SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Review by Michael Jacobson
Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Greg Wise
Director: Ang Lee
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround
Video: Widescreen 1.85:1, 16x9 Enhanced
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 136 Minutes
Release Date: August 24, 1999
Oh, happy day for me, that one of my favorite films of the
90ís, and probably all time, finally makes it onto DVD after months and months
of delays. Iíve heard the extra
time was largely to accommodate Emma Thompsonís commentary track, and if so,
it was worth the wait. More on that
Sense and Sensibility
is a sumptuous, classic love story told with passion, charm, and wit as only
Jane Austen could deliver. For this
movie, it given a stellar (and Oscar winning) screenplay adaptation, the kind
with passion, charm and wit as only Emma Thompson could deliver.
She also plays Elinor Dashwood, the Ďsenseí of the title, with Kate
Winslet as her younger sister Marianne, the Ďsensibilityí.
As the title suggests, they are opposites.
Elinor is practical and reserved. Marianne
wears her heart on her sleeve. They
love each other immensely, but do not fully understand what makes the other so.
Soon, men enter into their lives, but can it be happily
ever after for either sister? Both
are practically penniless, and Elinor, though certainly young and beautiful by
todayís standards, is rapidly approaching old maid status in her time.
She becomes taken with the shy, charming Edward (Grant), a man who seems
trapped by an engagement he made long ago.
Meanwhile, Marianne is swept off her feet by the dashing Willoughby
(Wise), who seems the perfect match for her hopelessly romantic nature.
Itís a shame that lovely, young innocents like her have to become
acquainted with the cruel nature of reality, but sooner or later, they always
Director Lee has created a gorgeous and fully believable
world for this romantic period piece to unfold. Using natural lighting throughout, the cinematography is
breathtaking, but always supports, rather than overtakes, the story at hand.
The cast is simply perfect, with Oscar nominations going to Winslet and
Thompson for their heartfelt, fully realized performances.
And again, Emma Thompsonís screenplay is superbly comical and touching,
and radiates the warmth of genuine human emotion.
Ms. Thompson has stated that her biggest influences are Shakespeare and
Monty Python, and I think both would be pleased by her work here.
To me, this is about as perfect as a film can get.
Iíve seen this movie more times than I can remember, and I honestly
cannot find one flaw, one complaint, one thing I would have changed.
In addition to the accolades Iíve already mentioned, the musical score
by Patrick Doyle is one of the most beautiful Iíve heard, right from the
opening notes. Every shot, every
motion of the camera, every scene shines forth with not only visual beauty, but
real feeling, be it funny or sad. With
all due respect to Mr. Mel Gibson and his remarkable film Braveheart,
I believed at the time that this was the film that should have won for Best
Picture. Four years later?
I still do.
Glorious. What Columbia Tri Star did wrong with their transfer of Howards End, they did right with this movie. Freeze frame just about any single shot on this disc, and youíve got an image that could be textbook for DVD authoringóseriously. From the brightly lit and colorful outdoor scenes, to the darker indoor ones with only candles for light, there is not a moment to be found of grain, bleeding, distortion, compression, or colors that look anything other than truly natural and well defined. I saw this film multiple times in the theatre, and believe me, this DVD looks even better.
By nature, this isn't a system rattling soundtrack.
The 5.1 mix features selective use of the rear stage, mainly for crowds and
galloping horses and such, but I have to say...this score by Patrick Doyle is
one of the most beautiful I've ever heard. I have the soundtrack CD, and
on DVD, it sounds even better, bringing the music to full dynamic fruition and
enhancing the viewing experience tremendously.
There are three trailers, two deleted scenes, Emma
Thompsonís acceptance speech at the Golden Globes (a treat), production notes,
and two commentary tracks, one with director Lee and co-producer James Schamus,
and the other one with producer Lindsay Doran and Emma Thompson.
The latter is sheer joy to listen to, as Ms. Thompson is an unabashed and
A perfect movie, a perfect DVD. You canít ask for more. This is a must own.