance speech at the Golden Globes (written as reportage from Jane Austen herself) is fabulous.

    But lend me your copy of 2008 S & S again (I DID give it back, didn't I?) and I'll take another look ... I'm sure I'll greatly esteem it, too.

    Haven't yet been able to convince your niece to watch it with me, but one of these days I'm hoping it'll become a mother-daughter bonding moment for us!

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  3. I love both versions, but haven't watched them for a few years. On watching the 2008 version, it took top spot, because of all the "extras" of the longer format and feeling the actors were more appropriate...but I also love the 1995 version! I call it a draw...and we can all enjoy both. :) I even did fanvids for both versions. ;)

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  4. I agree with you. I think Emma's is the superior S&S. I think Thompson and Grant clicked, and Kate Winslet was spot on in her dramatics and acceptance. I can still hear Brandon saying, "Give me something to do or I shall run mad!" And Hugh Laurie nearly stole the movie.

    The later version is OK, but I didn't buy it. That tells you something.

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  5. I think what I dislike about the 1995 version is the cast looks much older than the characters they play. The 2008 cast looks more the age of the characters they play. But I love both, and you can't go wrong with either. But I think I would lean towards the 2008 version since I love David Morrisey. Even if Col. Brandon is my favorite role that Alan Rickman has done

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  6. Oh well done, Jenny! I too love the music from the 1995 S&S, they need to make more soundtracks like that one! :)

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  7. Hi Jenny:

    I would have to say without a doubt the 1995 version. And not only because it was my first exposure to Jane Austen. Although I liked seeing the extended scenes in the newer version, I love the cast of Ang Lee's masterpiece. I think Alan Rickman could act with the back of his head!
    I think a movie version of Sense and Sensibility hangs on casting the right Colonel Brandon and Edward. They are gone for such long passages of the story that they have to be memorable and make an impact. Edward was great, but I thought Col. Brandon was lacking. For me he was too reserved. Perhaps it was the directing. I would have chosen Willobey as well.
    Dare I say it...I am torn however, between Emma Thompson and Hattie Morahan as Elinor. They both captured the role perfectly.

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  8. Hello Sense and Sensibility lovers! I am so glad there is no consensus on this one. Yay for both versions! And apparently I will have to lend my 2008 version to my sister again so she can appreciate the comic genius of Jane Austen in the form of the elder Miss Steele and her many beaux!

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  9. you know, i thought that this would've been an easy going, stressfree blog... but now i have to choose the better between two perfectly excellent movies?!:)...sigh
    "I think Alan Rickman could act with the back of his head!" - soo funny but soo true. (i even liked him in Robinhood)
    i really loved the cast for both but with a preference for 1995's Elinor's 'paroxysmal' reaction at the end(kinda like a 3D effect of her emotions), Colonel Brandon and Mr Palmer and his wife. for 2008 the heavyweight is Edward and the chemistry between himself and Elinor and the rest of Elinor's family. but both stories - excellent.

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  10. I definitely prefer the 2008 version. Personnaly I find Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant too modern for the movie. Also the music from the new series is so beautiful... I don't know about you guys but the music from the 1998s didn't stay in my mind.

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  11. Can someone please explain to me why Marianne called Fanny, "Aunt Fanny" or "Aunt" during the first 9 minutes of the 2008 version?

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    1. Hello Jaunita. Andrew Davies made a mistake! You are so right. I never noticed that Marianne calls her Aunt Fanny in the 2008 version, although all the references to her husband call him their brother or half-brother. Rare mistake for the brilliant Andrew Davies! Shall we let him know or do you think he caught it but too late?

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    2. Actually, Collins English Dictionary lists a third definition of "aunt" as: "a term of address used by children for any woman, especially a friend of the parents." It was a less formal address than "Mrs. Dashwood," but not so intimate as calling Fanny by her first name, which would have been considered disrespectful. So no worries about Andrew Davies' brilliance! ;) He's just a little too brilliant for modern society. It took quite a bit of research for me to find the explanation!

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    3. Just to add to this thought: I'm from New England and where I come from "aunt" is used in this sentiment as well. For example, my mother's cousin was always "aunt" to me. This wasn't the case for my father's family.

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    4. I'm British. It's just a mistake, you might call somebody aunt out of affection, but not if a closer relationship exists, such as sister.

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  12. It is the 2008 version all the way for me. Very true to the book but with just the right amount of embellishment. Hattie Morahan is not only more believable as Eleanor, but also made the part her own. She was superb. Dan Stevens also made Edward far more sympathetic than the very stilted performance by Hugh Grant. The settings, the music and the casting were all spot on. There really is no comparison. One is a stand alone film, the other is a brilliant representation of the novel.

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    1. Hi Anonymous. For fave version of Sense and Sensibility, there seems to be a split down the middle. I think maybe the younger crowd tends to prefer the newer version. Goes to show that both are wonderful and deserve to be appreciated!

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    2. Well, I am not so young, but I also prefer the 2008 version. I think that Hattie Morahan is wonderful as Eleanor, and I adore Dan Stevens! I love the chemistry between the two. I also love the youngest sister. She is adorable!

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    3. completely agree. Watched the ET version once, not impressed in the least. 08 Version is the best!

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    4. "completely agree. Watched the ET version once, not impressed in the least. 08 Version is the best!"

      Well said. The 1995 adaptation may have been a big deal when it was released, but it seems less and less impressive with the passage of time. It simply hasn't held up particularly well. The rather broad, exaggerated, mannered performances are a big part of the problem. The 2008 version, by contrast, has characters who behave much more like believable people; the performances are more natural and subtle, with none of the over-the-top emoting that is seen in the 1995 film. For example, Emma Thompson's outburst near the end is ridiculous, inappropriate for the character of Elinor, and sexist in its promulgating stereotypes of "hysterical women; Imelda Staunton and Elizabeth Spriggs are similarly over-the-top and shrill; Hugh Grant takes his awkwardness entirely too far (although, to be fair, Edward is meant to be awkward--just not THAT much); Alan Rickman is alternately stiff and overly theatrical; etc.

      The production and camera work in the 1995 film are also uninspiring. Ang Lee can't seem to find anything truly interesting to do with the camera; compare the many static and boringly-framed shots in the 1995 film with the genuinely creative, innovative, and lively filming in the 2008 version. The 2008 version has overhead shots of carriages driving onward, clever and symbolic cutting between Willoughby's blood during the duel (over his dishonorable actions toward Eliza and Marianne) and the blood-red wax with which the heartbroken Marianne seals her desperate letter to him, poignant close-ups of characters (Elinor in particular) during their most vulnerable moments, symbolic use of the tide and crashing waves to mirror characters' feelings, and many, many others. Ang Lee's direction is tepid, stiff, and journeyman-like in comparison. He was embarrassed by the vulnerable emotions in Austen's story, so he managed to sabotage all of the best moments that Austen created (and that Emma Thompson somewhat awkwardly and inadequately translated to a screenplay--but, to be fair, *most* screenwriters who adapt Austen don't even begin to approach Austen's genius, and most of the scenes that they *add* to Austen, e.g., the 1995 film's "atlas scene" and the many bad jokes of Edward's, don't mesh with the rest of the work).

