With it being the great bicentennial of Sense and Sensibility this month, Miss Wareham and I decided to do a special post on the different TV and film adaptations of Miss Austen’s first published work. By this we mean adaptations close to the book, so we’re not including from Prada to Nada or similar in this…
We looked at three adaptations in particular:
1) 1980s BBC starring Irene Richards and Tracey Childs.
2) 1995 Film version starring Emma Thompson
3) 2008 TV adaptation starring David Morrisey
We had seen the latter two several times of course, but as for the first, we were rather ignorant, before we spotted it for three quid in HMV. So, anticipating a hilariously old fashioned version, we settled down for a superior mocking session over the bonnets. However, we assumed that due to it being Miss Austen’s Great Work, we would be easily able to watch it. This proved to be quite a hasty assumption. From the opening titles, we were worried. Ten minutes in, we were horrified, and twenty minutes in, bored rigid, but neither of us wanted to admit it. After all, it was Sense and Sensibility. It was bound to pick up eventually. Yet somehow… even Miss Austen’s words couldn’t make it right.
Perhaps, if we persevered, things would get better, but by the time we got to the end of the first episode, which seemed to drag on forever, we couldn’t face the X amount of episodes left. One of the finest comic moments in the novel – Fanny Dashwood persuading her husband not to give his sisters a penny – was rendered dry and lifeless!
And the costumes! Don’t get us started on the costumes… We know it was the eighties, don’t get us wrong, but there are some things than cannot be pardoned by the times. Our disappointment in the costumes can be summed up by one, HIDEOUS dress:
I mean…OUCH. Doily pain. These provided some much needed comedy value. The main actors themselves were fairly good. Marianne (pictured left) was suitably dramatic and dreamy, and Elinor was sensible and measured. However, we were disappointed by Edward Ferrars. He was not only sporting an odd choice of costume (long pants verging on flares – where were the britches?) but an ill-advised hair-do. Edward is a much disputed Austen man, often overlooked and brushed off as a little unworthy of the good Elinor’s heart. Emma Thompson described him as ‘rice puddingy’ and you can nod in agreement sometimes with that depiction, but this was NOT a good portrayal of Mr Ferrars. See Below.
We do realise however, that there may be some fans of this version out there, and we want to apologise and pledge our promise to persevere and watch the whole adapatation. Perhaps once we’ve got a dash of Willoughby and a sprinkling of Colonel Brandon, the series will pick up and feel more like Austen. Once we do accomplish thnis whole viewing, we’ll let you know how it went.
Wish us luck.
Keep a look out for parts two and three of our Sense and Sensibility adaptation reviews. Next time we’ll be looking at the award winning 1995 film version starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Greg Wise and Alan Rickman. if you have seen this 1980 version, and liked it better than we did, please let us know!