Archive | May, 2010

The Way We Live Now Miniseries

31 May

Well, I finished watching the 2001 miniseries, written by Andrew Davies. A lot was altered from the book and since I wasn’t the biggest fan of the book, you’d think I would love it, right? Wrong! I know Andrew Davies is famous for sexing up all his adaptations but this was ridiculous, even for him.

I will admit, most of the actors were good with what they were given. The problem is, often I didn’t like what they were given! Sir Felix as played by the lovely Matthew MacFadyen was portrayed as much more sympathetic as in the book and really isn’t punished in the end. I think Davies was a little fond of the character, actually. His sister Hetta is unrecognizable from the book, being outspoken and free-spirited in the beginning- always giving her mother and brother a piece of her mind. I did find Hetta pretty boring for most of the book because she doesn’t do much but it didn’t really have any impact when she went against her family to be with Paul, since she was always so openly against them from the start!

Mrs. Hurtle as played by Miranda Otto was horrible. The pitiful excuse for a Southern accent was grating to my ears. I found her character one of the most interesting in the book and still sympathetic, but not so in the mini. As for Paul Montague, they tried to make him a stronger character but I really didn’t buy it from pretty boy Cillian Murphy. What were they thinking putting such an effeminate looking man in that part?

I did like the casting of Lady Carbury, Roger Carbury, and Mr. Melmotte. The latter was very close to how I imagined him in the book. Shirley Henderson as her daughter, Marie, however, was just…bizarre, for lack of a better word.

So yeah, I was really not happy with this adaptation. But soon I’m going to be rewatching all my Pride and Prejudice DVDs! I’ve already finished the 1940 version and may write up on it tonight depending on how much time I have when I get home. The two miniseries will probably take longer, especially since it’s back to work this week.

Hope everyone had a good Memorial Day!

My Rating: 5/10

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The Way We Live Now (Book)

31 May

This is the third Trollope book I have read. I thought the description sounded really interesting and I’d heard so many good things about it. But in the end, I was disappointed.  It was like a cross between Charles Dickens and George Eliot for me, and you know how I feel about those authors. For one thing, the book was way too long. There were some parts of it and characters that I liked (Roger Carbury and Mrs. Hurtle) but even storylines I was into in the beginning felt draggy to me towards the end.

I found both Paul Montague and Hetta Carbury to be rather insipid and weak. I came to like Hetta a little more by the end as she was able to stand up for herself a little, but I never understood what she saw in Paul. And what did Mrs. Hurtle see in him either? I found her backstory fascinating and wanted to know more about her. I would definitely have chosen Roger Carbury if I were Hetta.

I’ve watched the first episode of the Andrew Davies miniseries and I’m not liking it very much at all. I do think I would like a good filmed version of the story just as I like most Dickens and Eliot adaptations but this is just missing the point. It’s WAY too sexed up. I know it’s Andrew Davies, but come on! It’s beyond ridiculous.

My Rating:  6/10

Pride and Prejudice Book Review- Unpopular opinion?

30 May

This is not really a formal review, just some of my thoughts.

I like Pride and Prejudice. I really do. It’s one of my favorite novels. But, I must confess, it’s not my favorite Jane Austen novel. I like both Persuasion and Emma better and Sense and Sensibility is very, very close.

I first read the book when I was 14 and I absolutely loved Elizabeth Bennet and her sharp wit. I really liked Darcy too, but everyone paled in comparison to Elizabeth. I thought the story was incredibly romantic. I even thought Mr. Bennet was a doll. I saw the 1995 version very shortly after I finished the book and my opinions were less than favorable. But that’s a review for another day.

My opinion has changed over the years and frequent rereads. I saw what a bad father and husband Mr. Bennet really was. I still like Elizabeth and Darcy, but mostly because they are dynamic characters who mature and grow to become a worthy couple. I find Elizabeth quite immature and a bit too sure of herself in the beginning and Darcy to be on the controlling side. They are both proud and both prejudiced in the beginning but I do like that they learn from their mistakes and change.

