Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sense and Sensibility 1995: a review

Movie Review: Sense and Sensibility

I don't like either of the covers, as Marianne looks weird in one and Elinor looks weird in the other, and this is such a nice picture of everyone.*

I'd like to start with stating three things:
A) This review will likely be rambling and probably long
2) This review will be biased
D) This review will contain spoilers.

Oh, and there will be lots and lots of pictures.
A quick summary before we start:
The Dashwood family is impoverished at the death of Mr. Dashwood, and continuing at the Norland estate with the Miss Dashwoods' half brother and wife is not an option. The three girls and their mother leave Norland for rather far away but cheap Barton Cottage, leased to them by Mrs. Dashwood's cousin Sir John Middleton. Elinor, the eldest, leaves behind a hoped-for suitor in the person of Edward Ferrars; Marianne, the second-eldest, finds a suitor at Barton, in the person of John Willoughby. Margaret leaves behind a tree-house (though 13 and nearly personality-less in the book, she's 11 in the movie and is a little adventurer).
Other characters which will be mentioned:
Mrs. Jennings = Sir John's mother-in-law.
Lucy and Anne Steele = sisters and cousins to Mrs. Jennings.
The Palmers. Charlotte Palmer is Mrs. Jennings' youngest daughter.
Mrs. Ferrars = Edward's mother.
Fanny = Edward's sister and the wife of the Dashwood girls' half-brother John Dashwood.
Colonel Brandon = Long-time friend of the Middletons and new friend of the Dashwoods whom they meet at Barton.

First off, what I think is important in a good movie that is a book-to-movie adaption is sticking true to the book. It really annoys me when a screen writer/director/whoever is in charge here thinks they write better than the author whose book people are coming to see. No. So I'll be mostly comparing book to movie throughout this whole review.


   Characters left out: There was no Lady Middleton. Small and annoying, but Sir John is just not the same without her. Not a movie-changer though. Also, Mrs. Jennings lives with Sir John... but still has her own house?? One tiny detail that kind of didn't make sense (they couldn't just say she was staying with him?) There was no Anne Steele either, and I think this is more important. *Spoiler alert!* Without Anne Steele Lucy is the one to tell Fanny that she and Edward are engaged. Lucy is too smart for that. Again, not a major change but Lucy too is not the same without Anne. *end spoiler*

   Characters left in: The sisters could not have been better. Emma Thompson is a perfect Elinor, loving and sensible. She does a good job of letting us understand her feelings while not being untrue to Elinor in showing her feelings too much. Granted, she looks a bit older than 19, but Kate Winslet looks closer to 21 than 16 too, so... Kate Winslet makes a splendid Marianne, romantic and passionate and, incidentally, she does a good job being sick (some thanks to the makeup people is probably due there). Elinor and Marianne act together very well, showing the frustration they have which each other's behavior while also portraying their close relationship. When Elinor points out, around halfway through the movie, that they know Mr. Willoughby very little and so Marianne ought to hide her regard for him, Marianne retorts that "if I had more shallow feelings I could perhaps conceal them as you do". That's basically their disagreements in a nutshell. I almost cried, though, when *spoiler alert* Elinor cries at Marianne's sickbed, thinking she is about to die. *end spoiler* No matter what, they're still sisters. Having two myself, stories about sisters are always special for me.
Mrs. Dashwood is played by Gemma Jones. She is a little older and a little more, how shall we say... reserved? She is supposed to be just like Marianne, only older of course: that means she is romantic, emotional, doesn't act with a lot of sense. Even though she is all this, I felt it could have been more. Emilie Fran├žois plays Margaret. As I mentioned above, she is little developed in the book, so much of her movie-personality is not pure Jane Austen. It does not however, contradict Jane Austen and I find her little impish self to be highly amusing and fits in with her family.
A typical Dashwood scene: Margaret being un-ladylike, Elinor employed, Marianne staring thoughtfully, and Mrs. Dashwood wearing an enormous hat.

Hugh Grant plays Edward very well. Some hateful people have said "he's so good, I wish he was handsome" (*coughcoughtwincoughcough*) but in my humble opinion is very good-looking and does Edward's facial expressions and style of talking very well. He rather reminded me of Jimmy Stewart in some ways (and also kind of Dick Van Dyke??).

