Monday, April 7, 2008

Sense and Sensibility, Part II

I really shouldn’t have reread Sense and Sensibility before watching the second half of the Masterpiece series. Whereas I thoroughly enjoyed Part I, I found myself nitpicking all through Part II: This doesn’t happen in the book; it doesn’t happen exactly this way; it doesn’t happen in this order. I was irritated with myself for not being able simply to enjoy the film.

More than anything, the adaptation tries to romanticize the book—as if Jane Austen isn’t romantic enough. Colonel Brandon conveniently rescues Marianne on several occasions, and the film erroneously implies that he fights a duel for her honor. Edward Ferrars chops wood in the rain, clearly relieving the love/tension he feels for Elinor. Most startling of all is a rather surprising sex scene that opens the film. Fortunately, I could rewatch the scene on my DVR because it only has meaning in context with the rest of the movie.

For some reason, the screenwriter(s) condensed three-quarters of the book into Part II, and the movie suffers somewhat from this compression. Elinor Dashwood meets Lucy Steele; 30 seconds later, Lucy confesses her involvement with Edward Ferrars. Even Marianne’s overindulgence in her suffering is condensed, reducing the contrast between her behavior and Elinor’s.

The heart of the story, though, remains intact: the characters are appealing, and the love stories are engrossing. The film is certainly worth watching for any literary lover. Just don’t get hung up on the details.

1 comment:

The Aspirant said...

I'm definitely watching this version of "Sense and Sensibility" if it has a love scene. Wahoo!!