The book is a delightful comedy of manners. But I more highly admire Elinor Dashwood, Anne Elliot, and even Fanny Price than Elizabeth Bennet. And I’d take Frederick Wentworth, Henry Tilney, Mr. Knightley, or Colonel Brandon over Darcy. Although the 10,000 a year does work in his favor…

My Rating: 10/10

Sense and Sensibility 2008 Review

28 May

I love being out of school! I stayed up until 3 last night rewatching this miniseries. I thought I would be reading more on my break but instead I’ve been watching more movies.

Although S&S 2008 is now my favorite version of Sense and Sensibility, my thoughts were very different upon my first viewing! I saw it as it was airing in the UK on a poor quality streaming video, only able to watch bits at a time between classes. I just couldn’t wait for it to air here in the US. I was so disappointed and thought it was too dark and copied too much from the 1995 version, which I liked but was not entirely satisfied with (read my review to see why). It wasn’t until I got the DVD this past Christmas that I noticed everything that made me like it. It was dark, yes, but it was only the bad quality of the stream that made it hard to see! I watched a behind-the-scenes video that they hadn’t intended to make everything “dark and stormy” but there was bad weather all the time during filming and they decided to go with that look! As for the copying from the 1995 version, yes, there were some parts from it, not in the book, that Andrew Davies also included in this, and while I could definitely do without them, they don’t stop me from enjoying the show! On my rewatch I noticed so many other things that made me love it!

The Characters

The main thing that I love about this movie is its wonderful (with a couple exceptions), more age-appropriate cast. This version really excelled in its portrayal of the relationship between Elinor and Marianne, which is really the main focus of the book. In all the previous versions, one of the sisters always left me cold. This is the only one in which I like BOTH actresses!

Hattie Morahan as Elinor Dashwood

My favorite Elinor. She was actually about 28 when filming but passes for a lot younger, thankfully. I remember thinking she was almost ugly when watching it on that awful streaming site. What was wrong with me? She beautifully portrays Elinor as level-headed, sensible, and rational without being cold. You sense her love for her family in all her scenes and you can tell she is doing her best to keep her own emotions in check. I love the scene where Marianne is sobbing over Willoughby and claims Elinor doesn’t understand her sufferings and Elinor chugs Marianne’s wine in one gulp (from the book!). Her performance moved me to tears in a few scenes- opening her heart to Marianne about how she’s known about Lucy and Edward’s engagement and suffered quietly,  the scene after Marianne recovers from her fever, and the ending proposal.

Charity Wakefield as Marianne Dashwood

Not my favorite Marianne (that’s actually Tracey Childs, believe it or not) but she was good nonetheless and complemented Elinor well. I liked how much affection she had for her sister and after she learned of Edward and Lucy’s engagement she was ashamed of herself and comforted Elinor instead of berating her for having no heart. Her falling for Colonel Brandon was more believable than in some other versions because she thought favorably of him at first, until she learned he thought of her romantically! And Brandon is given a lot of scenes to show just how great a guy he is. I did not like how Andrew Davies alluded to her maturation as the taming of a wild animal, however. And I wish we could have heard her sing.

Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars

Andrew Davies beefed up the men in this deliberately and that’s very apparent with Edward. He’s cheerier and a little more outgoing, especially in the beginning. That’s not really true to the book Edward but I’m not all that crazy about the book Edward so it’s fine with me! I liked seeing him finally stand up to his mother- unfortunately it was to declare that he would defy her wishes and stand by Lucy, but hey, it was the honorable thing for him to do, after all.

David Morrissey as Colonel Brandon

My favorite Colonel Brandon!  He looked mature enough that you could understand why Marianne would think he was too old for her, but was also most certainly not an old man. You see him and Marianne fall in love and it felt natural. Plus, he was muy sexay in several scenes that showed his physical strength and vigor.

