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Sense and Sensibility is a 2008 Britishmarker television serial adapted by the BBC from Jane Austen's novel of the same name. It was written by Andrew Davies and directed by John Alexander. The serial was aired on BBC One in three parts on 1, 6 and 13 January 2008. It aired the United Statesmarker in two parts on PBS's "Masterpiece" series on 30 March and 6 April 2008. In Germany it was aired on 6th March 2009 on ARTE.

Plot Synopsis

For an in-depth account of the plot, See Main Article: Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility is a story of two young sisters on a voyage of burgeoning sexual and romantic discovery. The death of rational Elinor and romantic Marianne's (Newcomers Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield) father throws their privileged world into chaos. With no entitlement to his estate, they are forced to live in poverty. Although the sisters' chances of marriage seem doomed, attractive men are drawn to the girls.

Elinor becomes attached to the highly eligible Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens - The Line of Beauty) - but why is he so guarded and secretive? Marianne attracts both war hero Colonel Brandon (David Morrisey - State of Play) and glamorous Willoughby, played by Dominic Cooper (The History Boys).

Do these attachments represent true love, or are the men simply amusing ourselves with our young heroines? With a sub-plot that features the seduction and abandonment of a 15-year old schoolgirl - not to mention a duel - the stakes are high.

Cast

Morahan described her character as "very principled... very calm, rational, cautious, everything that's sensible".

Wakefield said it was a "shock" on being cast, but also found it "really exciting" to be working on the project. She described Marianne as the sister who was "youthful...romantic...and likes to defy convention" but also found her "poetic".

Stevens said he was "ecstatic" at being cast in the role, although apprehensive at following in the footsteps of Hugh Grant who played the role in the 1995 adaptation by Ang Lee.He described Ferrars as a man "frustrated by circumstances".



Production

Writing

The series was penned by Andrew Davies, the writer of a number of highly acclaimed BBC costume-dramas including Pride and Prejudice and Bleak House. Davies expressed hope that his version was "more overtly sexual than most previous Austen adaptations seen on screen and [that it] gets to grips with the dark underbelly of the book."

Filming

Filming took place on several sites on location in Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Devon.

Costume

Supervising costume designer Michele Clapton studied books and paintings from the period to help her develop a particularly authentic style. She decided to differentiate the sisters by contrasting the colours of their wardrobes, having the "flighty" and "artistic" Marianne wear bolder shades of red, yellow and purple compared to the more modest hues of Elinor's attire. She also was keen to match the colours of the outfits with the complexions of Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield.

Willoughby's costume was also designed to reflect his "fashionable" personality, while Colonel Brandon's trench coat and dark shades were intended to make him seem an old-fashioned, stronger character.

During production Wakefield spoke of how the costumes "really [helped] her to get into character" and that they were "absolutely beautiful" to look at.

Episodes

# Title Original airdate Viewership #



Critical Reception

Reception was generally positive to mixed. Critics were unsure as to the effectiveness of Davies' sexually charged screenplay against a more modest and humble approach akin to traditional Austen.

David Billen of The Times praised writer Andrew Davies' decision to "daringly [unearth] the dark, palpitating heart of a novel too easily mistaken for a how-to manual on how to choose a man". He also called David Morrissey's performance "excellent".

Nancy Banks-Smiths of The Guardian also picked up on the sexual overtones of Davies' script, noticing how he "spotted the one instance of sexual shenanigans in Sense and Sensibility and [has] given it due prominence before the opening credits". She praised the series as "a charmingly domestic and spontaneous treatment of the story" but nevertheless "a younger sister of the lovely 1995 film".

In The Independent Thomas Sutcliffe called the opening scene "a soft-porn sequence of flame-lit skin and slow unlacing". Yet he asserted that "once that initial silliness was out of the way and [the adaptation] came to its senses" it was "pretty good". He also praised the casting decisions, pointing out Mark Williams performance in particular as "simply [spilling] on to the screen".

In the US Gina Bellafante of The New York Times called the serial "lush and tidy" but that by infusing the tale with "a certain eroticism" Davies was robbing Austen's story of substance. She also found Hattie Morahan "disadvantaged" in the role of Elinor Dashwood, and that the role of the sisters in the story had in general been "downgraded".

Brian Lowry of Variety, on the other hand, labelled the series a "leisurely adaptation" and found the acting uniformly "splendid", although acknowledging the "thematic repetiveness" of Austen's works to be a weakness in PBS' tight scheduling of their The Complete Jane Austen Collection season.

Awards and Nominations

  • BAFTA TV Awards
    • Nominated Best Original Television Music - Martin Phipps




  • Primetime Emmy Awards
    • Nominated Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie - Sean Bobbitt
    • Nominated Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score) - Martin Phipps


References



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