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  13. I, like many of you, am really torn. There are many qualities of the 95 version, most notably the performances of Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet, and yes, Hugh Laurie, that are indelibly etched in my catalog of fondness. But I agree with many posters that Hattie Morahan was sublime in her subdued suffering. I also felt that many of those cast in the 1995 version were older than they ought to have been in order to be true to the story. Just think on it...it did seem absurd for Colonel Brandon (AR) to be considering Marianne for a wife, but Elinor (ET) would not have seemed a stretch at all. I even recall thinking after the production was over and it became public knowledge that ET and Greg Wise (Willoughby) were an item that he is awfully young for her, when in fact he is only 7 years younger than her but was 9 years older than Kate Winslet, making Emma and Kate 16 years apart in age.
    Lastly, I just don't dig Hugh Grant. He did too many movies in that era like Notting Hill and 4 Weddings and a Funeral where he plays kind of a foppish absent minded pushover. I think of Edward Ferrars as being a dutiful, honorable man who would foresake his own feelings and hopes of personal happiness to uphold a vow he made as a younger man. Daniel Stevens seems tortured by his obligation to Lucy Steele, whereas Hugh Grant just comes off as confused.

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    1. I could have written this! This is exactly what I have always felt about this film. I couldn't buy it, because Hugh Grant is kind of a man-child in real life, and his veneer of charming British befuddlement now makes me a little annoyed post-90s. But that's because I didn't see the film until much later, long after it came out. Also I feel that ET is the most incredible actress and I love love love her but she is too old to play that role and be believable. But I do love her. And she is brilliant.

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  14. Ang Lee is Taiwanese. Also a little offensive that you said that it was a mystery to you that he was able to interpret Austen's intentions based solely on his race...

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    1. I am very sorry if any offence was taken to my perhaps flippant remark. I have corrected his nationality (thanks for pointing that out). I actually think it is rather wonderful that the filmmakers were able to see past his nationality and sex to see that he could really express Jane Austen in film. Again, apologies.

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    2. I recently read a review that indicated Mr. Lee is of upper-class Taiwanese family. He would be familiar with the demands of family for 'suitable' marriages as far as finances and position are concerned. In another film featuring Emma Thompson, Remains of the Day, he also showed familiarity with more modern upper-class British senses and sensibilities.

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    3. I need to correct part of the comment above. You probably already know, Merchant & Ivory produced Remains of the Day. The novel was written by Japanese author, Kazuo Ishiguro, making it as much a surprise as Ang Lee directing this film. However, here is Mr. Lee on his involvement: Lee said, "I thought they were crazy: I was brought up in Taiwan, what do I know about 19th-century England? About halfway through the script it started to make sense why they chose me. In my films I've been trying to mix social satire and family drama. I realized that all along I had been trying to do Jane Austen without knowing it. Jane Austen was my destiny. I just had to overcome the cultural barrier."

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  15. Hi,
    Could you tell me, what is the second piece Marianne had played at the beginning of the 1995 version - aprox. at 4:30.
    Thank you very much in advance.
    Regards,
    Ildikó

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    1. Hello Ildiko. I don't know what that piece of music is. You mean the one where Elinor says "I meant something less mournful dear" don't you? I looked online and there doesn't seem to be a name for it. Anyone else know? Wiki answers?

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    2. Hello Jenny,
      Yes, exactly. I have spent myself days on the internet searching for it, but it seems, nobody likes these kind of sad songs :)
      Btw. the piece's mood I looking for is recall op. 28 no. 4 by Chopin for me, but unfortunately I am not familar with his oeuvre.

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    3. I am not regular on this blog, but a bit about the music in your query. First, most of the soundtrack is by modern composer Patrick Doyle. And so that you know, anything by Chopin would be a horrid anachronism in a Jane Austen story. This book was written in 1795, published in 1811. Chopin was then in his first year of life, and we presume, had not yet set one note to a score. He flourished in the 1830s, two decades after the author's death. The soundtrack is available as a CD, under the same title as the film (and book, of course).

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  16. I saw the ET version first and loved it, then I read the book and thought, "Wait a minute, where's all these characters?" The ET version cut out so many people which added depth and sorry to say it but ET was way too old to play Eleanor, she just didn't look 19. I listened to her commentary and she noted that which I believe she took offense but sorry ET it's the truth.

    The BBC version casts actors/actresses that look the part age wise. It included so many characters that were left out and added to important scene of Willoughby coming to see about Marianne when she was sick.

    So because I like versions that stick to the book I like the BBC better but will say that the ET one is beautiful and the music is awesome. I personally love Alan Rickman so of course I loved him in the ET one.

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    1. Hi Anonymous. We are lucky to have both versions aren't we? And the book of course. I hope they do another version of each book every decade. Never too much Austen on film for me!

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    3. I agree with everything you say, these were all positive things that ET script had ignored. BUT I am rewatching the 2008 version right now and I can't believe all the things that Andrew Davies purposely changed in the script. He was not that faithful to the novel in important dialogue lines for no apparent reason (exept to make it even more different to ET's???)

      For example, in the miniseries the first episode is all about how Marianne really liked Colonel Brandon before Willoughby appears in the scene, and how the three of them even talk playfully about it and Mrs Dashwood and elinor tell her she should pay attention to him. This is nowhere in the book. Marianne doesn't show interest in Colonel Brandon until she learns about Eliza's story. She is also really annoyed about all the gossip in Barton Park about them. Also Colonel Brandon is much more reserved towards Marianne in the book than in the series. More like Alan Rickman.

      They also present the mother as worried about the fact that Marianne and Willoughby haven't told them if they are engaged, whereas Elinor says it is kind of obvious they are. In the novel is completely the other way around. Elinor is so uptight and worried about it while the mother is relaxed and convinced they are.

      They also, very clearly, make Edward much lighter and funny and Elinor less strict. On the other hand they don't fall into the extremes ET here and there wrote for Marianne in her script. I always thought that ET just loved Elinor so much that she wanted to make sure that everyone would love her much more than Marianne as well, giving her some lines that made her look more selfish and odious than she really is in the novel. In any case, Kate Winslet will always be for me, the best Marianne. And since I saw her back in 1996 KW has been my favourite actress.

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    4. And Marianne doesn't go all across a room full of people and shout "Willoughby!" in the novel... I hated that in the 1995 film and I can't understand why they kept it in the 2008 as well... seriously.

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    5. I have just reread the novel, and yes, Marianne does just that.

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    6. "For example, in the miniseries the first episode is all about how Marianne really liked Colonel Brandon before Willoughby appears in the scene, and how the three of them even talk playfully about it and Mrs Dashwood and elinor tell her she should pay attention to him. This is nowhere in the book."

