Jane Austen’s tale concerns the Dashwood sisters. Elinor (Emma Thompson) is sensible tothe point of excessive caution in matters of the heart. Marianne (Kate Winslett) is the opposite,so passionate that she might follow her heart into trouble. Their lives (and those of their littlesister and their mother) are made difficult by their loss of fortune. They are at the mercy ofselfish in-laws, though the brother of the gorgon-in-chief is the extremely likeable Hugh Grant(with w…om we know Elinor will find happiness, given a chance). Alan Rickman, meanwhile,has noble sentiments for Marianne, but there are plenty of complications in the way.
Thompson’s script was a labour of love, and is a fine adaptation. Ang Lee demonstrated hisgorgeous visual style, and this was Hollywood’s first knowledge of that extremely versatiledirector. Though Thompson and Winslett are perfect for their roles, Grant does that irritatingCharmiing Stammerer shtick, and Rickman is such a rock that one wonders what in Heaven’sname he sees in Winslett. Nonetheless, a very strong film.
The box says the sound is in 5.1. The case says 5.0. Hmm. My machine indicates 5.1, sowe’ll go with that. In any event, the audio is perfectly clean and clear, with zero distortion onthe dialogue. The sound is low key (and Thompson herself points out how little music there is byconventional standards), so the surround, in whatever version it is, doesn’t have very much todo.
Given the beauty of Ang Lee’s other films, it should come as no surprise that the colours areextremely rich and vibrant. They are well served by the transfer, and there are plenty of shotswhere you’ll be tempted to freeze the picture just so you can gaze at it for a while. That said, theimage is a little bit soft, especially in the darker, firelight scenes.
Two commentary tracks here, with different emphases. Emma Thompson and producerLindsay Doran tend to concentrate on the nature of the adaptation. Thompson demonstrates justhow thorough her research was by pointing out, for instance how the movement of the pelvis wasdifferent in the early 19th Century that it is today. The more technical side of things, though notignored by Thompson and Doran, receives greater attention from Ang Lee and co-producerJames Schamus on the other track. Shorter bits of business are Thompson’s acceptance speechat the Golden Globes and two deleted scenes. The film’s theatrical trailer is joined by those forHowards End, Much Ado About Nothing and Remains of the Day. Themenu is basic. Inside the DVD case are liner notes, but accompanying it in the box is a copy ofAusten’s novel. That is one superlative extra.
Fine film, excellent features. And any package that gets more people reading Austen can onlybe celebrated.
Special Features List
- 2 Audio Commentaries
- Emma Thompson’s Golden Globe Accemptance Speech
- 2 Deleted Scenes
- Theatrical Trailers
- Liner Notes
- Classic Novel