Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sense and Sensibility (BBC 1981)

Captain’s Log, Stardate 04.04.2007

Elinor and Maryanne…

I’m quite disappointed in the BBC version of Sense and Sensibility. While some things were much better than Mansfield Park, other more important things were lacking.

Costumes: score 4. I loved the costumes. Elinor and Marianne’s clothes were plainer than the richer ladies like Lady Middleton, although Marianne’s dress was a little too plain during her time in London, and Mrs. Jennings did not dress as richly as one would suppose from her wealth.

Acting: score 3. I liked the actress who played Elinor. The actress who played Marianne was very pretty, but she was a bit melodramatic at times, and especially bad when she was ill at the end. Mrs. John Dashwood was horrible. Mrs. Dashwood was a good actress, but her portrayal of the character was very different than the book, which disappointed me. I liked Edward quite a bit, as well as Lucy. The actors who played the other characters were okay, although not quite true to the characters in the book.

Camera/filming: score 4. I don’t know if I’m giving this a 4 only because Mansfield Park was so appalling, but there it is.

Musical score: score 3. For a low budget series, the instrumentation was good—some nice violins and a relatively full-sounding score—but the tone of the music was very different than the tone of the book or the series. It was rather melancholy, and the book is supposed to be a comedic romance.

Script: score 1. Absolutely awful. The series was almost 3 hours long, but the early episodes were devoid of emotion and did a poor job setting up the romances between Elinor and Edward, and Marianne and Willoughby.

I didn’t feel for the lovers at all, and the script didn’t set up the situation with Lucy Steele, so when the blow fell on Elinor, I didn’t feel for her at all. The script also didn’t set up the intense affections of Marianne and Willoughby so that when he slights her in London, it seemed like she was overreacting.

The scene structure and pacing were also very uneven, and I felt like it whipped along at the wrong moments.

The acting wasn’t bad, but the script’s dialogue multiplied the evils of the weaker actors. I liked the actress who played Elinor quite a bit, but it was painful to watch her trudge along with the lines she was given, especially in the more emotional scenes.

And then the script didn’t hold to Regency mores and traditions—people used proper names most improperly in different scenes, as well as terms of endearments that I’d have expected from Marianne and Willoughby in their early courtship, not from Edward, Elinor, or even Lucy.

And then Marianne’s sickness—pffaugh! And the last scene!!! (Camy tries to contain her disgust.)

In sum: 3 out of 5. In fact, despite the motion-sickness-inducing camera direction of Mansfield Park, I enjoyed that series much better and would be more likely to see it again than Sense and Sensibility.

I didn’t compare it to the movie with Emma Thompson because it’s been so long since I’ve seen it, but I remember liking it a lot and being swept along by the script and acting.


  1. There's a new Sense and Sensibility miniseries being filmed now, should be on TV this fall (I hope). It was scripted by Andrew Davies, who wrote the script for the Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice, so I have high hopes for it being good!

  2. Oh here's the link:

  3. The Emma Thompson movie is even better than the book.

    But nothing beats the BBC Pride and Prejudice--although the more recent theatrical Pride and Prejudice depicts the differences between country and city balls quite well.

    Darcy rocks! I want to be Darcy!

    (And I'm terrified that I'm actually Mr. Collins.)