~No. 1 - Sense and Sensibility 1995~
And so we finally come to #1! Most of you have probably guessed what it is by now. :-)
Well. . . where to begin? I think this review is going to be the hardest to write in this series. . . probably because I like this film the most! So try to be bear with me. It's hard for a fangirl to write a well-written critical analysis - "Oh, I LOOOOVE THIS MOVIE SO MUCH!!!" :P Oh, and prepare for a barrage of pictures. . . I have literally hundreds of S&S pics saved on my computer, and I had a hard time choosing which ones to include in this post. Hopefully my blog doesn't take too long to load these days. . .
This film is, in a word, exquisite. Unlike other Austen adaptations - such as P&P05 - there's scarcely a false note in the entire movie. Everything - cast, screenplay, score, etc. - seems to fall into place, creating a glorious symphony of a film.
The cast was just about perfect. Yes, Emma Thompson was too old, but her performance as Elinor Dashwood was brilliant - she's such an incredible actress. In light of this, the fact that she was technically several years too old to be Elinor isn't so very important! It simply adds a slightly different dynamic to the film, having an older Elinor, on the verge of "spinsterhood".
In fact, you could argue that having an older Elinor actually helps rather than hinders some plot points - for instance, when Colonel Brandon is telling Elinor about Eliza. A retired old soldier like the Colonel, telling his life story to a 19-year-old girl? I know Elinor is supposed to a very mature 19, but in the context of the story, I don't think it hurts to have an Elinor in her late 20s. (Emma Thompson was actually in her 30s when filming S&S, but she could pass for a 28/29-year-old.)
Alan Rickman was lovely as Colonel Brandon, Greg Wise was suitably dashing and romantic as Willoughby, while Harriet Walter, Gemma Jones, and Elizabeth Spriggs were all excellent as Fanny Dashwood, Mrs. Dashwood, and Mrs. Jennings, respectively. Hugh Laurie was unforgettable as Mr. Palmer, and Emilie Francois was delightful as "Captain" Margaret Dashwood! Hugh Grant was okay as Edward Ferrars, though I'm not really a big fan of his. . .
The real standout in the cast - alongside Emma Thompson - was, of course, Kate Winslet. She embodied the role of Marianne so beautifully. And there was great chemistry between the two actresses - they were very believable as sisters. Many of the best scenes in the film were those between Emma and Kate.
Sense and Sensibility, the book, is unlike any other Austen novel in that it concentrates (this is just my opinion) more on two female characters and their relationship, than it does on the romance. This is, after all, the only Austen book with two heroines. The heroes, on the other hand, are not as well developed as most of Jane Austen's other male protagonists. S&S 1995 does a great job at emphasizing Elinor's and Marianne's relationship, and rounding out the male characters in the story.
Emma Thompson's Oscar-winning screenplay is brilliant. She does manages to condense the novel into a feature-length film, while still preserving the wit and richness of Austen's prose. Much of the dialogue is taken straight from the book.
Patrick Doyle's score is. . . hm, I'm trying to think of an adjective that doesn't sound too gushy! It is sweepingly beautiful and romantic, one of my all-time favourite movie soundtracks. The soundtrack CD is a must-buy for anyone who loves the film - whenever you're in need of a bit of romance, just put the CD on and re-live the film all over again. . .
The soundtrack contributes enormously to the depth of feeling in this film. This is one of only two Austen movies (I think Persuasion '07 is the other one) that has had me in tears!
Visually, it's a beautiful film to look at. Gorgeous locations, and some of my favourite costumes from a Regency-era movie. I much prefer the early Regency fashions - 1790s and very early 1800s - to those of the 1810s and 1820s. S&S95 is set around 1800.
Like I said at the top, this is an exquisite viewing experience, spanning a range of human emotions and experiences - particularly love, in its different forms. This is, after all, Jane Austen. :-)
All this talking about Sense and Sensibility makes me want to watch it again. . . I've probably seen it 50 times, but I'm not sick of it yet!
P.S. - many of my photos are from KateWinsletFan.com