I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but Willoughby is played well by Greg Wise. His charm, vibrant enthusiasm, guilt, and anxiety are all portrayed accurately. He reminds me of Laurie from the 1995 Little Women in a way.
Marianne seems to be wearing a coat and a shawl. Plus she's making a weird expression.

Alan Rickman plays Colonel Brandon.

I've seen him in two roles and I think I prefer him in this. Either way, he's a very good actor, because in the one movie, he really doesn't show emotion much. Not facially, that is. His face is pretty much always a cold bored dislike. The characters are also vastly different The first time I watched S&S I hadn't seen HP, so I wouldn't have had any problem always seeing Snape, but this time around, the last seven times I saw him in a movie he was not Colonel Brandon, yet I had no problem seeing him as said character. What?? Alan Rickman can smile happily? Yes, he can, and even laugh. He conveys the quiet personality of Colonel Brandon very, very well (better than I remembered even). 
*spoiler* Sometimes Colonel Brandon, a reserved man on the wrong side of five-and-thirty, is not considered at all a suitable husband for bubbly, open sixteen-year-old Marianne. I used to feel this way, too, but my love of Sense and Sensibility prompted me to watch the movie after reading the book, then to read it twice more, and watch the movie yet again – and now I feel much differently about the relationship. It is true that their tempers seem at first as dissimilar as their ages, but watch/read closely and you'll see how he is one of the few who actually pays attention when she plays the pianoforte, and how he appreciates poetry too. I loved the scene where he carries her in from the rain, even though it isn't from the book. I like how it echoes the meeting with Willoughby. *end spoiler*
And I love this part.
Alright I'll stop ranting on Colonel Brandon, but first I have to share these:
I'm sorry, I'm a teenage girl living in the 21st century. I can't help it. I kept myself to two!!

Mrs. Jennings and Sir John Middleton were a little more... umm, flamboyant? They seemed to be constantly laughing uproariously. Mrs. Jennings was as annoying as ever, maybe more so than the book.
They were pretty much like this all the time.
Mr. and Mrs. Palmer (Hugh Laurie and Imelda Staunton) were hilarious. They were pretty much carbon copies of the book characters. Nothing to complain there.

Lucy doesn't deserve a large sized picture.
Lucy Steele (Imogen Stubbs) seemed a little less clever and a little less of a flatterer. In the book she is very smart and very conniving. She and her sister Anne are always flattering everybody, and though this endears them to Lady Middleton (because they give attentions to her horrid children), Sir John and Mrs. Jennings (because it makes them seem so amiable), the Dashwood girls see through their simpering manners and are disgusted with them. You don't get that feeling so strongly that Lucy is a total farce, or that she really is very smart. 

Fanny and John Ferrars were played by James Fleet and Harriet Walter (I'm pulling these names off IMDB just so you know). For some reason Fanny reminds me of Mrs. Elton. A lot. To the point that I went through her movie list to see if she'd played the character before.
Another fluffy hat for Mrs. Dashwood, and a black choker which doesn't match her dress for Mrs. Elton – I mean, Fanny.

Because of the length of the movie, many scenes were dropped out or rearranged. Mrs. Palmer's baby shows up at the wrong time, Lucy comes to Barton at the wrong time, and etc.
Due to the removal of scenes, many things felt shorter, ie the length of time spent in London, or how fast Marianne got seriously ill.
One thing that did bother me was when Edward comes to call on Elinor, saying "Colonel Brandon said you wanted to see me" instead of just walking in. This is contrary to the book, where Elinor begins to write him a letter, consoling herself that at least she doesn't have to do it in person, when just at that moment he is announced.
*spoiler* Fanny reacted a little more violently than in the book when she finds out about the engagement. She literally tries to strangle Lucy. In the novel she certainly freaks out – goes into hysterics, as they'd say – but doesn't attempt murder. *end spoiler*

It is a great pleasure, however, to listen to scenes where the dialogue is straight from the book. Such as Mr. Palmer thinking all babies look alike, or towards the beginning, when Fanny convinces John to do nothing for his half-sisters.

