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Sense and Sensibility - Film Review

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by Chrystal Byrne (subscribe)
Freelance writer living on Brisbane's north side. Studied creative industries - currently studying library and information services.
Published August 7th 2013
Lose your heart and come to your senses
Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are as different as two sisters can be. Elinor, the eldest, is sensible and proper, always with a keen sense of responsibility to her family and friends, she places their welfare and interests above her own and suppresses her own strong emotions – to the dismay and bewilderment of the next Dashwood sister, Marianne. Marianne, the middle daughter, is lively, outgoing and frank, always judging her own opinions to be above those of others, she strives to live her own happy life to the full, displaying and entrusting in her own exuberant emotions – to the disappointment and humiliation of her elder sister.

Sense and Sensibility
Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet as Elinor and Marianne Dashwood in the 1995 Hollywood film, Sense and Sensibility.

Elinor, Marianne and Margaret Dashwood are the daughters of Mr and Mrs Henry Dashwood. When their father dies his estate, Norland Park, passes directly to his only son John, the child of his first wife. Mrs Dashwood, his second wife, is left only a small income on which to raise the three Dashwood girls, and must find another dwelling at once. The family move to Barton Cottage, near the home of Mrs Dashwood's esteemed cousin, Sir John Middleton. Although the cottage lacks many of the conveniences that they have been used to, Mrs Dashwood and her girls settle in nicely, welcomed with open arms by the Middleton family and their surrounding friends.

But with the move, Elinor is separated from the young man to whom her heart is attached, and Marianne falls into the path of young love herself. Elinor, acting with characteristic lady-like propriety, stills her anxiety, hides her frantic feelings away and composes her outward self. Marianne, on the other hand, throws herself heart-first into her whirlwind love adventure, parading her affections, desires and intentions far too soon to be considered appropriate or respectable.

Before the end of the story, both sisters experience love, romance and heartbreak, and must decide whether sense or sensibility in life will preside.

Sense and Sensibility
Sense and Sensibility (1811) by Jane Austen.

Sense and Sensibility (1995) is a British-American period drama film directed by Ang Lee, who directed both the well-known Brokeback Mountain (2005) and celebrated Life of Pi (2012) films. The film is based on the renowned Jane Austen novel of the same name, Sense and Sensibility, published in 1811. The film's script, based on the enduring Austen novel, was written by actress Emma Thompson (Nanny McPhee), who also stars as the eldest Dashwood sister, Elinor. A young Kate Winslet (Titanic) features as Miss Marianne Dashwood, Hugh Grant (Notting Hill) charms as Edward Ferrars, Alan Rickman (Harry Potter series) plays Colonel Christopher Brandon and Greg Wise perfects the role of the notorious Mr John Willoughby.

Sense and Sensibility
My personal copy of the film Sense and Sensibility (1995).

The novel, Sense and Sensibility, was published in 1811; Jane Austen's first published piece. The novel was originally published under the pseudonym "A Lady", and was going to be simply titled, Elinor and Marianne, until Austen changed the name. Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813) are arguably Jane Austen's most famed and accomplished novels, and have seen a number of film, television and stage adaptations.

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist who earned her name in English literature through her works of romantic fiction, set amongst the landed gentry. Austen's works display realism and social commentary that have cemented her historical importance among scholars and critics – her works are 'classics'. Austen was part of a large family; she had six brothers and one sister; and lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. Both Jane and her sister Cassandra were thoroughly educated by their father and brothers and died unmarried.

Sense and Sensibility
My personal copy of the novel Sense and Sensibility (1811).

I enjoy classic novels, especially the works of Jane Austen. I revel in reading the timeless novels then going out, finding a film or television adaptation to watch, marking any discrepancies between the handiworks, and finally passing my judgement. I have to say that I really liked Sense and Sensibility (1995). The film followed the novel as closely as possible in everything from the storyline to the characters – their traits, manner, associations. For me, the standout performance was Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood. The youthful naivety, unreserved gaiety and animated affection emanated from everything Winslet did.

At the 49th British Academy Film Awards, Kate Winslet won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. Leading actress and scriptwriter Emma Thompson took home Best Actress at the 49th British Academy Film Awards for her portrayal of Elinor Dashwood and received the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 68th Academy Awards. The film has also collected a multitude of other awards, nominations and honours.

So if you're like me and enjoy classic novels, or if you like watching film adaptations, or even if you're just keen to view a great film, check out Sense and Sensibility (1995) – you won't be disappointed.

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Why? Because you want to watch a film adaptation of Jane Austen's renowned novel, Sense and Sensibility.
When: Any time.
Where: In the comfort of your own home.
Cost: The cost to rent/buy the DVD.
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