Dominic Cooper as John Willoughby

The biggest casting mistake, IMO! Just look at him! He’s not handsome enough and he’s so obviously sinister and menacing-looking it’s a wonder the Dashwoods were fooled by him! Yes, Willoughby is sinister and menacing, but he’s not supposed to LOOK sinister and menacing! It was so obvious he was evil from the beginning that I doubt anyone who hasn’t read the book would be surprised at learning his true character. His characterization was all over the place too. They made him so obviously evil and yet in his apology scene at Cleveland he actually seemed sincere and he actually really loved Marianne! Right…Oh well, I’m happy they at least included the Cleveland scene.

Lucy Boynton as Margaret Dashwood

Isn’t she cute? Her role was expanded a little in this version as well. I didn’t mind it, except for its unoriginality.

Janet McTeer as Mrs. Dashwood

A good mother who really loved her children, yet you could see she still needed guidance from Elinor. I like that she’s close to the character’s age in the book (only 40).

Mark Williams as Sir John Middleton

Mr. Weasley! He was a more restrained Sir John Middleton. Still vulgar enough that you would be embarrassed by him too if you were Marianne, but he’s more believable as a close friend of Colonel Brandon’s. And I love the powdered wig he still wore in formal settings, showing he was behind in the latest fashions.

Linda Bassett as Mrs. Jennings

She was alright, but probably my least favorite Mrs. Jennings. She wasn’t BAD, she just wasn’t given much to do. Like Sir John, her performance is also more low-key than in other versions. While this was a good choice for Sir John, it made Mrs. Jennings almost boring to me. I prefer her to be a little over the top. And she didn’t stay to nurse Marianne at Cleveland either, which was a big disappointment.

Anna Madely as Lucy Steele

Underwhelming. She was okay, but not conniving or sly enough. The way she played the role made her seem almost sincere in all her talks with Elinor, to the point where I was on the verge of feeling bad for her rather than hating her. You do get hints of her real character, but they were not enough for me, unfortunately.

Daisy Haggard as Anne Steele

Delightful! She was really played up for comic effect and was hilarious. Her heavy accent added to her vulgarity, in contrast with Lucy who kept hers a bit more polished. I also liked their similar hairstyles and thought they really looked like sisters.

Jean Marsh as Mrs. Ferrars

She was so scary it was no wonder Edward was intimidated by her. I liked the touch of her eating nuts covered in gold leaf.

Claire Skinner as Fanny Dashwood

I wanted to slap her, which means she was doing something right. It’s implied in the beginning she uses her prowess in the bedroom to control her husband! She spoils her brat, Henry to borderline child obesity and thinks he’s such a fine boy. (Aunt Petunia from Harry Potter?). The hair people seem to have copied the 1995 Fanny’s style of tiny curled bangs clinging to her forehead, though you can’t see from this picture.

Mark Gatiss as John Dashwood

A doofus. He almost cares a little about his half-sisters, but it’s not enough to actually help them.

Morgan Overton as Harry Dashwood

The first time we see little Harry on screen! He is only mentioned in the first two versions and 1995 cuts him out completely. He spends all his scenes mutely munching on cheesy poofs or playing with his toys as his mother gazes at him fondly. He unfortunately witnesses his family’s selfishness and greed throughout the movie and I really pity him that he’ll turn into a fat version of his papa or uncle Robert.

Other Characters

Lady Middleton, the Palmers, and Robert Ferrars are all included but don’t do much. Lady Middleton is funny just by not doing anything and she kind of resembles Morticia Addams. I think Mr. Palmer only has one line but they were okay. Robert was good but I really just want to see the toothpick case scene! This is also the only version in which we get to see Eliza and her baby onscreen, which I liked. It further showed how Willoughby was a scumbag seeing how young, innocent and naive she was (she thought he would come back if he saw the baby).

