Tag Archives: 1995 Sense And Sensibility

RIP Alan Rickman

*Warning: the post contains minor spoilers about the narrative and characters in Sense and Sensibility. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or have watched any of the adaptations. 

Two years ago today, the world lost of one this era’s greatest actors: Alan Rickman.

My favorite Alan Rickman performance will always be Colonel Brandon in 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. Playing opposite Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood, his character (as it was faithfully adapted from the novel of the same name by Jane Austen), was a man who held the proverbial cards to his chest. When the audience meets Colonel Brandon in the film, he introduced as the good friend of the cousin who is renting a small cottage on his property to the newly widowed Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters. A bachelor in his mid 30’s,  he is amiable and a gentleman, but his character and his past are a mystery at that juncture in the narrative.

Over the course of the story, Colonel Brandon is revealed to be a man whose past is filled with grief and heartbreak. Rickman played the part with nuance and sensitivity, elevating the character to a new level, reminding Janeites why Colonel Brandon is one of the favorite leading men within the Jane Austen universe. Rickman himself became a fan favorite, gaining new fans and a new level of respect from the Janeite fan base.

RIP Sir. While your physical remains are gone, your spirit and your body of work will live on forever.

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RIP Alan Rickman

Today, the world lost Alan Rickman, one of the finest actors of  his generation.

Over the years, he played a variety of roles.

I would like to talk about three of my favorite Alan Rickman roles.

The first, is the most obvious. Professor Snape in the Harry Potter film series.

With his dark hair, dark cloak and slightly fear inspiring persona, Professor Snape appeared to be the standard villain.

But he was much more than that. His loyalty and love for Harry’s mother (and to Harry, by virtue of being her son) was so strong, that he tried to forget the angst that Harry’s father forced onto  him during their younger days and protect Harry.

The second role I am going to talk about is Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest.

Alexander Dane is a classically trained actor who has been type cast because of one science fiction role in one television program. His career, like most of his fellow actors, stuck in that one character. Rickman’s droll and disbelief is absolutely perfect.

The third and final role is my absolute favorite Alan Rickman role. If you know me, this is an obvious one. Colonel Brandon in the 1995 Sense and Sensibility.

To a woman of my age, a guy like Colonel Brandon is a catch. Steady, amiable, treats those around with respect, has a large income, but does not flaunt it, etc. But to a teenage girl like Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet), he is not the first choice of husband.

Sometimes we need a little prodding from fate to see what has been in front of us all along.

While his onscreen reunion with Winslet in last year’s A Little Chaos was not the greatest film, it was wonderful to see them on-screen together after 20 years.

RIP, sir. You will be missed by many.

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Bridget Jones Diary: Book And Movie Review

Helen Fielding’s heroine in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones is an every woman. Bridget is on the wrong side of 30, single, smokes and drinks too much, flirts with her boss and is far from modelesque.

Published in 1996 and made into a movie in 2001, Bridget makes the rest of us feel better about our lives.

I’ve seen the movie several times over the past 13 years. I just finished the book.

I enjoyed the book, but as often happens when books are made into movies, changes are made to either characters or plot.  Pulling from Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, Fielding has written a very funny and realistic picture of what it is to be a modern single female adult.

The movie is extremely funny. Surprisingly, Renee Zellweger, an American actress,  fits in brilliantly with the English cast.  Whomever the casting director was for this movie, they must have had the Janeite community in mind. Colin Firth (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pride and Prejudice 1995), Hugh Grant (Edward Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility 1995), Gemma Jones (Mrs. Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility 1995), and Embeth Davidtz (Mary Crawford, Mansfield Park 1999) were all perfectly cast.

While I recommend the book, the movie is that much better.

P.S.  I’m adding the fight scene, well,  just because Darcy never had the chance to properly clock Wickham in the face in Pride and Prejudice doesn’t mean he can’t do it in Bridget Jones Diary.

 

 

 

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Sense And Sensibility 1995 Vs Sense And Sensibility 2008

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel. Writing under the pseudonym of “a lady”, Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. When their father passes away, their elder brother inherits the family estate, Norland Park. Knowing that Norland Park is no longer their home, Elinor and Marianne, with their mother and younger sister Margaret are forced to find a new home and make a new life elsewhere.

As I did with the other novels, I’m going to compare and contrast the most recent adaptations.

1995

Cast: Elinor (Emma Thompson), Marianne (Kate Winslet), Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman), Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) and John Willoughby (Greg Wise) .

