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Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Face Off: Lex's Sense & Sensibility Take Over

It's Friday Face Off time, and I'm going to do something I've never done before: I'm letting someone else take the reins! Lex, who you may remember reviewed Jane Austen, Game Theorist earlier in AIA, mentioned wanting to do a S&S vs S&S post (aka an Emma Thompson version vs Andrew Davies version smackdown), which is something I've been wanting to do for awhile but hadn't found the time - but I thought would make an excellent Face Off! Lex agreed, and has gathered up what she feels are the major talking points, and now it's up to you guys to decide: Which one did it better?
Read through, drool a bit over the gifs and the melodramz, and then let us know in the comments which version you think nailed it!

One of the utter joys of humanity is the habit of trends. If one product is successful in its given market, producers will reasonably assume that similar products will have similar success. And so, when Pride and Prejudice graced our theaters back in 2005, of course what should follow but a festival of Austen remakes? Between the BBC and ITV, all of Austen's titles were revisited in the wake of P&P's success.

The question today: which Sense and Sensibility gets your vote?

Old school nineties              OR              Retouched post-modern

And then there are the men, but that's...well, kind of the point.

If you haven't seen both--STOP EVERYTHING. Take the weekend off and immerse yourself. Youtube had both available, if you knew where to look, but both are currently blocked. Sorrow and sadness. You will need to visit the local library or break into your crazy anglophile neighbor's house to watch either in their entirety. Well worth the trouble...

While they're catching up, those of us already acquainted with this beloved love hexagon can get down to business.

Ang Lee and Emma Thompson did a glorious job on their feature film, no doubt about it. Elinor and Edward certainly have some sweet, lovely moments that engage us as believers in their love story.
But Andrew Davies is no slouch, either. The writer of riotous, raucous fun like Love, Actually or The Vicar of Dibley introduces his own brand of charm to Austen's manners and social mores.

The Lee/Thompson project is, perhaps, more of a condensed story--one continuous thread of lonely compassion. Whereas the Davies miniseries has more freedom in terms of time and content to follow the book's original storyline.

But Elinor and Edward are hardly half of the story, and the two productions do not develop significant differences in their affair. Miss Marianne is another story.

Blowsy and romantic Kate Winslet, or the wholesome whimsy of Charity Wakefield?

Marianne's side of the romance is not significantly altered between the two versions, but the stops along the path are different. Some of this can be attributed to the very different heroes who pursue her.

In a perfect world, at this point we'd have to break to refresh our drinks and buckets of ice, because her fellows are always worth our undivided attention.

On the one hand, we have Alan Rickman and Greg Wise. Emiently worthy as the older man and the younger scoundrel, these men certainly portray classic Regency men.

On the other, we have David Morrissey and Dominic Cooper. Very different variations on "calm under pressure" and "trouble waiting to happen," these portrayals help a modern audience connect with the appeal and folly of each.

 (Can anyone find a clip of the opening credits? I've lost my head--I mean, copy.)

[awww, yeah...]

While on the subject of folly, it is not a bad idea to ponder one of the widest differences of interpretation between the two versions: Lucy Steele.
Imogen Stubbs delivers a subtle, understated performance that leaves a lot for the audience to assume. Which has good and bad points.
Anna Madeley is more obvious about how she handles her schemes and what the audience ought to think. Again, this has its own set of good and bad points.
Coming around full circle, we save the best comparison for last with the two Edwards.

Hugh Grant's quintessential Englishman is more than a miss could hope for out of her local clergyman. Hard not to love a man who is good to your sister, keeps his promises, and finds you interesting.
But then we have Dan Stevens, who gives us a slightly more tortured interpretation of Edward and his choices. Alone with his demons. In the rain.
[Misty's got this one, too. ;)]

Yup. My mind is definitely split. What about you? Which version gets your vote?

Don't forget to post links to clips that help you break this terrible tie...

[Oh, and last week on FFO, the US and UK versions of A Weekend with Mr Darcy went head to head, and the cutesy UK version won. Both are super cute, but I really wish you guys could see the US version in person, because a picture online doesn't do it justice. It's cute, yes, but it's also saucy. But anyway, UK wins!)
Click the pic to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page!
Thanks to faestock & inadesign for the images used to create this button.


  1. So difficult! I think the older one really captured the essence of it, which is impressive as it's shorter. Elinor and Marianne are both loveable, and we have something nice to look at in the shape of Greg Wise and Alan Rickman. The casting in this version is very good, and it has obviously been adapted by people with great affection for the book, which is another huge plus point. I didn't really like Hugh Grant's character but I think that's because I don't really like Edward, he actually does a pretty good job of Edward.

    I liked the newer version too. I thought Edward in particular was well cast, and also Elinor, but not so much Marianne and I didn't have the soft spot for Colonel Brandon that I had for Alan Rickman's one. So, on balance, older one for me, although they are both good, and both worth watching.

    1. You know, I love the old cast so, so much (as actors and in this), but I felt like the new cast hit it out of the park. They just were, you know? They were what I wanted them to be. And as much as I love Alan Rickman - a love that borders on the unhealthy... lol - and didn't think David was going to win me over, he was actually more Brandon to me.

    2. In very different ways, I think both versions are very faithful to the book. The '95 version is compact, but tells the single mature story that works for us. But the '08 version does a lot for the youthfulness of the story--how the big choices we make don't come with hindsight until years later.

      But I also think Davies summed up his opinion of the Lee/Thompson version in the Vicar of Dibley finale... http://youtu.be/4MQGBdnWFrM?t=12s

  2. Both are so good! And both so full of the pretty.

  3. I've never seen the BBC version, I will need to dig it up somewhere for sure! So by default the Emma Thompson version gets my vote.

  4. Damn- I've never seen the Davies one (but now I MUST), but the library says it'll be several weeks before they can get me a copy, as all are in use. Yay for the popularity of Austen in Seattle and all, but....but....*whines*

    1. Now that's just cruel. But at least they have it! I really, REALLY loved it, and if I knew how to lend you mine across country, I so would. (I actually want to figure out a way that I can livestream it for next year, for the movie viewing... Legal? Probably not. Will I if I can figure it out? You betcha. ;P )
      Hope you enjoy!

  5. I felt like they were so very different especially my reaction to them. I think the lighting people also contributed to this too. The Emma Thompson is so full of warm golden light while the other is so cold and dark as are the way the themes are emphasized and the actor's take on their characters. I'm more of a fan of the Andrew Davies in this instance which is to say that I love the Emma Thompson version too just not as much.

    I will add that like Ceri, I don't care for Edward to that is a huge part of my feelings any time I encounter S&S.

    1. Do you know Sophia, the lighting never occurred to me but you are right, very different between the two.

      Also, another thing I'd not noticed, have you seen the DVD cover (above)? Kate Winslet looks like a poodle has been grafted to her head, awful hairdo!

    2. I think the lighting was a HUGE part of this, of contributing to the overall feel. Aesthetically, I think the Davies version nailed it. It's hard to supplant the Emma Thompson version in my eyes, and I didn't think it was going to happen, but Davies did.

    3. Oh Ceri! I did notice the hair, but now I'm seeing poodle. Buahaha!

  6. I love love love the BBC version, one of my favorite movies. I am a fan of kate winslet, but i just think the newer version has all the right people and just sets the movie off grandly for me. I also like that it just seems to make more sense (obviously having much more time to fill) and just has more of the story in it for me.


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