Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sense and Sensibility Comparison: Part 1

 Sense and Sensibility was the first of Jane Austen's novels to be published two hundred years ago. It has been adapted multiple times within the last fifty years. The two most recent adaptations are probably the best known by fans. The 1995 movie starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet was beloved when it came out and even won some awards. Thirteen years later after Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility, in 2008 another version came out starring Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield. Since these two adaptations are the most well known among Austen fans, they are often compared. This is where this post comes in. Miss Bennet from Elegance of Fashion and Melody from Regency Delight~Jane Austen, etc. will voice their opinions on the different aspects of each adaptation and then pick which one they prefer at the end!

Elinor Dashwood

Emma Thompson (1995) 
Miss Elizabeth Bennet: Emma Thompson's Elinor had a quiet demeanor. She did a really good job showing that Elinor had emotions, even though she had to hold them back. In the book, Elinor has a lot of deep feelings, but she doesn't bluntly show them; this is what Emma Thompson's performance exhibited. The only downfall to her Elinor was that she was in her mid thirties at the time, so she was a little too old to play Elinor (I heard that Ang Lee, the director, wanted Emma Thompson to play the role of Elinor, so he changed Elinor's age from 19 to 27).
Melody: As it is Emma Thompson who wrote the script, she seemed to really have a good feel for the character. She was too old...36 or something like that...and so they changed Elinor's age to mid-twenties, when in the book she's supposed to be 19 at the beginning. But that aside, it was well done.

Hattie Morahan (2008) 
Melody: I thought Hattie Morahan's Elinor was tolerable enough, but there was something about her... I picture Elinor as somebody prettier than she was, and she was too old too. 
Miss Elizabeth Bennet: Hattie Morahan's Elinor was a little bit louder than Emma Thompson's quiet Elinor. It's a plus that Hattie Morahan is closer in age to Elinor than Emma Thompson was. She did a good job with Elinor's calm nature and hiding her emotions, but she sometimes comes off as if Elinor doesn't have many emotions. She probably could have shown that she has emotions a little bit more than she did.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet: I like Emma Thompson's Elinor a little bit more than Hattie Morahan's. I can see Elinor as being more of a quiet person and I love how Emma Thompson was able to show so much emotion in a restrained manner.
Melody: I liked them both, but I suppose Emma Thompson's Elinor was my favorite. 

Marianne Dashwood
Kate Winslet (1995)
Miss Elizabeth Bennet: Kate Winslet is a tad older than Marianne should be (Marianne was 16, while at the time, Kate Winslet was 20), but I think she nails Marianne pretty well. Sometimes she might get a little over-the-top with the emotional side of Marianne, but I think that it works because Jane Austen's intent was to show how over-emotion isn't a good thing and to satirize the over-emotion that was popular in many novels of that time period.
Melody: I liked her. She seemed to have a good feel for the dramatic way Marianne is supposed to be. 

Charity Wakefield (2008)
Melody: Sometimes I liked the way she looked better than Kate Winslet, but there was something wanting in her Marianne-ness. She looked young... She wore her hair down sometimes, and I don't think that would have been quite appropriate...though since she was only 17 near the beginning, I suppose she may be excused a few times. (Lady Middleton, however, wore her hair down, and there can be no excuse for that...)
Miss Elizabeth Bennet: Charity Wakefield (who at the time was actually 27) was much older than Kate Winslet when she played Marianne. I thought that she needed to play Marianne with a little more emotion; she seemed restrained some of the time with her emotions which wouldn't be like Marianne.

Melody: Hmmm....hmm....this is one I've always been arguing with myself about. I like them both in differnet ways. I suppose I shall go with Kate Winslet. Charity Wakefield's hair, though, was at least closer to brown than Kate's (in the book I think Marianne has dark hair and eyes)
Miss Elizabeth Bennet: Of the two, I perfer Kate Winslet's Marianne. I didn't dislike Charity Wakefield's Marianne, but she needed to play up the emotional aspect of Marianne a little more.