Eliza and her baby

What I Liked

The music is really nice and the costumes are vivid and colorful, which helps balance out the sometimes dreary backgrounds. Some of my favorite scenes include:

“Colonel Brandon, give me a living?

My favorite version of this scene on film. They’re standing so far away from each other and it is so full of repressed emotion. It was funny to hear in the commentary that the extreme close-up profile shots were to hide Dan Stevens’ neck, which was swelling due to tonsillitis. I think it came out really well.

The Duel Scene

The duel (over Willoughby impregnating and leaving Eliza)  is from the book, but Colonel Brandon only mentions it to Elinor. I loved seeing it in action! It was probably fought with pistols originally but it wouldn’t have been exciting just to see them shoot and miss.

The final scenes which show the two sisters post-marriage and happy never fail to put a smile on my face, mirroring Elinor’s in the very last shot. Elinor and Edward are perfectly satisfied chasing the chickens at their small home and the Colonel easily carries his bride across the threshold, unlike Willoughby who struggled to carry her when she sprained her ankle at their first meeting.

What I Didn’t Like

Scenes copied from 1995 version

I wasn’t crazy about a lot of the stuff lifted from 1995- Margaret hiding at Norland, Edward playing with Margaret, and most of all, Colonel Brandon rescuing Marianne from the rain at Cleveland. At least Andrew Davies did not have her go look at Combe Magna (walking 30 miles like that would probably make me sick too) but this was such an obvious rip-off that it was pretty annoying. He claimed he watched the 1995 version to make sure there was nothing from there and not from the book that he included in his script, but he didn’t do a very good job!

Margaret Hiding

The Evil Rain!

Sexed Up Scenes

Oh, Andrew Davies. He can never seem to resist adding a few sexed up shots in all his adaptations. Even if they are completely gratuitous (and they usually, if not always, are) or just plain wrong. In this version, he starts with an unseen Willoughby seducing Eliza. Thankfully I was warned about this so I didn’t press stop immediately, but it was still pretty irritating. It’s just so useless! You can’t tell who the characters are anyway and it does nothing but create confusion for anyone who hadn’t heard about it beforehand. And then there’s the usual “sexy shot of male lead” character, Edward chopping logs in the rain, witnessed by Elinor. Right. I’m sure Edward chops wood all the time. I don’t mind this scene as much as the P&P 95 pond scene (sorry, but that pond water was disgusting) because it sort of showed Edward’s frustration, but really? Must AD constantly insert these “wet shirt” scenes into everything he writes?

Eliza Watching Willoughby Ride Away

Manly Man Edward

Final Thoughts

I’m interested in hearing what other people think. Agree? Disagree? Best? Worst? In between? This is one of my top 5 Austen adaptations, but it doesn’t bother me if other people don’t like it too. It does bother me to see someone bash the PEOPLE who like a certain adaptation, but not the adaptation itself. It keeps things interesting.

My Rating: 9/10

Sense and Sensibility 1995 Review

26 May

I’m really on a roll here! I’m still pretty busy during the day but I’ve been having trouble sleeping at night lately so to fill up that time, I’ve been on a Sense and Sensibility kick. The latest one I watched and took screencaps of is the 1995 theatrical version.

From what I’ve gathered, this is one of the most popular out of all Jane Austen adaptations, right up there with P&P95. And yet, while I do think it’s a good movie, it’s not my favorite S&S, for reasons I will go into in this review. I have several problems with it, including much of the casting and some of the writing as well. Really my feelings towards this and P&P95 are quite similar, but at least this movie doesn’t have any of the “sexed up” content Andrew Davies put in P&P. Why do I have so many problems with both of these versions? Is it just because I think they’re overrated and I have a tendency to root for the underdog blindly? Well, no. But that is admittedly a small part of it. Rather, I already found flaws in each adaptation but these were magnified after constantly hearing people say how “perfect” they are. I’m really not trying to offend any fans of this movie. I AM a fan of this movie, own it on DVD, and have watched it multiple times. I just think it’s not as good as many fans seem to think it is. And any time I hear “definitive” about any adaptation (even my absolute favorites), it drives me up the wall!