 *Spoiler* They added in a scene where Edward tries to tell Elinor about his engagement right before the Dashwoods leave Norland. I like this though, and while it did alter his character, Austen never says he tried his hardest to keep Elinor from finding out, so I think it not altogether impossible that he would have done such a thing. *end spoiler*

Less desirable elements (ie violence, language, sexual content): As far as I noticed there was none of the above. There might have been some very mild language but it would have mild for me not to notice (and it is only a PG rating so it couldn't have been much). There are a few low-ish necklines but this is what I mean by low:
Not Willoughby's, silly.
*spoiler* An uncomfortable situation involving Willoughby is referred to briefly (a girl who was pregnant who wasn't married to him). This could have been much, much worse, though, as no details are given and it is only mentioned, not shown. *end spoiler*

Set: The set was very pretty, though I don't remember them mentioning a lake near Barton??

Also the "small cottage" is really not small at all, but considering to be poor meant you kept only two servants, I guess "small" is a comparative term.

Another thing that was a change from the book that I didn't like was how Combe Magna was 5 miles away, and could be seen from the top of the hill on the Palmer's estate. It's thirty miles away, my friends, not 5. But this is a movie and they have to be more dramatic, so Marianne can't just get sick wandering through the rain, no, she has to go look at Combe Magna.

Costumes: The costumes were, as far as I could tell with my limited knowledge of such things, very accurate. In the morning, dresses were worn with a chemisette, rather like a dicky.

Notice each of the ladies has a white scarf-like thing tucked into her neckline.

And in the evening they don't wear the chemisettes. Just like our idea of what is modest fluctuates depending on the occasion (at the pool vs. walking down the street), they wore lower cut dresses in the evening than they would have worn during the day.
Margaret had her hair down and wore shorter dresses, as a younger girl would do. The older girls had their hair up (unlike some Jane Austen movies which are good but persist in having grown-up girls run around with their hair down all the time *P&P05coughcough*). Although Mrs. Dashwood's hats are kind of unattractive, married women/widows wore caps like that. I assume the men's costumes were accurate, too, from what I noticed, but I wasn't paying that much attention.
Kind of a useless shawl.
More importantly, all the costumes are really pretty (if you pay attention you'll notice Elinor only has maybe four dresses, while Marianne has lots... it's obvious who the money gets spent on).
Even the nightgowns are nice.
If you've gotten this far, congratulations! My conclusion: Sense and Sensibility is both a good movie and a good adaption of the book. It cuts and changes like every movie, but retains not just the general plot of the book, but the wittiness, the well-drawn characters, and the same feeling of Jane Austen's novel. I admit I'm biased as I love the story and this is the first adaption I've seen, but because I love the story, if it vastly (or even minutely) departed from the book I'd be up in arms. I hope to see the 2008 BBC S&S soon, in which case I'll post a comparison review. It'd be hard to beat the amazing cast and costumes of S&S95, though.
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*All my pictures came by googling "Sense and Sensibility 1995" and I don't own any of them.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

This is not really happening

As you may nor may not know – you SHOULD know but I scarcely rant about it here, so you may not – I am a Jane Austen addict. I love her writing, her time period, the clothes of her characters, and the dancing! oh, the dancing is perhaps the best part (well, maybe). I love to dance, and Regency line dancing is my favorite kind.
I posted this a year-and-a-half ago when I was about to attend a dance that a dear friend's sister was hosting. Unfortunately (or fortunately) she got married and didn't plan to have any more dances. Well, one thing that's good about being friends with this very dear friend is that we spur each other on. When she thought we should start a writing group, I had reservations but she spurred us on. When her sister got married, I decided these dances must continue. We must have the dances! She had reservations at first, but with my relentless nagging and whining consistent encouragement, we were soon planning our first dance, a Christmas Ball (mentioned very briefly here). We were thrown into the world which is modern-day Regency dancing, searching our library and our homes for music, our brains and our computers for dance instructions, and our closets for what to wear. Planning our first dance was a little overwhelming at times, since we were entirely in charge of it (though her sister did give us a few helpful tips) and had no one to ask for help. We ended up having the dance in my living room on December 12, 2014. It was a great success! We each called five dances and I think only one of them gave anyone too much trouble. It lasted three hours and that was not enough.
We planned to have four dances a year, once a season, as often as we could while still having lives, but not so infrequent as to make everyone (well mostly us) very, very sad. We'd have several small free dances in my house, then branch out into inviting everyone in the town and renting a space, asking for donations to cover that. Due to extreme busyness, we did not have a dance in March as we had planned to do, but we are now two days – Two days!!!! – away from our second dance. !!!!!
I know those aren't attached to a sentence and so are grammatically incorrect. That is simply the only way to express my feelings right now. !!!!
My friend and I discussed it over email, and I said this nervousness seemed worse than last time, for some reason. She replied "much worse. I don't remember doing any of this last time." I said "Oh, we were NERVOUS", to which she answered, "I remember being in a hurry and scared, but I don't remember feeling that the sun was never going to rise again and we were going to die."
So yes, that's about how we feel.
Because we are holding it only five days after Midsummer's Day, and because we are dancing upon the lawn of my backyard, the theme of this dance is a Midsummer Night's Dream Ball (we refer to it as the fairy ball for short). It has been incredibly fun to plan the decorations, the food, and the costumes, but in a few short days we'll actually have to do it all! It's terrifying. I vacillate between logically going over each of my dances and my list of things to do and telling myself I can do it, and feeling as though the world will end.
I hope everyone has fun. I am less worried about that than I was last time, though, because many of these people were there last time and they're still coming again so they can't have hated it too much. Mostly I'm worried about being done in time. Okay, I need to stop writing and thinking about this. I'm freaking myself out more.
Anyhow. We're going to be dancing in the grand Regency style, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post. One month and a day ago today I danced in the Assembly Rooms of Bath, where Jane herself danced. There was no grand event, just a sister and myself turning single and casting (props to you if you know those terms). And in two days we'll dance again.
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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Beautiful People: Arthur (surprise, surprise)