      Yes, I have to agree. In the book, they don't *encourage* Marianne to think of Brandon as a possible romantic interest; instead, they acknowledge that there is a considerable age difference (Elinor even says that 17 is too young for a man of Brandon's age, but a woman of 27 would be appropriate), and they defend Brandon from Marianne's claims that he is "infirm," but that is as far as it goes. They certainly don't say, as Mrs. Dashwood is made to do in the 2008 adaptation, that "men of 35 have married girls of 17 before," as if Marianne would care! ;)

      "Also Colonel Brandon is much more reserved towards Marianne in the book than in the series. More like Alan Rickman."

      I agree that the 2008 version doesn't depict Brandon as being quite reserved enough, but Alan Rickman's Brandon really isn't all that reserved towards Marianne, either, in my opinion. He is shown lending her a knife (which implies that he must have been watching her, in order to have known that she needed it, right?), playing that outdoor bowling game with her, and bringing her flowers. If anything, he is too clingy. But, as I said, that's also a problem in the 2008 version. David Morrissey is more natural and likable in the role than Rickman is, however, so I think it works a little better.

      "On the other hand they don't fall into the extremes ET here and there wrote for Marianne in her script."

      Nearly all of the female characters "fall into extremes" in Thompson's script--Marianne, Elinor (which is VERY wrong, of course, since Elinor is *supposed* to be a model of sense and moderation, not strict and snappish), Mrs. Jennings, Charlotte Palmer, Mrs. Dashwood, etc. The 1995 filmmakers must have had the misogynistic viewpoint that all women are either "hysterical" and "shrill," or cold and humorless. The 2008 adaptation gives us far more nuanced, realistic portrayals of women.

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  17. I love the '95 Ang Lee-Emma Thompson version and have always thought it excelled in every way. However, I find that I have had to revise my oppinion slightly, as I favor Dan Stevens' Edward to Hugh Grant's. I think his (DS') Edward more present and believable, and I suppose more real. Not that I had a problem with Grant's version before, it's just now that I have seen Stevens', I find his interpretation is better.
    /SHS

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    1. Hi SHS. I am really fond of both versions at this point. I hope we get a new version of each Austen novel at least every 10 years. Each generation has to have their own version right?

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  18. I love the 1995 version...just watched it again today for the umpteenth time and still teared up at the end and sighed "what a great movie". Beautiful!

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    1. Hi LilyGarden. I love the quote by Ang Lee. He wanted to "break people's hearts so badly that they'll still be recovering from it two months later"

      Well, it is coming up to 20 years and we are still reeling!

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  19. You really made me think...and now, I conclude that for me it's undecided! I really love them both...I like 1995 for beauty, and 2008 for depth. Just one thing...David Morrisey made me fall in love with on screen Colonel Brandon for the first time. Alan Rickman never did... ;-)

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    1. Hi LifeAsMom. I think it is Alan Rickman's voice that gets me more than anything. Especially in that scene near the end where he is reading a poem to Marianne in front of the cottage. Mmmm. However, I will pay extra attention to David Morrisey next time I watch the 2008 version. You have now made me want to see it again!

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    2. I just recently saw the 2008 version again and connected who David Morrisay was. He played the govener on The Walking dead. Lol. I can't see him the same light. I wanted so hard to like him but I just could not. then I watched him in the new season of The walking Dead I could not hate him.

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  20. 1995 is a masterpiece. The music fits perfectly, whereas 2008's music is too harsh. 1995 version reminds me of the music in "A Room With A View". The acting is just superior by everyone in 1995....they portray all the peculiarities of each character to perfection. I must have seen 1995 version at least 50 times. I prefer the High Grant Edward because he is soooo awkward and stiff mannered, LOL. Also 1995 Willoughby is perfectly cast....

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    1. And don't forget Alan Rickman. He has such a small part in the movie but made such a huge impression. He will always be Colonel Brandon to me.

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    2. Yes, I prefer Alan Rickman. I wish all the actors from 1995 were in the 2008 movie :-).

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  21. In my opinion 1995 is the better movie and I very much love it - but 2008 tells the Austen story better. The very core of this novel is the relationship between Marianne and Eleanor, of two sisters. In the 1995 version the age difference between the actors is obviously so big (ET is more than 15 years KWs senior) and Eleanor so much more mature than Marianne that they seem more like mother/daughter or rather aunt/nice than sisters. In the 2008 version they are two sisters - one more earnest, the other more emotional - but still both are on the same level. Having close sisters myself I love this about the new version.

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    1. Hello Anon! It is great that we have two wonderful choices for adaptations of this amazing book. Emma Thompson and Andrew Davies gave us their best in each case. Bravo!

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  22. I saw both versions again lately (hence the net search).

    Loved 1995 first time but couldn't really watch it again. Part of this is the persona of the actors, the big ticket names, especially if you think of Hugh Grant or Kate Winslet. Or even the Ang Lee method of film making, the Oscar bait kind of thing.

    Liked 2008 first time, liked it even more the second. And no doubt will watch it again.

    And came to the conclusion that film and TV are very different. Film requires the extra pretty actors, the stand out moments, the top notch actors. Its great spectacle.

    But TV allows you the leisure of trying to follow the book for the most part. The actors look good but not movie star good, the acting is solid but not the kind meant for repeated giffing on tumblr by fan girls! All this makes it seem far more real and involving - despite cottages by the sea! I find myself drawn in much more by lengthy TV versions. So yes 2008 for me.

    I think I look at them separately. I might go to watch the movie at the theatres but for repeated viewing I seem to prefer the TV versions of all Austen adaptations.

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    1. Hello Anon!

      What a thoughtful analysis of the two versions. Bravo! Now you make me want to see the 2008 version again, which I appreciate more every time I see it.The one thing that keeps taking me back to the 1995 version again and again is the music. Mmmmmm. OK, that and the gorgeous cinematography.
      LOL about the tumblr fan girls! :)

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    2. Thanks Jenny. The best repeat experience of course is reading the book :-)

      Tumblr fan girls can be quite hilarious!

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  23. Keeping the comparisons between TV and big screen aside, I believe one cannot deny the fact that the film version of Sense and Sensibility had great cast as well. Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman are theater actors and I really don't need to remark anything about their acting skills. However, coming back to the question, I'd say the 1995 version is much better than the 2008 in many aspects. I believe the 2008 series relied too much on "sexualizing" the novel in order to win the ratings race. Playing on the emotions of purists may be? Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon is unforgettable but this new one looked a bit "sissy." Greg Wise was a charmer as Willoughby but sadly Mr. Cooper lacked this main characteristic.

    Of course, the newer version depicted the story in a more meticulous manner given its longer duration but still it couldn't capture the soul of the novel like the 2 hour version did.

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    1. I agree completely about. Col. Brandon and Willoughby. 2008 Brandon was far too old (although the 95 one was as well, but 2008 Brandon it's also on The Walking Dead), and 2008 Willoughby was just...dorky looking.

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    2. Alan Rickman played lots of cruel and villainous characters, so if you don't see that as a barrier to enjoying his performance in the 1995 Sense and Sensibility, then why can't you also look past David Morrissey's other work to appreciate his performance in the 2008 S&S?

