David Morrissey, Dominic Cooper, Dan Stevens, Mark Williams, Janet McTeer and Mark Gatiss lead an all-star cast in Andrew Davies' romantic and stylish three-part adaptation of Sense and Sensibility
It the story of two young sisters on a voyage of burgeoning sexual and romantic discovery. Rational Elinor Dashwood and her romantic sister Marianne are played by sensational newcomers Hattie Morahan (Elinor) and Charity Wakefield (Marianne).
The death of Elinor and Marianne's father throws their privileged world into chaos. With no entitlement to his estate, they are forced to live in poverty. Although the sisters' chances of marriage seem doomed, attractive men are drawn to the girls.
Elinor becomes attached to the highly eligible Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens - The Line of Beauty) - but why is he so guarded and secretive? Marianne attracts both war hero Colonel Brandon (David Morrisey - State of Play) and glamorous Willoughby, played by Dominic Cooper (The History Boys).
Do these attachments represent true love, or are the men simply amusing ourselves with our young heroines? With a sub-plot that features the seduction and abandonment of a 15-year old schoolgirl - not to mention a duel - the stakes are high.
Multi-award winning writer Andrew Davies (Bleak House and Pride and Prejudice) says, "The novel is as much about sex and money as social conventions. This drama is more overtly sexual than most previous Austen adaptations seen on screen and gets to grips with the dark underbelly of the book."
Kate Harwood, Head of Series and Serials adds, "It's a passionate and powerful piece, filled with a rich mix of both emerging and established talent. With Andrew's fairydust sprinkled over it, this production is destined to evolve into a classic."
Filmed on location in Berkshire, Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Devon, Sense and Sensibility is directed by John Alexander and produced by Anne Pivcevic.
Known for his artful and sometimes controversial costume drama adaptations, it's not surprising that screenwriter Andrew Davies is equally as playful and outspoken explaining his work as he is doing it.
ANDREW DAVIES TALKS ABOUT SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Approach to beginning an adaptation
Generally I'm thinking: how does this scene advance the story? What does it reveal about the characters? Is there an essential "key line" in it? And as this is a visual medium, I'm often looking for ways in which the feeling or the meaning can be carried by a look, or an action, rather than the spoken word. But yes, different books, even by the same author, have different moods and rhythms. Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice are very speedy and sparky, while Persuasion is much more sedate, almost melancholy.
Austen finding true love
She certainly had a sharp tongue and didn't suffer fools gladly, but she was very attractive in her youth, and very flirty. Her real trouble was shat she had no money, so Tom Lefroy (with whom she did have a love affair) couldn't afford to marry her (no doubt the same for other young men). She was made an offer by one wealthy chap, and she accepted, only to change her mind the next day.
Deciding which scenes to include in an adaptation
There are a number of scenes which are essential if the story is to make sense and make an impact. And then I tend to choose my own favorite little moments, and not worry about other people's favorite bits. They can always read the book again! Selfish, I know, but there you go.
Screenwriter role in casting?
I don't usually think about particular actors when I'm writing a script, though I have a clear visual picture in my mind. I generally start thinking about casting when the script is complete, and I do make suggestions, and some but not all of them are successful. One of the nice things about Jane Austen is that her heroines are so young (around 20, most of them) that we can cast fresh talent, straight out of drama school, and I love being able to launch careers like that.
Fate of characters after the books end
I think Austen foresaw a happy marriage -- lots of clever, active children. Pemberley is a long way from Hertfordshire, so they wouldn't need to see too much of the Bennett family. Ditto Lady Catherine. Darcy would probably have to bail Wickham out financially at least once more.
Influenced by Sense and Sensibility theatrical movie?
I liked the movie, but I thought that it (and indeed the book) had weaknesses, particularly to do with the men who get the girls. Edward is dull in the book, and weedy and ineffectual and silly in the film. And Colonel Brandon is so underwritten in the book and such a shadowy presence in the film that it's hard to see how Marianne would turn from Willoughby and come to love Colonel Brandon. So I did a lot of work on the men. Also, Emma Thompson junked the back story in which Willoughby seduces Brandon's ward and gets her pregnant, so I thought, "We have to foreground this." Apart from that, I looked at the movie several times to make sure that there was nothing in my script that was in the movie, but not in the book
THE ART OF ADAPTATION