PBS has saved the best for last, with their latest and greatest Austen film: Sense & Sensibility. It's hard not to compare this recent production of Sense & Sensibility with the 1995 Oscar-winning version starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman. However, this new mini-series certainly gave the much-loved and nearly-flawless movie a run for it's money! I have come to the conclusion that it's OK to watch and enjoy two different, yet equally wonderful adaptations of Jane Austen's beloved classic.Sense & Sensibility is the poignant and powerful story of two impoverished sisters: Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. The ever sensible Elinor, is the glue that holds her family together. She budgets, cleans, and manages the household, all while anchoring her emotionally distraught mother and sisters in reality and provident living. Marianne is a hopeless romantic, who is as uninhibited as Elinor is restrained. Marianne says and does everything that her young heart feels, and expresses her emotions through poetry and music. Although their prospects for happiness and marriage look grim, they both seem to attract a fair number of admirers.
The story works so well for a number of reasons, but I think the most important is that the relationship between sisters Elinor and Marianne is genuinely real. Although they are opposites, there is a bond of love and loyalty that goes beyond any differences they might have. When Marianne becomes horribly disappointed in love, Elinor is the devoted sister who is there to see her through. Nowhere is this more apparent, then in the scene where Willoughby comes to confront Elinor about his reasons for leaving Marianne, which was so emotionally charged and beautifully acted! It's been a few years since I have read Sense & Sensibility, but I always felt that, that important scene should have been in the 1995 movie. I also love the strong, steady presence of Colonel Brandon throughout the film, who loves Marianne unconditionally and would do anything to see to her happiness. *sigh*
This newest adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility is in a word: fabulous.