      I think that Dominic Cooper was attractive enough to play Willoughby--not "dorky-looking" at all. It would have been better if he had been a little taller, although the scenes he shares with the much taller David Morrissey are very visually effective in that they make his Willoughby look so immature, undeveloped, and insubstantial next to Brandon's obvious maturity, strength, and substance. Those scenes demonstrate the power of cinematic presentation, even when the material is deviating a little bit from its source.

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  24. Hmmm... I used to love the '95 version. I LOVED it and when I heard there was a new version I immediately dismissed it as "a bad remake of perfection". Because before it came out I couldn't see how ET's version could possibly be improved. But when I finally did get around to watching 2008 S&S I actually did like it better. I thought Hattie Morahan was outstanding as Elinor and so was Charity Wakefield in her role as Marianne. Not that I disliked either Kate Winslet or Emma Thompson in the first film. I love them both! But they seemed more age appropriate and sisterly in the 2008 version. Then we get to the men: I honestly didn't like either Willoughby much. 95's wasn't memorable and '08 looked and seemed too untrustworthy from the start. I had a hard time seeing him as dashing, even when you were supposed to think so. It's a draw for the colonel. I would say Alan Rickman--I love his acting--but he just seemed a tad old. The 08's Brandon wasn't all that memorable though. Edward Ferrars was hands down Dan Stevens for me. I didn't dislike 95's Edward at all...I just liked DS more in the role. I liked 2008 Margaret a lot but she wasn't that much like the book. She was basically dismissed by Austen as having (I'm paraphrasing here) "Marianne's romance without much of her sense and was not well headed now to equal her sisters at a more advanced age" or something like that. Mrs. Dashwood was equal for me. I liked the addition of Henry Dashwood, the other Miss Steele and Lady Middleton. Overall, I prefer the 2008 rendition but still love ET's movie.

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  25. While I've enjoyed the 1995 version, I always thought Emma Thompson was too old for the part of Elinor, and Hugh Grant, as someone said earlier, a bit too "stiff." And although I love Alan Rickman in other movies, I could not warm up to him as Col. Brandon. In addition, I also enjoy versions of Jane Austen's books that are true to the book's dialogue (A&E's version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth is my all time favorite). I have only just seen the first installment of the 2008 version and like it better already.

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  26. I have recently seen both versions again, and I have to say.....Emma Thompson is a genius, as is Ang Lee. The script was amazing, she did a marvelous job of compacting the novel into a film format. The scene in which she is begging Marianne to live was so moving.....also, Alan Rickman is one of my favourite actors, and Hugh Laurie was as inspired bit of casting as there ever was. But, (deep breath!) Andrew Davies did a brilliant job, and the biggest problem I had with the 1995 production was Hugh Grant - I'm just not a fan. I thought the 1995 version also sported the superior Willoughby and I loved Fanny and Mrs.What's-Her-Name mother in law....she was brilliant ("Does she like olives?). There are many many things I LOVED about the 1995 production, but in the end I have go agree with the 2008 camp. Preferred Hattie Moran, much preferred Edward, appreciated the more accurate story-line and not- cut-out characters (Lucy 's sister was absolutely comic gold) and both the Colonel and Edward were great. Marianne was also very well played, KW shoes were hard to fill, but she did it!! We really are very lucky to have two such brilliant versions, I loved the scenes in which Edward catches Elinor beating carpets in frustration, then in turn discoveries him chopping wood just as frustrated, absolutely brilliant.....

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  27. Huge Jane Austen fan here, wondering if any one knows what the name of the item, Mary Ann uses when she is drawing Willoughby? This item is some kind of frame on a stand, with tracing paper within the frame and wire that forms a grid, spread 2 or so inches apart across, up and down. She is drawing a silhouette. These devises must have had a name. I can't find them anywhere on the internet. A candle was used to cast his shadowed against the the paper. Any help would be appreciated. Sincerely and always a Jane Austen fan, Misty

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    1. Hi Misty! Thanks for the comment.

      I found a reference to a machine called a physiognotrace. The link is here: http://projectionsystems.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/physiognotrace/

      Hope it helps!

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    2. Thank you. I am going to have one of these silhouette frames made, just like Mary Ann. I am always looking at antique shops to bring the Dashwoods look into my home. I encourage all to do the same, it's great fun, Sincerely, Misty

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  28. Hi! I'm 14 years old and somehow I have always preferred the older, original versions of films or series like Sense and Sensibility (or Pride and Prejudice). I think it is mostly down to the actors and their pure brilliance though in S & S (and did you notice that 6 actors from the 1995 version were in the Harry Potter films!) I also have to put a word in for Alan Rickman because he is absolutely amazing in S & S and without him it just doesn't seem right ;)

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  29. Hi! I have only seen the newer version of S&S so I can't really comment on which is better, but I have to agree with anonymoun 14-year-old about Pride and Prejudice. The older version is way better.
    (Can't help but add that I'm also 14 =D)

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  30. Alan Rickman whispering "the air...is full of spices"
    Oh man. Gets me weak at the knees. Refuse to watch the later version because the original is genuis!

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  31. What I liked about the 1995 version:

    - Alan Rickman. I agree with all commenters about his brilliance in the Brandon role. The other guy in the 2008 version did not capture the role as well.

    - Hugh Laurie. He was the comic gold in this version. The other guy in the 2008 version was a disappointment. It seemed like he was just "standing in" for the part.

    - Mrs. Jennings. She was a perfectly played crazy, silly, prying busy body in the 1995 version, and just touched upon these qualities in the 2008 version.

    What I liked about the 2008 version:

    - Hattie Morahan as Elinor. Sorry to go against Emma Thompson fans, but every time I view the 2008 version, I feel uncomfortable watching her. I'm not sure if I just don't dig Emma Thompson in general, or if I didn't click with her in that role specifically. She seemed too old for the part, and I couldn't help but picture Nanny McPhee over and over. However, Hattie Morahan as Elinor was superb. I kept thinking after every line she delivered, "Perfect, just perfect!" The scene with Edward at the end: Emma Thompson's outburst is awkward, but Hattie Morahan's tears feel genuine, and drew me in to the lines that followed.

    - Dan Stevens as Edward. Hugh Grant did a great job of expressing the humility, reservation, and sweetness of that character, but Dan Stevens just added other qualities to it. Maybe it's because I loved him in Downton Abbey, but he played the part perfectly.

    - Mrs. Dashwood in the 2008 version is better than the 1995 version. The 1995 lady simply exudes a bleak and dreary attitude for the loss of her husband, but the 2008 lady expresses much more in her demeanor: a lady of high standing who has lost her estate, and is struggling to maintain high spirits, as well as her identity.

    Things that are equal in both versions:

    - The Mariannes. I am almost leaning toward Charity Wakefield just for overall performance, because she has a natural sweetness and innocence that is perfect for the character. But, Kate Winslet, I think, expresses the emotional, "sensibility" theme of the story. As with some of the Emma Thompson scenes that I felt were awkward in the 1995 version, some of the Kate Winslet scenes were also awkward, like where Willoughby was spinning her around and she was shrieking and giggling a bit too much. That may have been more of a directing flaw, rather than an acting flaw. So overall, the Marianne character is is a draw for me.

