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!
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.
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.
Sophia Grey reminds me of Rosamund Vincy from Middlemarch!
My Rating: 7/10