  • Pro’s: Directed by Ang Lee, with a screenplay by Emma Thompson, the 1995 movie retains Austen’s voice as a writer.  It is a charming movie, for both the general movie fan and the ardent Janeite. Greg Wise looks awful good in breeches.
  • Cons: Let’s face it, as good as an actress and a screenwriter Emma Thompson is, she was far from 19 when this movie was made.  Elinor is still a teenager, regardless of the actress stepping into her shoes.

2008

Cast: Elinor (Hattie Morahan), Marianne (Charity Wakefield), Colonel Brandon (David Morrisey), Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens)  and John Willoughby (Dominic Cooper).

  • Pro’s: With a screenplay written by Andrew Davies and the younger characters played by a whose who of  young British actors, this adaptation has a lot going for it. Davies fleshes out secondary story lines that that makes the primary story line vibrant and alive.  I also like is that the cast is age appropriate.
  • Con’s: None.

And the winner is….. I can’t decide.

 

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My Favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

Adapting a book into a performable format is complicated. It has to be true to the original novel and please the fans while appealing to the entire audience, not just the hard core fan base.

I am a Janeite. As one might be able to guess my personal library and DVD collection contains a fair amount of Jane Austen related materials.

I would to share my top three favorite Jane Austen adaptations and why these three films should be viewed as templates for any writer or filmmaker looking to adapt a book.

My criteria is the following:

1. The actors have to look the part. The chemistry has to be there. Otherwise it all falls apart. (Yes, I am looking at you, 1996 Jane Eyre. William Hurt was too old for the part of Edward Rochester and had zero chemistry with Charlotte Gainsbourg).

2. The set has to look right. Every reader has their own idea of what the setting looks like, but it has to like right.

3.  It MUST follow the book as much as possible.

That being said, here my favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

3. 1995 Sense and Sensibility

Directed by Ang Lee and written by Emma Thompson  (who also played the lead role of Elinor Dashwood), this adaptation is beautiful.

Joining Emma Thompson is Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood, Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars and Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon.

Putting aside the fact that Emma Thompson was a generation older than her character and played Elinor as if she was in her late 20’s, I have no complaints about this adaptation. I’ve read that some people didn’t think that Hugh Grant was the right actor to play Edward, but Edward Ferrars is a bit of a controversial character within Jane Austen fiction. I personally think that Dan Stevens was a better Edward, but to each their own.

2. 1995 Persuasion 

Persuasion is the last of Austen’s completed novels. It has an Autumnal feeling, sad and sweet. As if she knew deep down that this would be her last completed work.

Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds play the two leads, Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth. The chemistry between them is palpable.  They are both age appropriate and look like they have experienced a bit of life.

It’s lush, it’s beautiful and as with the novel, when you think that second chances don’t happen, they do happen. So does the happiness that you thought was lost forever.

1. 1995 Pride And Prejudice

You knew this was obvious. This is the one where Colin Firth in clingy pants strips down to his knickers and white shirt and dives into the lake.

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle have some of the best on screen chemistry that I have ever seen. While I am sure they both would like the audience to look at their entire body of work and  not just this particular performance, there is no denying that whatever it is that make actors look good together on screen, they have it.

The supporting cast works. The filmmakers crossed their t’s and dotted their eyes with this production.  I still get shivers when I hear the theme song.

I recommend any of these films for any viewer or Janeite, whether they be a newbie or old fan.

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Filed under Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

The Friendly Jane Austen- Friendly Indeed

To those of her time, Jane Austen seemed to have lived an unremarkable life. She was the youngest daughter of a country rector. She never married or had children. During her lifetime, her books were published anonymously as “A Lady”.  Northanger Abbey, her first completed novel and Persuasion, her last completed novel, were published posthumously.

Why is it that a woman seemed to have lived an unremarkable life during her own time period, is still discussed and debated nearly 200 years after her death? Natalie Tyler’s 1999 book, The Friendly Jane Austen answers this question.

Through interviews with academics, writers and performers who have acted in the various adaptions, Ms. Tyler makes Jane Austen as vibrant and alive as she was 200 years ago.

I bought this book at a used book store. I didn’t expect to find it, but it was too tempting to not purchase.

I loved this book. Some Jane Austen related books are written only for the Janeite fan community, an newbie or an outsider might find those books to be boring and unreadable. But not this book. The interviewees include writer Fay Weldon and actress Harriet Walter (Fanny Dashwood in the 1995 Sense and Sensibility). This book is for everyone, whether they be a newbie or a long time Janeite or anyone who is curious about her novels.

My favorite part of the novel was the quizzes. Ms. Tyler creates multiple quizzes, asking the reader what type of Jane they might be and asking them to guess the quotes from the various novels.

I highly recommend this book.

 

 

 

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