    - Both Margarets were well-played by both girls. However, the stuff about the atlas that created a theme in the 1995 version was really fun. I liked both of the actresses, though.

    - Both Willoughbys were well-done. The 2008 version has more character development because of added scene between Elinor and Willoughby, which also gave more resolution for Marianne, which I appreciated. However, the 1995 Willoughby was more dashing, as he should be, whereas the 2008 guy seemed a little pug-faced.

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    1. - Alan Rickman had a few bad/inappropriate scenes to work with (such as the purchase of the pianoforte--HORRIBLY wrong!, the paternalistic and condescending poetry-reading scene with Marianne, and the rather ungentlemanly use of the insult "blackguard" to refer to Willoughby), but David Morrissey had more, including the "What are your intentions towards Miss Marianne Dashwood?" scene, in which Brandon confronts Willoughby at Sir John's house; the scene in which Brandon begins to try to undress Marianne at Cleveland; and the scenes in which Brandon's trained falcon is compared--visually, through montage--to Marianne being "tamed." Morrissey did a very good job with the material he was handed, but because of the differences in the scripts, comparisons between the two actors are a little unfair, in my opinion. Morrissey's performance is more natural and likable--despite the material--than Rickman's, which is a bit stilted and theatrical.

      - Hugh Laurie is a good actor, but I don't like the way that the Palmers are portrayed in the 1995 film. The film makes light of their terrible marriage, depicting Mr. Palmer as a put-upon, "henpecked" husband whose grumpiness is *justified* because of how obnoxious, silly, and downright unappealing his wife is. The 1995 Mrs. Palmer is a misogynistic stereotype of a "shrill" woman. The sexism really grates on me. In the book and in the 2008 adaptation, Mrs. Palmer is silly, but young and pretty. Mr. Palmer is actually the one that we are *not* supposed to sympathize with, as he shallowly, thoughtlessly, and foolishly married Charlotte for her beauty and liveliness.

      - I have much the same commentary on Mrs. Jennings as I do on Mrs. Palmer. You rightly say that she is depicted as "crazy" in the 1995 film, but the Mrs. Jennings in the book isn't like that at all. She is gossipy and meddling, but also kind, compassionate, and reliable. She stays with Elinor at Cleveland and helps to nurse Marianne. Unfortunately, both the 1995 and 2008 adaptations omit these scenes of Mrs. Jennings helping Elinor at Cleveland, so the character's deep kindness is left undeveloped. But at least the 2008 version presents her as far less manic than the 1995 version.

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    2. - Yes, Hattie Morahan is great in the role of Elinor, and Emma Thompson was miscast. One of the many problems I have with Thompson's casting is that it basically dictated that almost all of the other actors (with the glaring exceptions of Kate Winslet and Emilie François) had to be around a decade too old--and sometimes even older. It was a mistake. I also don't care much for Thompson's performance. It would have been okay if it had been a completely different character, but it isn't faithful to Austen. It also reminds me too much of a harsher, stricter version of Thompson's own portrayal of Margaret Schlegel in Howards End.

      As you say, Morahan is just so much more natural and believable.

      - Similarly, Dan Stevens is more natural and likable than Hugh Grant in the role of Edward. My main quibble is that Stevens's Edward doesn't seem shy and retiring enough in many of his scenes, which causes one to wonder why he can't manage to stand up for himself more often. At least he *does* have a great scene where he finally defends himself and Lucy in front of his snobbish mother and sister, though. Hugh Grant had to do without such a dramatic scene; the 1995 film merely "tells" about it instead of showing it.

      - I like Janet McTeer's grace and dignity (and I suspect that this depiction, along with the 2008 version's more subdued Mrs. Jennings and Charlotte Palmer, was a deliberate reaction against the sexist "hysterical women" portrayals of the 1995 film), but I'm not sure that it's more faithful to Austen than Gemma Jones's "bleak and dreary attitude." In Chapter 1 of the book, Mrs. Dashwood is described as very nearly as bad as Marianne in indulging her sorrow:

      Elinor saw, with concern, the excess of her sister's sensibility; but by Mrs. Dashwood it was valued and cherished. They encouraged each other now in the violence of their affliction. The agony of grief which overpowered them at first, was voluntarily renewed, was sought for, was created again and again. They gave themselves up wholly to their sorrow, seeking increase of wretchedness in every reflection that could afford it, and resolved against ever admitting consolation in future. Elinor, too, was deeply afflicted; but still she could struggle, she could exert herself. She could consult with her brother, could receive her sister-in-law on her arrival, and treat her with proper attention; and could strive to rouse her mother to similar exertion, and encourage her to similar forbearance.

      However, given the fact that this passage says that Elinor "encourage[d] [Mrs. Dashwood] to similar forebearance," I agree that Jones could have shown higher spirits in several of her scenes. She isn't supposed to be sad *all* of the time.

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    3. - Charity Wakefield is definitely a sweeter, more innocent, and seemingly a *younger* Marianne than Kate Winslet (even though, yes, Winslet was actually younger when she played the role). I like Winslet pretty well, too, though. I agree that most of the flaws in her performance (like the ridiculous giggling--Marianne shouldn't be a giggler!) were probably Ang Lee's fault.

      - Technically, both of the Margarets in the adaptations are "wrong," because both of them are intellectually curious tomboys, whereas the character in the book is described as merely a silly girl--she is full of sensibility but not much sense. I suppose that the 2008 Margaret is better than the 1995 one because she is 13 years old, just like the Margaret in the book.

      I don't care very much for the made-up "atlas scenes" in the 1995 film. They're not bad in and of themselves, but they waste time that could have been spent on showing more scenes from the book.

      - Greg Wise is good enough in the role, but Dominic Cooper is by far the better actor. Granted, Cooper's performance is aided by the fact that the 2008 adaptation includes Willoughby's confession (of a sort) at Cleveland, but this Willoughby is also a nuanced character, showing charm and (false, as we later find out) softness in his early scenes with Wakefield's Marianne, utter slickness and deviousness in his brief scene with poor Eliza, smug viciousness and barely-repressed envy in his interactions with Brandon, and selfish desperation in his "confession" with Elinor. Greg Wise's performance isn't nearly as complex, and I doubt that he would have been able to pull off the "confession scene" as well as Cooper does.

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    4. "The scene with Edward at the end: Emma Thompson's outburst is awkward, but Hattie Morahan's tears feel genuine, and drew me in to the lines that followed."

      Thompson's outburst is awkward *and* sexist, I would say. In that scene in the 1995 adaptation, Elinor isn't allowed to retain her dignity (unlike in the book)--instead, she just sits and sobs while Edward gets to be dominant. The scene is even shot to emphasize Edward's dominance over her, as Hugh Grant is standing up and filmed from below, and Thompson is sitting down with the camera positioned above her. We later hear Margaret telling Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne that Edward is "kneeling down" to Elinor--but we never actually *see* this, because the filmmakers must have thought (incorrectly, in my opinion) that it would somehow be too undignified and unmasculine for Edward to assume such a "submissive" posture. I notice a similar framing in the poetry-reading scene with Brandon and Marianne; Alan Rickman's Brandon is always *above* Winslet's Marianne when they are in the frame together, and when they are framed separately, the camera is always a bit *below* his face and *above* hers. It manages to frame him as dominant over her, which really bothers me.

