I watched the lovely BBC adaptation of Sense and Sensibility yesterday for the umpteenth time. I really love this version quite as much as the Emma Thompson/Ang Lee version. Colonel Brandon played by David Morrissey, gets it just right, I think, and I like the way that Andrew Davies, the writer of the screenplay, shows us little windows into his character, showing him as a suitor prepared to wait for Marianne's affection, hinting at their shared interests, and giving Marianne some very good reasons to fall in love with him.
Jane Austen really glosses over the last stage of their courtship, which has left some of us wondering how on earth she managed to end up with him. There is something a little unsatisfactory, for me, in the way this is wrapped up.
Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract, by her conduct, her most favourite maxims. She was born to overcome an affection formed so late in life as at seventeen, and with no sentiment superior to strong esteem and lively friendship, voluntarily to give her hand to another! - and that other, a man who had suffered no less than herself under the event of a former attachment, - whom, two years before, she had considered too old to be married, - and who still sought the constitutional safeguard of a flannel waistcoat!
But so it was. Instead of falling a sacrifice to an irresistible passion, as once she had fondly flattered herself with expecting, - instead of remaining even for ever with her mother, and finding her only pleasures in retirement and study, as afterwards in her more calm and sober judgment she had determined on, - she found herself, at nineteen, submitting to new attachments, entering on new duties, placed in a new home, a wife, the mistress of a family, and the patroness of a village.
Colonel Brandon was now as happy as all those who best loved him believed he deserved to be; - in Marianne he was consoled for every past affliction; - her regard and her society restored his mind to animation, and his spirits to cheerfulness; and that Marianne found her own happiness in forming his, was equally the persuasion and delight of each observing friend. Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby.
Charity Wakefield was a super Marianne - I have to confess to crying when she receives the letters back from Willoughby. I do wonder why Marianne is always depicted with blonde hair. Charity Wakefield is a brunette and would have been far more in keeping with Austen's idea of Marianne had she been allowed to be herself, in my opinion. I know she doesn't specifically say dark hair, but with dark eyes and very brown skin, surely her hair was dark too! Anyway, I thought she gave a terrific performance, as did Hattie Morahan who was perfectly cast as Elinor.
This is what Austen says about Marianne's description.
Her form, though not so correct as her sister's, in having the advantage of height, was more striking; and her face was so lovely, that when, in the common cant of praise, she was called a beautiful girl, truth was less violently outraged than usually happens. Her skin was very brown, but from its transparency, her complexion was uncommonly brilliant; her features were all good; her smile was sweet and attractive; and in her eyes, which were very dark, there was a life, a spirit, an eagerness which could hardly be seen without delight.
Finally, Dominic Cooper was the epitome of bad boy Willoughby, and in this production I liked the way you could see how Marianne was going to be attracted to him, whilst also knowing right from the start that he is not to be trusted. Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars was a little too good looking, but hey, who's complaining? I think the inclusion of scenes that Austen did not expand on was inspired - I particularly liked the scene where Willoughby takes Marianne around Allenham. I'd already written this scene as a flashback in my new book, Willoughby's Return, and though not quite exactly the same, it's very similar - a scene which shows us Marianne's vulnerability and naivity. It was a joy to write.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable production and DVD, which I know I shall wear out before too long!