Lowdown: More English women's adventures from Jane Austen.
In our home Sense and Sensibility was better known as Zenz unt Zenzibility, because my partner had a German VHS copy that had German dubbing (naturally). Yet with our ongoing Jane Austen fest we decided to put our hands on a “proper” English speaking DVD, so I can watch this 1995 release for the second time after more than ten years.
Watching Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility reminded me a lot of watching Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Is it, perhaps, because so many of the plot’s main ideas are shared together with the added idea from Emma that it’s cool for a teen aged female to marry an old bloke?
Set in Austen times (18th century?), the story follows a family of women whose husband/father died. Contemporary English law has everything going to the deceased’s son of a former marriage, which means our women now have to leave the estate they lived in and grew up in, servants and all, and move to a lowly cottage as they see their old possessions taken by a rather nasty sister in law. The question then becomes, how are the now poor girls going to get a good marriage now that they’re poor and have nothing but their intellect and spirit to offer would be suitors? Potential suitors still fly by, but they all have their issues: old promises made to other women, losing their allowances through marrying lowly ranked wives, or just being too reliable and predictable for some tastes. Rest assured, though: all will end well.
Of the Austen films and TV series we’ve had the pleasure of watching recently, there can be no doubt that this Ang Lee directed film is the best made. This does not, however, mean it is the best: Production values are vastly inferior to the recent Keira Knightley take on Pride and Prejudice. And then there’s the script being the second cousin of Pride and Prejudice: come on, Austen, couldn’t you be more original? I guess I would have enjoyed Sense and Sensibility much more had I watched it ahead of its superior sibling.
Still, talent comes to Sense and Sensibility’s rescue again: not only does the film have a very talented director at the helm, it also oozes with acting talent. There’s Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet, and Hugh Grant to name the more prominent names; of these, each of the first two provides [yet another] excellent performance.
Best scene: The son who is about to inherit the women’s possessions gives his oath to the dying father, promising to support the women. A process of attrition takes place, and by the time he meets the women his wife convinces him it’s in the women’s best interest not to receive any support.
Technical assessment: This single layer DVD is pretty bad, with a picture lacking in details and often shaky (!) and sound totally lacking inspiration. I believe a newer DVD edition was released in Australia: the one we've rented was obviously one of the very first DVDs to be released.
Overall: Good, but suffering from Austen fatigue. 3.5 out of 5 stars.