      By contrast, Hattie Morahan's Elinor and Dan Stevens's Edward are filmed at basically the same level. This Edward isn't dominant over this Elinor, and, in fact, Elinor is an equal participant in the reunion, kissing Edward joyously. She also is allowed her dignity in that *she* makes the choice to leave the room to indulge herself in tears.

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  32. I think ET's version captured the heart of the story so it really may be my favorite. The other version had a lot to like about it as well. Because of the longer length, there was just more time for add scenes from the book like having both Steele sisters. The best addition however was Dan Stevens. He really nailed Edward in a way that Hugh Grant couldn't manage.

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  33. I don't have a particular preference, but I did love Alan Rickman as Col. Brandon more than the latter. I think that small bit of awkwardness that he had was what really captured me. I prefer Dominic Cooper as Willoughby and Hattie Morahan as Elinor. I think, Hattie captured the Elinor that I had in mind when I read the book. I think both adaptations have captured respective bits that one didn't. I love watching both and can watch either at any time.

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  34. I prefer the Andrew Davies' version. Dan Stevens' portrayal of Mr. Edward Ferrars is much more dignified than that of the bumbling Hugh Grant. The age of the two sisters is more akin to that in the book. I dore the 2008 version.

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  35. no one seems to remember the 1981 BBC version with Irene Richard as Elinor. It was closer to the book and I thought very nice.

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    1. p.s. though my personal favorite is the '95 ET version

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  36. perfect I was just thinking it would be nice to find a comparaison of the 2 versions before watching the 2008 one and I found your post ! Perfect :) I love Rickman in the first version, I have to see what I think of the new cast.
    For P&P for example I love both the 1995 & 2005 versions, for different reasons...They both have qualities...

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  37. I like the 1981 version over both 1995 and 2008.

    Yup.

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  38. I prefer the 2008 version the actors were more age appropriate, i appreciated the addition of the original scenes of the book like the second Ms Steele and the duel. I cant remember if Willoughby's conversation w Elinor happened in the book, did it? But i loved the resolve it gave. Also loved the music, in short i thought it was better, more current and yet also more faithful to the book

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  39. Also Dan Stephens and Dominic Fuller were excellent as Edward and Willoughby as was the actor who played Colonel Brandon in the 2008 version

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  40. My wife and I are big fans of the 1995 version, too. I used to make fun of the reading scene at the end where Colonel Brandon says "I must away" every time before I left for work in the morning ;).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k84_QSQZ8I

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  41. The two actors portraying Col Brandon, played him in different lights. 1995 Col Brandon (my Alan Rickman) is my favorite. He draws with pure sweetness of nature and is humble,yet is not bitter by his past hurts. 2008 Col Brandon comes across as bitter and hurt, but the acting was great with his Col Brandon as well. My favorite remains the Alan Rickman, Col Brandon. Oh! to be so blessed in our day and time to meet a husband-to-be as Alan Rickman's Col Brandon, honorable, sweet of nature,loyal, pure-hearted and willing to let his past be in the past of hurt and misery.

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  42. Wanted to clarify about the 2008 Col Brandon, in his portrayal he found no good in Willoughby. Alan Rickman, in his portrayal, found some good in Willoughby. That is what I meant when I posted earlier that Alan Rickman portrays Col Brandon by not letting the past make him bitter and Alan Rickman brings that to the screen. 2008 Col Brandon has a lot of anger in his portrayal.

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    1. In my opinion, it makes very little sense in the 1995 film for Brandon to turn around and say that Willoughby had honorable intentions towards Marianne. Earlier in that *very same scene*, he calls Willoughby a "blackguard," which is something that the 2008 Brandon never does, no matter how angry he gets. I much prefer the way that Brandon's speech is handled in the 2008 adaptation, since I don't think that the character should resort to name-calling or insults.

      However, one of the several Brandon scenes in the 2008 version that I think *is* very inappropriate is his confrontation of Willoughby at the Barton party (i.e., the "What are your intentions towards Miss Marianne Dashwood?" part). Brandon is neither Marianne's fiancé nor her guardian, so it is not his place to ask this. It is also rude to interrogate a guest in that way at someone else's house.

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  43. In my humble opinion, Alan Rickman is my favorite Col Brandon. There have been statements that Alan Rickman and David Morrisey were both too old to play Col Brandon. I totally disagree, both men were excellent in bringing out different facets of the character. I would have LOVED and I do mean LOVED to have seen more interaction with Col Brandon and Marianne in the 1995 version similar to the 2008. Can anyone imagine Alan Rickman as Col Brandon catching Marianne as she faints at the ball when Willoughby has just shattered her heart or sitting with here quietly at her bedside and she reaches out and touches his hand? Deep sigh....we will never know the likes of Alan Rickman again and this heart sadly grieves nearly two months after his passing...

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  44. I saw the 1995 film in the theater and was completely captivated. When the 2008 version came to PBS I was set to dislike it even before I saw it. There could be no comparison with Emma as far as I was concerned. When the TV version ended I came to see Hattie Morahan edged out Emma as a more satisfying Elinor. I go back and forth. Simply, the actors are uncomfortably too old for the characters they portrayed in the earlier version after seeing the later one. But the artistic quality of the earlier is what makes it a true work of art in line with the art of the time. Will not say which version in best. Both are just different. That makes both great.

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  45. Hi Jenny I have just been watching 2008 for the second time and of course it is extremely well done but I think it is inferior to the to 1995 for the following reasons:
    * The chemistry between Elinor and Col Brandon is palpable - not with Marianne at all!
    *Col Brandon's love of Marianne seems to come from nowhere I'm afraid. It is so much easier to get on board with his infatuation of Kate Winslet's Marianne.
    *Casting of the Middletons particularly the sublime Elizabeth Spriggs
    *Col Brandon's failure to protect his ward who in the 2008 version is his full niece (his elder brother's daughter) is unforgivable.
    *2008 Edward comes across as incredibly spineless and leaves it far too long after Miss Steele has married his brother before visiting Elinor!!
    The only thing I must say as much as Greg Wise is delightful - Dominic Cooper IS Willoughby IMO so 2008 is superior on that count and also Hattie McMonahan as Elinor.

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    1. 1) I acknowledge that "chemistry" is one of the most subjective elements in a film, but I'm not sure why you didn't like the connection between Brandon and Marianne in the 2008 adaptation. Despite a number of egregious missteps in Andrew Davies' conception of Brandon -- including the extremely inappropriate confrontation with Willoughby at the Barton party ("What are your intentions towards Miss Marianne Dashwood?"), the attempt to undress Marianne after her ordeal in the rain, and the somewhat cringe-inducing horse- and falcon-training motif -- I actually believe that David Morrissey gave a remarkably good performance. It is certainly more natural and much less theatrical than Alan Rickman's in the 1995 film. That can only be a good thing.