The Casting

The casting is my biggest problem with this movie. Most of the actors are frankly, way too old for their roles. Okay, maybe if EVERY character were aged up it would make sense. But they’re not and that just adds to the problem. Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman are all MUCH older than their characters, yet Kate Winslet is nearly the same age as the book’s Marianne. Read on for more detailed opinions on the individual characters.

Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood

Ang Lee, the director, really wanted Thompson to play the role of Elinor. She herself felt she was too old (at 36, she was closer in age to the 40 year old Mrs. Dashwood than 19 year old Elinor) but she agreed and ended up aging the character up (John Dashwood refers to her as a spinster). At least they didn’t try to pretend she was 19, yet I feel she was more motherly to Marianne than anything. I didn’t feel the closeness between them. This version also makes it seem that her character’s “sense” is really only due to her age over Marianne’s youth. The scene where she confesses to Marianne that she knew of Edward’s engagement to Lucy was all wrong. Marianne, instead of comforting her sister, chides her of having no heart. Elinor, in return, snaps back at Marianne and makes her cry, then ends up comforting her, instead of vice-versa as in the book.What was Emma Thompson thinking when she wrote that?

Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood

One of the high points in the cast. Was the right age for the character and played the character’s sensibilities without being too annoying. Her illness is played up even more so than the book, and I do admit I like the scene of her seeing Willoughby’s house in the rain, even though it’s not in the book (Combe Magna is 30 miles away from Cleveland!). One thing that bothered me about her was her eyebrows. I like how they gave all the Dashwood girls red hair, but her dark brows really were distracting and made it look fake.

Emilie Francois as Margaret Dashwood

Gasp, it’s Margaret! Whereas the previous two adaptations pretended Margaret didn’t exist, Emma Thompson does a total 180 and makes her a much more prominent character than in the book, where she really only serves to show how Elinor is outnumbered at home where everyone is full of sensibility. Other than that, she doesn’t do much. In the movie, she’s younger and more outspoken. She acts in place of the audience, questioning the social conventions of the time. I did like the added oomph to her character but I would have preferred to see scenes that were cut from the book instead (coughWilloughbyatClevelandcough).

Gemma Jones as Mrs. Dashwood

I liked that they showed hints of her sensibilities but she seemed so frail to me, which is not how I pictured her. It’s a minor quibble and I realize they had to age her up because there was no way she could have been this Elinor’s mother if she were 40 as in the book!

Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars

It’s Hugh Grant? What can I say? He bumbled and stuttered as Edward but Thompson did fluff up his character in scenes of his kindness to Margaret. His character was also aged up so as to match better with the older Elinor. But his back story remained the same, which makes me scratch my head. He became engaged to Lucy while at her uncle’s school, 4 years ago… Yet he’s clearly in his 30s! What was he doing at school at such an advanced age? Did no one think about this?

Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon

Sigh. I love Alan Rickman, I really do. But he was 49 when he played Brandon and could not pass for 35. This would be fine, except that Marianne was NOT aged up. That makes their age difference over 30 years, as opposed to 18 as in the book. I had trouble seeing him as any more than a father figure to her. Emma Thompson changed his history with Eliza- his father wouldn’t let them marry because she was poor, rather than in the book where she was rich and forced to marry his older brother. Her daugher’s name was changed to Beth, likely to avoid confusion. And Brandon was given a first name, Christopher.

Greg Wise as John Willoughby

My favorite Willoughby. He was handsome and dashing and simply too good to be true. Unfortunately, the script made him too sympathetic. He apparently was really going to propose to Marianne in this one until Lady Allen (Mrs. Smith in the book) disinherited him. His visit to Cleveland when Marianne is ill is omitted and instead all we get is a scene of him on a horse, watching Marianne’s wedding from afar. It’s a shame because I would have love to see him in that scene!

