A True Treasure for Sense and Sensibility Fans
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Is there enough money and time allotted for a big opening scene to illustrate Mr. Henry Dashwood receiving a fatal hunting wound? How can Colonel Brandon’s character be made more three dimensional and effective when he is “quite shadowy” and “absent for long periods” in the novel? Should Willoughby’s anguished confession to Elinor be included, or will it “interfere with Brandon’s love story?” How can we achieve the perfect balance romance and satire in this film?
These are just several of the questions Emma Thompson pondered when writing the screenplay for Sense and Sensibility, (an undertaking that took five years, a dozen drafts, and hundreds of revisions to accomplish!) In the Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries, admirers of this adaption learn of the many important decisions Emma Thompson had to make when adapting Jane Austen’s beloved novel to a two hour feature film. In addition to the original screenplay script, this movie companion includes many still and behind-the-scenes images from the movie and Emma Thompson’s informative, entertaining, and at times shockingly candid, diary entires.
Readers familiar with the film will be able to compare it to this screenplay and perceive the alterations made between Emma Thompson’s preproduction draft and the film. It is interesting to see what was originally intended and how it is similar and/or dissimilar to what appeared on film. I would have loved it if these alterations were explained in a footnote or some other type of commentary, however. One part I loved was reading the stage directions, I found them humorous and not as formal as expected! “MR. PALMER does indeed have an the air of a man under siege.” “MARGARET is starring at Mrs. Jennings as if she were some particularly thrilling form of wildlife.” “Additional wealth has evidently encouraged FANNY sartorially and she sprouts as much fruit and feathers as a market stall.”
The diary entries by Emma Thompson begin with her first meeting with the director and producers and end with the final day of shooting. These entires range from stating which anti-stress/relaxation remedy she used that day to describing how many takes and cameras were used in a scene. Emma Thompson’s admiration and reverence for Jane Austen is very apparent in these diary entires. In addition, her dry wit and self-deprecating sense of humor reminds readers of Jane Austen and little of Bridget Jones too!
“Drank far too much last night and woke at 5:30 a.m. Could’ve gone on drinking all night. Quite grateful for a hangover, it provides a bit of peace.” – June 11th.
(Warning: she swears like Bridget Jones too)
In addition to her personal feelings and thoughts, Emma Thompson illustrates what it was like to make this movie: What parts were easy? What parts were challenging? What parts were fun? And what disasters transpired? It was quite interesting to discover that factors such as weather (cloudy verses sunny) dictated which scenes were shot that day. Or that it was necessary to fire a shotgun before each take to silence the cawing crows. Or that they had to be supremely cautious while in these historic homes as many National Trust volunteers were watching them like hawks ready to pounce!
My one complaint for this volume is that the image quality for the 91photographs is sometimes a little grainy and fuzzy. But that may be because I have an older (1995) edition. I see that there are two other editions of this book, 2002 and 2007. Perhaps in these later editions the images were improved? I’ll have to check it out and get back to you… My advice meanwhile, would be to buy the newest edition.
Admirers of Sense and Sensibility, Emma Thompson, and the 1995 film starring Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet, and Alan Rickman will find much to appreciate and adore in this lovely tome. Emma Thompson’s Golden Globe acceptance speech (as Jane Austen) and Imogen Stubb’s letter penned from Lucy to Elinor only enhance the value of this treasure! A MUST read!
This is my third completed item for the “Everything Austen Challenge II” hosted by Stephanie’s Written Word.