Sense and Sensibility follows the story of two sisters: sensible Elinor Dashwood (Hattie Morahan) and passionate Marianne Dashwood (Charity Wakefield). When their father Mr. Henry Dashwood dies, his property, Norland, is passed to his son from his first marriage, John Dashwood. Before he died, Henry Dashwood made John promise to take care of his current wife and three daughters (Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret). John promises to take care of them and wants to give them some money, but he is persuaded by his wife, Fanny, not to. Meanwhile, the Dashwood women prepare to receive John and Fanny, and when they arrive, Fanny announces that her brother Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens) will be joining them. Edward arrives and him and Elinor form an attachment, which is broken off by Fanny.
There are a few actors and actresses that you might recognize. Linda Bassett, who was Mrs. Jennings, was on Lark Rise to Candleford, Dan Stevens (Edward Ferrars) is on Downton Abbey, and Hattie Morahan was on one episode of Lark Rise to Candleford.
A lot of the characters that were left out of the 1995 movie were included in this miniseries. We get to see Lady Middleton (she was dead in the 1995 movie), the Middleton children (there were no children in the movie), Harry Dashwood (John and Fanny's son who wasn't in the movie at all), Anne Steele (who wasn't in the movie), and Mrs. Ferrars (who was only mentioned in the movie). There were also scenes that were included in this version that were left out of the 1995 movie: Willoughby's confession scene, the dinner with Mrs. Ferrars, among others.
|Anne and Lucy Steele talking with Elinor.|
Margaret Dashwood's character, I could nearly swear, was taken from the 1995 movie. In the movie, she was hiding under a table in the library and was prone to be a little shy. Here, they have her hiding under the bed, hiding up trees, and (in a similar scene) she was crouched down behind a table in the library at Norland and from the screen view almost looks like she was hiding. Also, like in the movie, they show the friendship between her and Edward, something that was not in the book. I am glad that they made Margaret thirteen instead of a few years younger like in the movie.
John Willoughby, Marianne Dashwood, and Elinor Dashwood.
I thought that the actor who was Willoughby was too creepy for his role. I know he isn't a good character, but the Dashwood women were supposed to notice how handsome, charming, and unthreatening he was. Here, it seemed that anyone would be creeped out by him and you couldn't trust him just by looking at him. *shudders*
The scenery was a little dark for an Austen adaptation. I know Sense and Sensibility isn't as lighthearted as Pride and Prejudice or Emma, but I didn't think that it was very dark, just serious. The colors were also a little washed-out and dull for my taste; it seemed like many days were cloudy for the Dashwoods. The scenery would have been much better if there was more color present.
There were a couple of invented scenes. Like the 1995 movie, invented was the scene in which Marianne goes out for a walk in the rain at Cleveland, gets sick, and needs Colonel Brandon to bring her back. There were also scenes added to develop Edward's friendship with Margaret.
I also want to include a small note: I did not watch the first scene of this miniseries. A while ago, I saw what it was and turned it off. It was a bit of a mature scene (which I thought was out of place since Jane Austen didn't go into detail about that part). But when I heard that it was the only mature scene throughout the whole miniseries, I gave it a second chance. I can assure you that throughout the rest of the miniseries there weren't any more mature scenes.
I did like the costuming, although I found the dresses to have a rather low waistline for the Regency era. The costuming seemed to go back and forth between Regency era gown to Gregorian gowns, which for some characters I found a little confusing, namely for Mrs. Ferrars. Mrs. Ferrars is rich and in London, in the middle of the English fashion world: why, then, was she wearing out-of-date fashions for a dinner party? I would imagine her character buying the latest fashions, not using old gowns. I noticed that Mrs. Jennings occasionally would wear older gowns, but she also had Regency gowns.
Elinor and Marianne both dressed nicely. I liked Elinor's dark purple over robe that she wears on the cover; it has a similar build to the over robes in the 1995 movie. Marianne tended to dress in bright, colorful gowns while Elinor's tended to be more sedate (showing their contrasting personalities).
The music was okay, but it was mostly serious. Most of the songs had a sad overtone and were a little slow moving. There was one piece of music, however, that I thought didn't fit in with the time period. In the scene where Colonel Brandon goes out to look for Marianne at Cleveland, there was kind of an odd beginning to the piece, almost as if it came out of an 80's action movie. It seemed a little out of place, but it was a small issue.
I'm still partial to the 1995 movie (in fact, I probably like that one a little bit more). For the 1995 version, even though characters and scenes were left out, I thought that the overall gist of Sense and Sensibility was capture (overtones, character personalities, etc.). Here, it stays closer to the book as far as scenes and including characters goes, but I thought it was a little darker than what Sense and Sensibility was written to be. But I did enjoy watching this miniseries. I wouldn't be sorry to watch it again!
Sense and Sensibility is available on DVD either on it's own or can be purchased in a collection along with Persuasion (2007). It runs for 180 minutes and it is divided into three episodes.