Elizabeth Spriggs as Mrs. Jennings

RIP Elizabeth Spriggs. The 1971 Mrs. Jennings showed a balance of vulgarity and kindness. 1981 focused more on the kindness. This one was jolly fun as a vulgar, silly old lady, but I was disappointed she did not accompany the girls to Cleveland. I would have liked to see her show her loving heart when she decides to stay and help Elinor nurse Marianne.

Imogen Stubbs as Lucy Steele

I liked her overall but was disappointed that Anne was not included! Because of this, Lucy is the one who reveals she is engaged to Edward. The book Lucy would never have done that! Anyway, I rank her slightly lower than the 1981 Lucy, only because her hair looks weird (I later learned it was a wig) and I’m shallow.

Robert Hardy as Sir John Middleton

He was aged up quite a bit from the book (where he is Mrs. Dashwood’s age). His wife is dead and he has no children. He constantly told silly jokes with Mrs. Jennings and was quite over the top. He was funny, that’s for sure, but I have a hard time believing Colonel Brandon would be able to tolerate him for extended periods of time, let alone be close friends with him.

Imelda Staunton as Charlotte Palmer

There sure are a lot of Harry Potter actors in this, aren’t there? I thought she was much too old for the part but willingly ignored it because it wasn’t as big a deal to me as with some of the other characters. And I thought she resembled Elizabeth Spriggs enough to actually be believable as her daughter.

Hugh Laurie as Mr. Palmer

I loved Hugh Laurie in the role but admittedly his role was much bigger than in the book. Still, he cracked me up and was certainly not unpleasing to look at.

Richard Lumsden as Robert Ferrars

He didn’t do much but he was great in the little bits he was in. Just look at his face! Does it not scream “stupid coxcomb” to you?

Harriet Walter and James Fleet as Fanny and John Dashwood

These two also both appeared in 2008’s Little Dorrit. Walter was Mrs. Gowan and I didn’t recognize him at first but then realized that James Fleet played Frederick Dorrit! He certainly aged a lot. Anyway, Fanny was deliciously evil and money-obsessed. She essentially played both her part and that of her mother, as Mrs. Ferrars is only mentioned by the characters and is never shown on screen. John was suitably snobbish and easily led by his wife. They have no child in this so it makes Fanny seem even more selfish in keeping money back from the other Dashwoods only for herself.

The Costumes

This movie had really nice costumes. I thought most of Elinor’s gowns were ugly and dowdy but that may have been intentional to emphasize the “spinster” look. But Marianne usually looked really good. I particularly liked these two ensembles:

The gold colors look really nice on her and I adore that bonnet!

Final Thoughts

Was I too harsh on this movie? Maybe…but I stand by what I said. I do enjoy watching it in spite of its flaws. Soon I’ll review my favorite version, the 2008 miniseries. Rest assured, I have some issues with that one as well. But there were some scenes that were just so “right” to me and its casting makes it stand head and shoulders above the rest. I know not everyone agrees with me and that’s okay. How dull would it be if everyone felt the same, after all?

My Rating: 7/10

Sense and Sensibility 1981 Review

23 May

I viewed the 1981 version of S&S again yesterday as I took screencaps. I was not very fond of it originally but I found I actually liked it a lot more seeing it again so soon after the 1971 version. The two share the same screenwriter, who seems to have lifted a lot from the 1971 to use again in this version. Many scenes are virtually identical, or very close. Margaret was cut yet again but other than that it followed the book more closely than 1971. It lacked all the whacky 70s costumes and hairstyles that made the earlier one so crazy and seemed much more understated to me. Part of this also has to do with the acting, much of which was more low-key. Some of the casting was better, some was worse…It’s up to you to decide which you prefer!