Edward Farrars
Hugh Grant (1995)
Miss Elizabeth Bennet: I did not like Hugh Grant's appearance throughout the movie. He nearly looked sickly! Of course, I've never really cared for his appearance. His being cast as Edward Ferrars had caused some concern for some since they thought that he was too good-looking for the role, but since I don't really find him good-looking and since Edward Ferrars isn't supposed to be, I think that wouldn't have have been a problem. Other than that, I thought that he acted Edward pretty well: Edward is supposed to be shy, which I think he did well.
Melody: The 1995 version was the first one I saw, and I didn’t dislike the Edward. After reading the book, Hugh Grant seemed a little too awkward and reserved. 
Dan Stevens (2008)
Melody: I really liked this Edward. He may be considered too good looking for the part, but I don’t care about that. (ha! Besides, he’s not supposed to be unpleasant looking.) He seemed to capture the sort of witty way Edward was in the book. He could have been a little more reserved, though.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet: Dan Stevens was a much better looking Edward Ferrars than Hugh Grant (but then again, Edward isn't supposed to be very handsome). Dan's Steven's acting in this adaptation comes off as a little more assertive then Hugh Grant's and much better spoken. I did notice that they also developed Edward and Margaret's relationship very similarly in both adaptations.
Miss Bennet: I think that Hugh Grant's Edward was probably a little more closer to the book, but I think I perfer Dan Steven's Edward. I liked how in the 2008 version how they took the time to develop his and Elinor's relationship at Norland where in the 1995 version it was done much quicker.
Melody: Dan Stevens wins my award. Hugh Grant seemed too awkward, as I said, and also too solemn sometimes; but he was all right. (Not to mention, Dan Stevens has those blue eyes…)

Colonel Brandon
Alan Rickman (1995)
Melody: Well, he was way too old, that’s what. Col. Brandon is supposed to be 35 in the book. Alan Rickman was around 50. In the movie they never said how old he was, but Mrs. Jennings referred to his former romantic attachment as ’20 years back’ – so obviously they weren’t trying to make him 35. However, he seemed to act a certain melancholy way which I thought quite appropriate for Col. Brandon.
Miss Bennet: I like Alan Rickman's Colonel Brandon. I thought that he portrayed the quietness and graveness that Jane Austen described in Sense and Sensibility very well. He was probably a little older than Colonel Brandon should have been (Alan Rickman was about 49 while Colonel Brandon is supposed to be only 35), but I don't think it made too much of a difference in this case.
David Morrissey (2008)
Miss Bennet: I also liked David Morrissey's Colonel Brandon too. He pulled off Colonel Brandon's shyness well, but I think that he less quiet than I pictured Colonel Brandon. He was a little younger than Alan Rickman, but was still little older than Colonel Brandon should have been (44 instead of 35).
Melody: He was all right, but he seemed too bland or something. I don’t remember Col. Brandon commenting on Marianne’s piano playing the way he did in this movie, either…I refer less to the actual circumstance and more to the way he was acting…his character, I suppose.
Melody: I really cannot decide which I prefer! I do like Alan Rickman’s acting better, though. Where the book says ‘with much emotion’ or some such, David Morrissey just says it, whereas Alan Rickman does say it with emotion.
Miss Bennet: I really like both versions of Colonel Brandon (he is one of my favorite Jane Austen characters), but I think I'm still a little partial to Alan Rickman's Colonel Brandon.

