The 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility is one of my all-time favorite movies. It ranks as my favorite Austen adaptation and as overall one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I’ve watched it numerous times and I love it every single time. I watched it again a couple of weeks ago for my fourth item for the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge.
As the movie started, I realized once again that the opening of the movie is so clever. After the death of Mr. Dashwood, I love Fanny and John’s back and forth about giving money to the Dashwood sisters. Fanny’s overbearing strength of character is apparent as she is able to whittle John’s resolve to help his half-sisters down to nothing. The scene is not only funny, but really gives the dynamic of Fanny and John’s marriage and overall characters.
The perfect little moments that appear in the movie that are not in the novel sometimes completely capture the nature of the characters without a word. One of my favorite such moments is after Willoughby leaves the Dashwoods abruptly and Marianne runs up to her room crying. All of the ladies end up in their rooms crying, while Elinor calmly sips Marianne’s tea. It is telling of Elinor’s calm during a crisis and a build-up for what will finally make her break down at the end of the movie.
While the 1995 movie had to cut out some minor characters to preserve time, the minor characters they did keep were written to perfection. Two of my favorite minor characters are Hugh Laurie as Mr. Palmer and Imelda Staunton as Charlotte Palmer. They are hilarious and make me laugh out loud as several scenes.
I think overall there are many things that come together perfectly that make this one of my favorite movies of all time. First of all, the wonderful story by Jane Austen and the perfect screenplay adaptation (that won an Oscar!) by Emma Thompson. Thompsons’ screenplay was able to perfectly keep the key story, wit and themes of Austen’s novel (I’m reading the screenplay and diaries right now and will have a review of that in a couple of weeks). Secondly, the wonderful performances by many actors also make the movie. My three favorite are Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood, Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood, and Greg Wise as Willoughby. Greg Wise is the perfect Willoughby, handsome, dashing, and it completely takes you by surprise when you discover what a rake his is. The third element that makes this a perfect movie is actually a compellation of moments – the music, cinematography, and direction make this a beautiful movie.
If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it for all lovers of film. If you have seen the movie, what do you love or dislike about it? I’ll admit that Hugh Grant as Edward always looks a bit funny to me in his period outfit (looks constipated) and that I always am a bit creeped out by Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon (I always imagine him saying, “ I’m going to carve your heart out with a spoon” from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves).
For my previous review of Sense and Sensibility 1995, check out this link.