The Characters

Irene Richards as Elinor Dashwood

Not my favorite actress in the role, I must say. I liked her better than Emma Thompson (but I really don’t like Emma for the part so that’s not saying much). She seemed a bit too cold for me at times, whereas Joanna David and Hattie Morahan showed more of the character’s warmth and her loving heart. I’m not saying Richards was exactly bad in the role or anything, just in comparison she didn’t measure up. I liked her better as Charlotte Lucas in P&P 80.

Tracey Childs as Marianne Dashwood

A vast improvement over Ciaran Madden. She was the right age for the character and really acted like a young girl full of sensibility- not a hysterical woman in her 20s (Madden was 26 when she acted the part, older than Joanna David). She’s actually my favorite Marianne! I also like the way her illness was presented, as a gradual decline she brought upon herself after having her heart broken.

Bosco Hogan as Edward Ferrars

The dullest, flattest interpretation of Edward on screen. Sadly, apart from being about 10 years too old for the part, was probably also the closest to the book Edward. And since I’m not the biggest fan of the book Edward, I didn’t really like this one either. And is that a toupee he’s wearing? I admit, I’m shallow…

Robert Swann as Colonel Brandon

I liked him better than the 1971 Colonel Brandon and they thankfully changed Eliza back into being his ward in this one. Her whole history was somewhat glossed over, but at least it was more accurate than in 1971, which still puzzles me. This version also has him support Marianne after Willoughby snubs her at the London party.

Peter Woodward as Willoughby

Okay, I thought he was handsome and charming enough, but I had one bit problem with this actor. He looks like he’s wearing makeup! Not foundation or stuff like that that all actors wear, but real makeup- blush, lipstick, eyeliner, the whole kit and caboodle. Was the feminine look intentional? This is the only adaptation to feature Marianne and him singing together.

Annie Leon as Mrs. Jennings

Another good Mrs. Jennings. This adaptation kept a little bit of her vulgar side but really stressed her kindness more, I felt. And she looked the part too, unlike Patricia Routledge (however brilliant the latter’s performance was.)

Julia Chambers (bottom) as Lucy Steele

Pippa Sparkles as Anne Steele

Much better than 1971. Although they look nothing alike (2008 was the best in this regard) at least they are the right age. You can tell Lucy is conniving but not overtly so as in 1971. She at least looks cute on the outside!

Diana Fairfax as Mrs. Dashwood

She was okay, but probably my least favorite in the role. She was just so quiet and almost stoic. The sensibilities Marianne supposedly took after from her were nowhere to be seen.

Others

John Dashwood and Fanny were pretty good but I felt Fanny was too overtly rude to Mrs. Dashwood and vice-versa. There is a bit of John trying to set Elinor up with Colonel Brandon, which I can’t remember from the other versions (but may have been there…) This Mrs. Ferrars made more of an impact than 1971 and the debate over whether Harry Dashwood or the Middletons’ son William is taller was also included. Robert Ferrars picking out the toothpick case is not shown, but we do get to hear him talk about it to Lucy, which is the next best thing. I liked the Charlotte Palmer a lot because she was cute and silly. Mr. Palmer didn’t get much screen time. Sir John Middleton was alright but I felt Lady Middleton was a bit too out-going.

This production appears to have been shot entirely on film but that’s not to say the picture quality is any better for it. It looks okay on my not-so-new TV but on the computer it has a fuzzy quality if enlarged. Some of the pictures I posted I actually had to lighten up because they were a bit too dark to see!

Spoiler Alert!

I know I said the 1971 ending was fake and cheesy with both couples just happening to get engaged at the same time. This one is the total opposite. It ends quite abruptly after Elinor and Edward get engaged. Colonel Brandon comes over and lends Marianne The Mysteries of Udolpho… and that’s it! We do see that she has warmed up to him and so the general idea would be that they eventually get married but I would have liked some more closure.

My Rating: 6/10

Sense and Sensibility 1971 Review

21 May

Ah, the 1971 Sense and Sensibility, the latest to be released from the BBC vault…what can I say? I was nervous at first since it’s from the 70s and I’m not very fond of those versions of Emma or Persuasion. But it actually wasn’t that bad. It’s not my favorite version of S&S but it does have quite a bit to recommend it.

