Sense & Sensibility on Masterpiece Theatre this last week? It was the end of Jane Austen Season, which makes me sad, but we still have a new adaptation of A Room With a View to look forward to next week. Hopefully, the people who made it chose not to reincarnate Helena Bonham Carter's wild 80s hair. I always found her hairstyle in that movie so distracting. In 20 years, will people be saying the same thing about, say, Pride & Prejudice (either recent version)? I mean, if it's a period drama, it should be period hairstyles, right? And thus not influenced by the decade in which the film is made? Maybe groundbreaking new research about late 18th- and early 19th-century hairstyles was completed around the time P&P came out, and that's why we haven't seemed to have that problem since travesties like A Room With a View and that freaky 80s version of Northanger Abbey.
Anyway, I really liked this new version of S&S. Miniseries adaptations of novels always have at least one advantage over any existing Hollywood version - increased length. There's just so much more you can do with an extra 30 - 60 minutes, so in some ways it isn't a fair comparison.
But I'll make a few comparisons anyway, with the 1995 Emma Thompson version. I had a bit of a roller coaster relationship with that movie. I saw it when it first came out and loved it - the Sheriff of Nottingham played a good guy, a young woman got lost on a beautiful hill in the rain after a tragic breakup, the soundtrack was gorgeous, etc. What's not to like?
A few years later in college, I saw it again and decided I didn't like it after all. Everything suddenly seemed so...understated. And Hugh Grant bugged the heck out of me. Why was the power of simple speech so beyond him?!?
And then, sometime after we moved to Tucson, I saw it again. And loved it again, but for different reasons than the first time. For all its faults of reduced attention to certain plots and still having to deal with a bumbling Hugh Grant, I decided it was a wonderful movie. Yes, it was still understated, but it was essentially true to the original story in theme and feel.
I was surprised by and loved many things in this new version. Some of them are an improvement over the 1995 version; others are compliments that stand alone without comparison to its predecessor.
- I absolutely loved the new portrayal of Colonel Brandon and Marianne's relationship. It had so much more feeling and nuance, and we really saw how Marianne "grew up" in the process.
- This version of Lucy Steele was much more devious than the original. In the 1995 version, you could probably argue that she was just a sweet girl who was innocently sharing everything with Elinor. But this one made it clear that she is every bit as conniving, manipulative, and spiteful as we've been suspecting all along.
- The scenery was gorgeous, but maybe I'm just partial to rugged ocean beaches.
- The scene where Marianne faints after seeing Willoughby, and is caught by Colonel Brandon, and then Colonel Brandon gives Willoughby a look that says, "Someday I think you and I are going to have a serious disagreement. " - I loved that scene.
- I loved Emma Thompson's Elinor, but I loved this one, too. She took a while to get used to, but her performance really was admirable. Especially in that awkward scene involving Edward, Lucy, and herself.
- Lucy Steele's sister was hilarious, even if I'm pretty sure the accent she used was completely anachronistic.
- The new Marianne-in-the-rain scene was quite good, which is amazing since the original one was so fantastic. But I thought they gave it a new enough angle that it was still very moving.
Did you watch it? What did you like/dislike about it?