      2) Charity Wakefield portrayed a Marianne who seems younger (even though Wakefield was older than Winslet was when she played the role), more innocent, and sweeter than Kate Winslet's. She plays the pianoforte very well, loves reading, and is very affectionate towards her sisters (something that CANNOT really be said of Kate Winslet's Marianne, who is far nastier around Elinor and Margaret). It isn't surprising at all that Morrissey's Brandon would find her attractive.

      3) Elizabeth Spriggs is good as Mrs. Jennings, but, unfortunately, Robert Hardy was far too old to play Sir John Middleton. And where is his wife and children? At least the 2008 version includes Lady Middleton and the rest of the family, and has an age-appropriate Sir John (after all, Sir John is supposed to be only about five years older than Brandon). I suspect that Robert Hardy was chosen for the part in 1995 in order to make Alan Rickman seem less old, but the age difference changes the characters' dynamic too drastically.

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    2. 4) And it would somehow be LESS of a problem for Brandon to fail to protect a ward who ISN'T his niece? Either way, Brandon has taken on the role of guardian to the young girl, so her exact relationship to him shouldn't matter from a moral standpoint -- she is still his responsibility. I do think that, even in the book, Brandon makes a terrible and unfortunate error in allowing young Eliza to go to Bath. Brandon acknowledges that he made a mistake, and blames himself, both in the book and in the 2008 adaptation.

      It is true that the 2008 Brandon doesn't explicitly say that the girl is illegitimate, but he DOES say that he heard of Eliza's (the *elder* Eliza's) divorce, and in Austen's day, divorces were granted for only a very small number of reasons. One of the grounds for divorce was infidelity on the part of the woman, so the implication in the 2008 adaptation is that Eliza was having an affair, and her husband divorced her. Morrissey's Brandon is simply too gentlemanly to state it outright. Why do you assume that 2008's Eliza II is Brandon's blood niece?

      By the way, the Eliza storyline is greatly altered in the 1995 film, with Eliza having been turned out of the house and forced into prostitution, apparently. Brandon is also made to be more culpable, given that -- unlike in the book -- Eliza was never married. In the book and the 2008 adaptation, it makes perfect sense that Brandon could not interfere with Eliza's marriage, but in the 1995 adaptation, there was NOTHING preventing Brandon from rescuing Eliza and keeping her from falling into ruin.

      5) Well, I agree that some things about the 2008 version's depiction of Edward rub me the wrong way. For example, he generally seems far less shy than the character in the book, so it almost seems out of character when he cannot manage to stand up to his mother and sister. I also don't understand why Elinor says to him (in the third episode), "You never deceived me." Yes, he DID deceive her, or at least he ATTEMPTED to, when he lied about the hair in his ring. I don't have a problem with the timing of his visit to Barton Cottage at the end, though.

      Dominic Cooper is a better Willoughby primarily because 1) he is a better and deeper actor than bland pretty-boy Greg Wise, and 2) he was given better material that actually acknowledges the character's villainy. I also agree that Hattie Morgan is a superior Elinor.

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  46. After reading the book and watching both adaptations I have come to conclusion that ...Jane Austen before her death had given exclusive rights to the BBC . Seriously though the one person really missing in the 1995 production is ...Andrew Davies ! Also Hattie Morahan's performance is absolutely exquisite, not to mention she looks at least 8 years younger than she was at the time , while Emma Thompson looks ...well, her age !

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  47. I much prefer the 2008 version, I always find Emma Thomson irritatingly smug so that probably colours my judgement somewhat. Ms Wakefield's version of Marianne was charming and the fact that in the main the 2008 version had lesser known actors makes one see the characters more than the Hollywood star. The only thing I prefer from 1995 is the sublime Alan Rickman who can do no wrong in my book...

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    1. I agree that Emma Thompson frequently comes across as smug. She is particularly smug in the role of Elinor, and if the 1995 film had done that deliberately, with the goal of puncturing the character's ego along the way, then it would at least have been internally consistent -- although very, VERY wrong in terms of fidelity. But, of course, the film doesn't do that, so, instead, this very self-righteous Elinor (who clearly has a martyr complex) is held up as the ideal to which poor Marianne should aspire! The other major reason why I dislike Thompson in the role is that her age (36 at the time of the film) essentially dictated that virtually every other actor (with the rather glaring exceptions of Kate Winslet and Emilie François) be at least a decade older than his or her character. Not an ideal situation, to say the least.

      Despite the fact that Alan Rickman was 15 years too old -- and LOOKED it, frankly -- I think he gave a fairly good performance, and I actually prefer most (but not all) of his material to some of the things that the 2008 script requires David Morrissey to do. It's absurd and inappropriate for Morrissey's Col. Brandon to confront Willoughby at the Barton party and demand to know his intentions towards Marianne, and to begin undressing Marianne after her fateful walk in the rain. The scene in which he comes into her sickroom (at her request, to be fair), sits on the bed, and puts his hand on her is strangely infantilizing of Marianne, I think, as is the scene in which Elinor compares Marianne to a wild horse who will be tamed by Brandon.

      That's not to say that the 1995 film DOESN'T infantilize Marianne, though. The scene in that film in which Marianne is recovering from her illness has the character behave in an appallingly clingy and childish manner, pleading for Brandon not to leave her. Alan Rickman's Col. Brandon acts much more like a father figure than a lover, in that he teases Marianne in a patronizing way and doesn't view her as an equal. And don't even get me started on the inappropriateness of the pianoforte gift! Yes, the writing for both Brandon and Marianne really falls apart in these sequences.

      Overall, I actually think that Morrissey's acting in the 2008 S&S is better and more natural (i.e., less theatrical) than Rickman's in the 1995 version. The material is unequal, however, which makes comparisons tricky.

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  48. My memory of the 1995 once was positive, but after watching both recently I can't get over how Emma Thompson is obviously my age and how much more appropriate the cast of 2008 is. The performances were also more nuanced and I preferred the music. After 2008 one, 1995 was painful to sit through.

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    1. The 1995 S&S soundtrack has been unfavorably compared to some of Patrick Doyle's earlier works, from which it HEAVILY "borrows" (i.e., it isn't particularly original):https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense_and_Sensibility_(soundtrack)#Release_and_reception. So I agree that the 2008 soundtrack is much better. I also agree about Emma Thompson, who was far too old and contrasted unpleasantly with the much younger Kate Winslet and Emilie François. I also don't like how most of the female characters in the 1995 film fit the misogynistic "hysterical woman" stereotype. Thompson's Elinor has a weird emotional outburst at the end of the film, but aside from that, the character seems deliberately written to be the "exceptional woman" among the irrational ones--another sexist trope. That said, she is just too snappish and has too much of a martyr complex for my liking. Hattie Morahan's performance is generally more likable and closer to the book.