It is no surprise that I'm using this month's Beautiful People for my King Arthur tale (it may be a surprise that I'm posting at all, but enough about that). This time, though, I'm actually using it for Arthur himself.
Who would've thought, right?

1. Do they know their biological parents? Why/why not?
He knew his biological mother for several months before she died. His father was killed before he was born. He was not raised by his biological mother, which is why he only knew her for a few months.

2. Have they inherited any physical resemblances from their parents?
Yes. He has his mother's nose, his father's green eyes, and his father's light brown hair (his mother's hair is a darker brown). He has more of his mother's build than his father's, being less muscular and broad-shouldered than his father and eldest brother.

3. What's their parental figure(s) dress style? Add pictures if you like!

This is not a picture of his parents, but the dress is similar to what they'd wear, except that the man's clothing would be finer, less plain. You know, medieval royalty stuff.
Also something like either of these:

4. Do they share any personality traits with their parental figures? And which do they take after most?

Hmm. Gwenore (his mother) was very mild when calm but easily excited emotionally; she was smart but she always hoped for the best in people. Uther was kind and well-meaning; he was not as mild when calm or as easily excited as his wife. He was very even-keel. Arthur hopes for the best, as his mother did; he looks out for the good of others and is even-keeled like his father. His non-biological father, Virgil, was very honest and hard-working; Arthur takes after him there. He probably takes after his father more.

5. Do they get on with their parental figure(s) or do they clash?
He didn't have time to clash with either one. With Anna and Virgil, who were not his real parents but the people he thought of as his parents he got on well.

6. If they had to describe their parental figure(s) in one word, what would it be?
 (I'm going to cheat and say one word or a three-word phrase)

Gwenore: Loves her sons
Uther: Upright

7. How has their parental figure(s) helped them most in their life?
Virgil taught Arthur to work hard and to be self-sacrificing, which is just as important for a king as for a blacksmith. Gwenore gave him a new family; at the time he didn't appreciate this but when his adoptive-family wasn't there any more he greatly appreciated having his brothers.

8. What was their biggest fight with their parental figure(s)?
Hm. Again, he never fought with Gwenore or Uther. I don't know that he ever had any huge fights with his parents, none that really hurt their relationship or that they didn't get over quickly.

9. Tracing back the family tree, what nationalities are in their ancestry?
Well, there is some British, before that there was British, before that there was more British... Seeing a theme here?

10. What’s their favourite memory with their parental figure(s)?
His eighth birthday. His father (Virgil) gave him a real sword. Not a thing of beauty, but Arthur was very proud of it. He didn't have the struggles of kingship or poverty or knowing he wasn't their real son, then. It was a very peaceful birthday. The first time his mother (Anna) took him riding is a special memory, too. She was just going over to the next village, but she couldn't leave him behind because he was only five. He was too little to walk the whole way but too big to be carried. He'd never gotten to ride the horse before and from then on he loved horses. (They probably never even cantered but for a five year-old a quick trot from the top of a tall horse is very exciting).

