I’ll admit it, I was skeptical. After all, I was practically raised on the brilliant 1995 Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson. How could this BBC miniseries match that? Did you SEE the actor they picked to play Willoughby? But I reluctantly agreed to watch it and ate every one of my cynical thoughts. I still love the 1995 film, but this miniseries had several things that portrayed the original story better.
The main actresses are great in their roles, showing Elinor’s emotion under her reserve and Marianne’s serious side under her emotions. They acted like real girls and sisters, and I had more sympathy for their decisions and thought processes. They also look the right ages according to the novel. While I still think they could have picked someone a little better looking for Willoughby to portray how he instantly charmed Marianne, I appreciate how it didn’t downplay Willoughby’s unpleasant side. You understand how flawed he is, especially through how it pays more attention to the girl he seduced and then abandoned. The movie version barely touches on that, making Willoughby out to be a charming, misunderstood lover of poetry who had no money, and not a notorious rake.
Then there is my favorite Jane Austen hero of all time, Colonel Brandon. I still love Alan Rickman, but David Morrisey’s portrayal of a gentle, retired soldier with a streak of righteous anger blew me away. I love how he doesn’t say much, but communicates his love for Marianne through a silent language of actions. Listening intently to her playing piano, bringing her sheet music, opening his home to her, and giving death glares to Willoughby is how he shows her he cherishes her.
Finally, the pacing of the miniseries is excellent. There are long periods of waiting in Marianne and Elinor’s love lives. The miniseries shows this through scenes of them staring out the window and taking walks along the beautiful seaside. In between the plot points, these quiet scenes give the viewer time to breathe and process, something a film has a hard time doing right.
I have many other things I love about it, (the score! the DUEL! the costumes!) but I hope the little I shared encourages you to try this miniseries yourself some quiet Sunday afternoon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hanna Judith is a Christian and small town librarian who loves babies, books, and the BBC.