John Willoughby
Greg Wise (1995)
Miss Bennet: Greg Wise's Willoughby was pretty good: he was charming, agreeable, and if you didn't know the story you may be shocked to find out about his past. His portrayal comes very close to what Jane Austen wrote in Sense and Sensibility
Melody: Unfortunately, when I have no negative comment to make, it seems I can think of very little to say. I think Greg Wise’s performance was very well done, very Willoughby-ish, very convincing; he was tall, dark, and handsome enough.
Dominic Cooper (2008)
Melody: Frankly, I did not like Cooper’s Willoughby at all. He was unattractive and too somber- acting, and does not have the easy manners Willoughby should. I did like the fact that Willoughby came and talked to Elinor when Marianne was recovering, but that is a point to the movie, not really to him. I often find myself comparing him to a toad….
Miss Bennet: Could they have found anyone creepier than Dominic Cooper to play Willoughby? Honestly, the whole time Willoughby is on the screen, you have to ask yourself "How could anyone trust this guy?" Willoughby is supposed to be charming and with the appearance of goodness: Dominic Cooper had neither! He already looked like a villian as soon as he came on the screen! Definately a miscast, to be sure!
Miss Bennet: Greg Wise, definately. Dominic Cooper was severely miscasted as Willoughby: he was much too creepy.
Melody: This is one decision that is not hard for me. Greg Wise all the way. Why Marianne would ever fall for a Willoughby such as Dominic Cooper presents him, I know not

Navigate to the Different Parts of the Sense and Sensibility Comparison!
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


Melody said...

It looks good! :) Although I think the font made it loose all the italics...

Sidne,the BCR said...

let me see, i like emma t. better. although she looks a little to modern looking. I liked Kate w. better. the men, Hugh g. although he may have play the shy part well, Dan looks the part better. He looks like he can be shy in real life. As for Colonel, Alan looks the part except that shyness. i give that to david. however, he could not pull off that statement,mrs. jenning made about '20 years back's. i tied with these guys.
nice post.

Sidne,the BCR said...

I thought i posted this but something must of happened. anyway, here goes, my choices, lol.
emma better although she do look a bit to modern.
Kate better, she just have that look i imagined for this character, even hair.
the men: i like hugh better although Dan has that look of shyness. he seems to look the part also so maybe i should go with him, dan.
Im tied on the choice of the colone. alan fits well if mrs jenning referred to him as a 20 year back romance, however david has the shy look and fits the role well too. so i'm undecided their.
Nice post!! enjoyed reading and continual happy reading two you!!

beast'sbelle said...

I'm so glad someone else didn't care for Dominic Cooper's Willoughby! After watching the newer adaptation a few more times, he doesn't bother me as much. The first time I watched it, though, I thought he looked too ferret-like, especially around the eyes. :}

I grew up with the Emma Thompson version, so I prefer most of those characters, although I agree with the reviewers and prefer Dan Stevens' Edward to Hugh Grant's.

I also like how the newer version includes more scenes from the book, particularly Edward's visit to the cottage and Willoughby's visit to the Palmer's home. But was anyone else bothered by the way they did that scene? In the book, Willoughby's main reason for coming was that he was afraid that Marianne was dying after a conversation with Sir John Middleton. In the movie, he basically was there to try and justify himself, with no "How is Marianne?"

Thanks for this review. I'm looking forward to part 2. :)

Jessica said...

Great post. :-)
"I find myself comparing him to toad. " Too funny! Haha

Jemimah C. said...

Interesting comparison for Sense and Sensibility. I enjoyed reading your different opinions.

Mel said...

I loved this post. I really enjoyed reading both your points of view!

I haven't seen the 2008 version but I am planning to buy it very soon!
I agree Emma Thompson was too old but I thought she portrayed Elinor beautifully!
I loved Kate as Marianne, but if I remember correctly I liked her better in the novel- it took me a little while to like Kate's Marianne.
I hated Hugh Grant! I thought it his performance was disgusting- just remembering it makes me want to cry because he destroyed Edward for me! I really want to see Dan Stevens in this role, he is so handsome and I think he is a great actor!
Alan Rickman's Col. Brandon did seem way too old.
ohh and Willoughby! Greg Wise is and always be Willoughby, he was so great. His portrayal made me fall in love with him - especially that scene at the end!


rohit said...

Must be an enjoyable read Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and orignal, this book is going in by "to read" list.

Charity U said...

Miss Elizabeth and Melody -- Can you believe I never found the time to read this until just now? But now I've seen both movies, and am really enjoying the comparisons. Thanks so much for posting!