It’s time for
AUSTEN MOVIE ADAPTATION
Who did it better? Which cast nailed the chemistry? Which director clearly did their Austen homework? Which soundtrack was most cringe-worthy?
I’m breaking down the best-known Jane Austen film adaptations for you, one novel at a time.
Next up is the original Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants:
Sense & Sensibility
Production date: 1981
Runtime: 174 min
I have to say, the casting is really excellent. I don’t know any of these actors, but they clearly embodied the characters (so much so that the degraded visual and audio quality didn’t muddy the water about what a right bitch Franny Dashwood is, or how ridiculously young and silly Marianne is). So much so, in fact, that I relate to Elinor in this adaptation, as I do not in the novel or other adaptations I’ve seen.
Fanny Dashwood’s reaction to the news that Lucy Steele is engaged to Edward Ferrars. And the moment before, when she shakes Anne Steele like a rag doll. I was waiting for her to slap the poor girl…but honestly, the banshee shriek was enough.
90% of the Marianne and Willoughby interactions were omitted, where in the book we see his enabling her mindless adoration and manipulation of her feelings. Makes it somewhat perplexing when, in the next Short-Attention-Span-Theater segment Marianne is described as constantly crying, refusing to talk.
Also…where the hell is Margaret?!
Production date: 2008
Runtime: 180 min
DIdn’t get to watch, as someone at my library is hoarding it. 🙁
(I am super bummed about this, because I have a feeling this one would be my favorite, and I missed the watch-along of it this year)
Production date: 1995
Runtime: 131 min
Every scene with Edward and Margaret. Hugh Grant plays awkward so becomingly, it’s hard not to be charmed (even though in the novel, I find Edward a bit of a wet blanket).
Alan Rickman is fantastically cast in everything, and dampened my typical slight discomfort with the Colonel Brandon/Marianne situation.
Imelda Staunton and Hugh Laurie make the perfect Palmers. They’re perfect over-the-top characters in everything.
Also, this is petty of me, but I absolutely love Fanny Dashwood’s dress in the scene where Lucy Steele confides of her engagement (er, in place of Anne, apparently). I wants it, my precious!
Where the hell is Anne Steele?!
Production date: 1971
Runtime: 178 min
Sadly, my library didn’t have a copy of this, so I can’t judge it ruthlessly.
(anybody else notice a pattern of Marianne having curls and Elinor not? What are you trying to say, directors?)
While the 1981 version was spot-on with casting and the acting was approachable, it galloped through a lot of the subtleties that create tension in the plot, leaving it feeling rushed. I do have a few issues with the 1995 version, but between the two it was the clear winner.
My opinion may be revised if I can ever get my mitts on the other two versions!
Looking for a modern adaptation?
*To see Misty at The Book Rat’s analysis of Sense & Sensibility movies, and where we agreed (and didn’t!), go here!