"His name is Arthur Pendragon."

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A bit of this, a bit of that

So, I promised snippets of a fairy tale. This fairy tale is distantly related to The Glass Coffin, but only distantly, mind. The Land Where Time Was Torn Asunder acknowledges the relationship, but as Lady Dalrymple acknowledges Sir Walter, not as Sir Walter acknowledges Lady Dalrymple.
Well, you're not going to get any.

… Just kidding. That'd be unfair of me after so expressly promising them. So here is one measly sentence:
There were huge leaves the size of her face, small leaves clustered alongside the dirt path, and little brown plant like things with no leaves at all and smooth caps like the underside of an acorn.

I picked that completely randomly from the story. And that's all you're going to get, for now. Because this little story is barely 2000 words (this post is already almost 100 words) and if I shared much more I'd be giving you 10% of the story, and that seems a little much.

… Oh, alright. If I MUST.

She opened the lid.

You must excuse me, this being my first real post in SUCH a long time, I'm having a lot of fun with it (being ovvvverrrrllllyyy dramatic gives me waaaayyyy to much amusement).
For real now:
When she had gotten over her initial hour of mute shock, Jesen announced (rather verbosely) that she found the whole affair to be unjust, unwise, and unfair, not to mention rude. She marched to her mother’s chambers, entered unbidden, and began talking as soon as she sighted her mother, who was sitting at her dressing table having her hair done by one of her maids. She pleaded, wheedled, and appealed to her better nature by turns. She argued fiercely against the wisdom of such an alliance, produced mostly true facts concerning the defects of the Prince of Veris’s character, and even threatened to run away.

However unable to provide you with satisfactory amounts of snippets from my grand fairy tale escapade, I am quite able to produce some satisfactory examples of little ol' Arthur. I am quite pleased with myself for having written 4 words short of 2000 words yesterday. The change of scene and pace which took the form of a 2-week trip seems to have had goo (oh my, not goo, good – where are my words going to? Perhaps it has something to do with my cold. Don't worry, germs don't go through computers. Honest!) effects on my creative powers. I left with little motivation or inspiration; I come back with words pouring from my fingers. It's quite pleasing.
Sniff sniff, Arthur's getting so old now (I just have a cold, honestly, it's not that emotional). I started writing on January 7, 2012 – I wasn't yet thirteen. And now I am sixteen ("It cannot be!" spoken in the voice of Queen Genevieve from you-should-know-what).
This is really much more than a snippet – I should be correct and call it a scene. I know most people share only a few sentences at a time when doing snippets, but if I'm going to share something I think is actually good I want to share the whole thing.

He had taken a break at lunch and rode through Thyme-Sage with Galilea. He had seen that he was taller, and far more richly dressed than the beardless boy who had carried buckets to that stream. He had seemed to see shadows of himself: one was coming out of that boarded up house and walking with swinging step into the forest; and there was the boy, holding his first sword with such pride, though it was a heavy, awkward thing; there he trained Galilea in that meadow, and dug potatoes in that plot for his mother.
Arthur had swallowed a lump in his throat as he had stepped back from the window he had been peering in. He had swung up on Galilea and surveyed the town. However changed he was, the town had seemed untouched by time. The baker had been selling a roll to the cobbler; they had not recognized Arthur. Well, I hardly recognize myself, Arthur thought to himself, bringing himself out of the remembrance of his ride by shuffling the papers on his desk.

He stood up, and looked in a little mirror that hung in his study. Where had that stubble come from? His eyes were hazel green, like his brothers, but they did not crinkle like Kay’s or have the wisdom of Rayfus’s; they were more serious than he had remembered them. Funny that I never noticed how unlike Virgil and Anna I am. That straight nose is nothing like Virgil’s bulbous one; it is Igraine’s. My hair is lighter than either Kay or Rayfus’s, but isn’t nearly as light as Anna’s is – was.

That almost makes me cry. Not really. It's just moooooving.

Do you think he’s a criminal in disguise?” Kay said in a low voice. Arthur started a little. Kay smiled. “I don’t much like the man either, Arthur,” he added in normal tones, “but if there’s one thing you should learn about court, it’s to keep your real thoughts to yourself.”

That's all for today. I've got dinner to eat, you know.
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P.S. Thanks to the Author for her tutorial on To Write or Not To Write on adding borders to posts!