If you’re put off by poor, stagey production values I would stay away from it. Like most of these older miniseries, only the outdoor scenes were shot on film and so you can see a difference in picture between indoor and outdoor shots. The story mostly follows the book but cuts out Margaret and for some reason turns Eliza Williams into Colonel Brandon’s niece. Okay…so why doesn’t he just tell everyone she’s his niece instead of letting them think she’s his illegitimate? Didn’t quite follow that. The costumes are not as garish as the 1972 Persuasion but there are some weird ones nonetheless. The hairstyles are very 70s. See below for examples!

Note- Sorry if the format of the pictures is a bit weird. I wanted them all on the left but every time I saved they would move over so I decided it would be easier just to alternate them. I’m not really good with this technical sort of thing!

The Characters

Joanna David as Elinor Dashwood

My second favorite Elinor, only after Hattie Morahan. You may remember her as Mrs. Gardiner in P&P 95. She was so beautiful in this and played Elinor as dignified and sensible, but clearly also feeling strong emotions underneath.

Ciaran Madden as Marianne Dashwood

Horrible! The worst version of Marianne I’ve ever seen. She played the character as mentally unstable, flying off into hysterics at the least provocation. The scene where she bids goodbye to the curtains at Norland made me LOL. Such a contrast with the lovely Elinor.

Robin Ellis as Edward Ferrars

He plays Edward with a slight stutter, reminiscent of Hugh Grant in the role. Whether Grant or Emma Thompson or someone on board the 1995 movie was familiar with this version and/or it was intentional, I have no idea. I thought he did well in the role aside from that. He’s not gorgeous but he is just good-looking enough to me.

Richard Owens as Colonel Brandon

Seemed like a boring old fart to me. His and Marianne’s relationship wasn’t given as much care as Elinor and Edward’s.

Clive Francis as Willoughby

Nothing special or particularly charming about him. His voice vibrated all the time he talked for some reason.

Frances Cuka as Lucy Steele

I don’t know what they were thinking with this casting. She looks to be 40 or so and is played downright evil! I mean, obviously so! She pinches and pushes her sister (who also is middle-aged). How she was able to charm Edward even when he was young and naive I don’t know. He must have been really, truly desperate.

Maggie Jones as Anne Steele

Ignorant enough and seems genuinely afraid of Lucy. Why they are played by women in their 40s is beyond me.

Patricia Routledge as Mrs. Jennings

Hands down my favorite Mrs. Jennings! She’s jolly and vulgar and yet shows that she has a kind heart underneath. Unfortunately, she looks way too young! I wish they could have put a wig on her or something. She looks younger than one of her “daughters”!

Isabel Dean as Mrs. Dashwood

I quite liked her. She was a good mother who also displayed romantic sensibilities, as in the book.

The other actors were decent enough, but nothing stood out to me, aside from Sir John’s accent reminding me of Hagrid from Harry Potter. The Palmers’ role wasn’t very big but it’s really only in the 1995 version where they are brought to the spotlight so much. Lady Middleton looked older than her mother, Mrs. Jennings. Did they just not care about such things back then? Mrs. Ferrars and Robert Ferrars were included but their parts were very small and didn’t leave much of an impression on me.

Costume Fun!

Fanny in a sleeveless gown!

Guess these “controversial” costumes really started a lot earlier than P&P05!

Edward sans cravat!

In a weird scene, Elinor goes to visit Edward at his lodgings, alone, to tell him that Colonel Brandon wants to give him a living. He was underdressed at the time. Guess “sexing up” Austen started sooner too!

Matching Outfit Fun!

There are a couple other matching outfits the Dashwood girls wear and also the Steele sisters.

Twins?

Sophia Grey reminds me of Rosamund Vincy from Middlemarch!

My Rating: 7/10