      As I mentioned above, some of the writing for Col. Brandon bothers me in the 2008 version. Brandon should NOT be confronting Willoughby at the Barton party to demand what his intentions are (since he, Brandon, is neither Marianne's guardian, her relative, nor her fiance, it is none of his concern), nearly removing Marianne's clothing after carrying her inside, or sitting on her bed and putting his hand on her abdomen (to be fair, SHE asks to see HIM--but, realistically, this still would not have happened without damaging her reputation). The imagery of Brandon "taming" Marianne like he has trained his falcon, and Elinor's comment comparing him to a tamer of horses, are also wrong. Given the relative disadvantage David Morrissey was placed in as a result of these rather inappropriate scenes and lines, it is a testament to his great talent as an actor that he was able to make the character so likable, sympathetic, and naturalistic.

      Alan Rickman in the 1995 version had fewer inappropriate scenes, in my opinion (although he did have a few)--they are mainly limited to giving a piano to Marianne (this would definitely have damaged her reputation), making the rude and ungentlemanly remark that Willoughby is a "blackguard," and having a different backstory that makes him look rather worse and weaker than Jane Austen's Brandon. But, even though Rickman had fewer "bad" scenes to work with, he was far too old for the role and gave a fairly stiff and mannered performance that isn't as appealing as Morrissey's more natural one.

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    2. I forgot to mention Rickman's "poetry scene" with Winslet in the 1995 film, which had the effect of making Marianne look childlike and clingy--lying in a chair as Brandon looms over her in a paternalistic sort of way, and weakly pleading to him. He responds to her as though he is humoring a sweet but silly child. All in all, the scene perhaps isn't quite as bluntly condescending to Marianne as the "taming" scenes in the 2008 version, but it still doesn't give Marianne enough agency. And I stand by my assertion that Morrissey's more natural, likable performance helps to counter some of the more disturbing aspects of the writing in those S&S 2008 scenes. Morrissey managed better than Rickman, for sure. :)

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  49. I have to admit, in my opinion, BBC is unparalleled in their adaptations and I'd much rather watch a miniseries than a movie to get my Austen fix. My preference is the 2008 version, but I LOVED the scene where Fanny wigs out on Lucy Steele ("Snake in my bosom!"), as well as the performance rendered by Mrs Jennings, which I believe is necessary to convey to a modern audience just how indelicate she was. And of course the addition of Hugh Laurie was priceless!

    My two cents about casting choices:
    •08 Elinor and Marianne (I believe Austen specified M may have been emotional, but was not lively)
    •08 Willoughby and Brandon (although agree about inappropriate scenes)
    •08 Henry Dashwood (Mark Gatiss!)
    •95 Edward (Yes, Dan Stevens is adorable and I love him in this movie, but Edward is meant to be awkward. Why else would the charming Hugh Grant turn in such a constipated performance?)

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    1. I agree that the 2008 S&S is better. However, I think you're being too charitable to the particular elements in the 1995 film that you mention. The "viper in my bosom" scene is wildly over the top and inappropriate. Fanny Dashwood is a bad person, but even she would NEVER engage in a slap fight with Lucy Steele and pinch the girl's nose. I also strongly disagree that Mrs. Jennings needs to be as excessively obnoxious as she is portrayed in the 1995 film. Audiences are not stupid; if the other characters behave as they do in the novel (which they don't always in the 1995 movie--a problem with the adaptation), then it will be obvious to an audience that Mrs. Jennings is too forward and vulgar. Mrs. Jennings in the 2008 version is much closer to the book, simply because she doesn't come across as crazy. Both adaptations make the mistake of not showing Mrs. Jennings staying at Cleveland to help Elinor during Marianne's illness, but at least the 2008 Mrs. Jennings is kind in other ways.

      Hugh Laurie is far too prominent in the 1995 film. Mr. Palmer should be a very minor character, and not a likable one. In the book and the 2008 miniseries, Mr. Palmer married Charlotte for her beauty and liveliness, and is bitter and rude because he realizes that he is now stuck with a silly wife. He is horribly rude--and borderline emotionally abusive--to her and her mother. This bad behavior is glossed over in the 1995 film, in which Mr. Palmer's rudeness is implied to be justified because he is married to a stupid, obnoxious, and unattractive woman. The 1995 filmmakers wanted audiences to *laugh* at Mr. Palmer's verbal abuse (which is too toned-down, compared to the book) of his irritating wife. It's very misogynistic.

      I pretty much agree with your casting preferences, except for Hugh Grant. Dan Stevens is a much better actor. Also, why do you find a "constipated performance" worthy of *praise*? That seems like a contradiction.

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  50. John Dashwood is Fanny's husband, not Henry Dashwood. But Mark Gatiss is excellent, yes.

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  51. Most of the symbolism in the 2008 version is so much better and more appropriate than the stuff in the 1995 film. The seashells that Margaret strings up in the 2008 adadaptation--shells can symbolize love and friendship, even fertility. Those seem like appropriate themes for the Dashwoods. Strawberries symbolize honor and righteousness, so it's fitting that Colonel Brandon grows them so well at Delaford in the 2008 S&S. 2008's Willoughby can't grow his own, which symbolizes his utter lack of those positive qualities; the best that he can do is *take* strawberries that are not his--tiny and inferior ones, at that. It just goes to show who is the better man: obviously, Brandon.

    The symbolism in the 1995 movie is ill-conceived, in comparison. In that version, Brandon hands Marianne a knife. In every source on symbolism I have read, knives certainly are NOT positive. Brandon handing or giving Marianne a knife could suggest that he is bringing her bad luck, or that he is thoughtlessly severing their "relationship." The scene later on in the 1995 version, in which Brandon is handing bowling balls to Marianne while she plays a game with Margaret, is just bizarre. The balls also give the knife from the earlier scene an uncomfortably phallic meaning. Yuck.

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  52. David Morrissey was a better casting choice than Alan Rickman for a variety of reasons, but one of them that deserves greater attention is his height. The symbolic meaning of height in Austen's works is beautifully elaborated on in this excellent article: http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol20no1/graham.html. Jane Austen, in her novels, consistently uses characters' relative heights as indicators of their moral stature and personality. Brandon should be tall because his height reflects his moral uprightness. (Edward Ferrars is only of average height in the book, but, as the article points out, he isn't *short*, and he is meant to be something of an exception, anyway.)

    In the 1995 version, Alan Rickman isn't even close to being the tallest man in the main cast: Greg Wise, James Fleet, and Hugh Laurie are all taller. But in the 2008 version, David Morrissey appears to be comfortably taller than any other man in the main cast; his Colonel Brandon is the strong, morally upright constant in the life of Charity Wakefield's Marianne. She simply has to learn to see what is already obvious to the audience watching the adaptation.

    Dominic Cooper's smaller stature as Willoughby may not be a perfect fit for certain audiences' expectations of an ideal "romantic hero," but it works perfectly to highlight the difference between Marianne's initial perception of Willoughby as the "ideal romantic hero," and the reality, which is, of course, that Willoughby is a small (in both physical and moral stature), petty, unreliable man.

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