Thursday, August 18, 2011

Movie Review: Sense and Sensibility (1981)

To conclude my Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge from Austenprose I chose to check out the movie adaption from 1981.  Perhaps the movie is a victim of being dated due to being viewed thirty years after it premiered on Masterpiece Theater.  Or perhaps I am the victim, for I feel it is adaptions such as these that stereotype Austen's work as stuffy and uninteresting because, frankly, that's how this movie came across. 

Many know the story of Jane Austen's 1811 classic, Sense and Sensibility, and those who aren't familiar with it, would do best to avoid this as an introduction.  While the screenplay doesn't stray far from the storyline, with minor exceptions such as there only being two Dashwood sisters, it is is not presented in an engaging way.  It is almost as if there is a wall between the audience and the characters that prevents you from relating to their plights. 

One of the aspects of the movie I did find interesting what the actors' interpretation of the characters particularly Elinor (Irene Richard) and Marianne (Tracey Childs).  Richard's Elinor is not as submissive as she is usually interpreted.  Childs also was more believable as a teenager which I liked.  The sisters also squabbled and butted heads more in this versions than others I have seen. 

As for the superficial elements (hot men and good costuming) those were also a disappointment.  However I did enjoy noticing all the ladies on the screen were given little purses to hold at all times.

My advice is to skip over this one unless you are a true S&S aficionado with some time on their hands and a strong curiosity. 


  1. I saw this and Pride and Prejudice (made by the same production company around the same time) when I was about 12 and I found them very dull as well, so I don't think you are far from the mark. It wasn't until I saw the A & E version of P&P and the movie S&S that I started to get the story.

  2. Yet another case of the book being better than its movie adaption!

  3. Actually this production of S&S was my first intro to this story and I quite enjoyed it and still do. I have it on VHS and hope to get it on DVD soon. Yes it is dated and there's no Margaret Dashwood but I liked the fact that it didn't rush on like most adaptations do and you got more of the story itself. I understand why someone coming to it nowadays wouldn't care for it thought