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!
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.
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.
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…)
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.
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.