Created by: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Directed by: Ang Lee
Written by: Emma Thompson
Produced by: Lindsay Doran
Other cast: Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant
Release date: December 13, 1995
Genre: Drama, Romance
Running time: 136 minutes
When Mr. Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) dies, he must leave the bulk of his estate to the son by his first marriage, which leaves his second wife and their three daughters Elinor (Dame Emma Thompson), Marianne (Kate Winslet), and Margaret (Emilie François), in straitened circumstances. They are taken in by a kindly cousin, but their lack of fortune affects the marriageability of practical Elinor and romantic Marianne. When Elinor forms an attachment for the wealthy Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant), his family disapproves and separates them. And though Mrs. Jennings (Elizabeth Spriggs) tries to match the worthy (and rich) Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) to her, Marianne finds the dashing and fiery John Willoughby (Greg Wise) more to her taste. Both relationships are sorely tried.
The Dashwoods moved to their humble cottage when the weather was cold and the sheep still had their long, winter coats. The scenes were filmed in late May, and in one take, a sheep keeled over from heat exhaustion. So the sheep were immediately sheared and later appear with their haircuts, despite the wintry setting.
Director Ang Lee originally was considering Kate Winslet only for the smaller part of Lucy Steele, even though she really wanted to play Marianne. When Winslet arrived at her audition, she pretended that her agent had sent her to read for Marianne, and her reading won her the role.
During filming, the Jane Austen Society telephoned co-producer James Schamus to complain about the casting of Hugh Grant, claiming that he was too good-looking to play Edward Ferrars.
Kate Winslet admitted that she was terrified of Alan Rickman when she met him in the hair and make-up trailer. She thought he would think she was a terrible actress and get her fired. After a week or two, she got to know him, and realized how sweet and warm he was. She ended up adoring him, and worked with him again, as her director and co-star, on A Little Chaos (2014).
Dame Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet lived together during the shoot to help them form a natural sisterly bond.
At thirty-six, Dame Emma Thompson was considerably older than the character of Elinor Dashwood in the novel, who is generally thought to be around nineteen, Kate Winslet was closer to her character’s age, being twenty in relation to Marianne’s sixteen.
There is an ironic twist surrounding the casting of Kate Winslet, Dame Emma Thompson, and Greg Wise. Although they portray love interests on-screen, Kate Winslet and Greg Wise dated only briefly in reality before Greg took to Winslet’s on-screen sister, Dame Emma Thompson. Thompson and Wise were together for eight years before getting married. Together, they have one adopted son and one biological daughter. Interestingly, Richard Lumsden, who portrayed Thompson’s on-screen brother-in-law Robert Ferrars, is her actual brother-in-law. Lumsden is married to Emma’s younger sister, Sophie Thompson, who was also featured in two movie adaptations of Jane Austen’s books, Screen Two: Persuasion (1995) and Emma (1996). In Screen Two: Persuasion (1995), Sophie Thompson played the younger sister of the story’s main character, Anne Elliot, which was played by Amanda Root, who ironically enough was sought for the role of Marianne in Sense and Sensibility (1995). Root, however, could not accept the role due to her obligations to film Persuasion (1995). In a nutshell, Amanda Root landed a role in a Jane Austen adaptation and was coincidentally asked to star in another one. When she could not appear, another actress who dated the future husband of her on-screen sister’s sister was given the role, and her on-screen sister’s actual husband portrayed the on-screen brother-in-law of his actual sister-in-law in the same movie in which she could not star.
Marianne (Kate Winslet) is, at some point, carried by almost all of the leading men in this movie. Willoughby (Greg Wise), Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman), and Mr. Palmer (Hugh Laurie).
The sheer dotted muslin gown that Kate Winslet, (Marianne Dashwood), wore during the lawn bowling scene at Barton Park is the same costume Charity Wakefield (Marianne Dashwood) wore at Norland Park in Sense & Sensibility (2008). The costume is also worn by Amelia Warner (Fanny Price, age seventeen) in Mansfield Park (1999) and by Jennifer Higham (Louisa Musgrove) at Uppercross in Persuasion (2007).
Marianne Dashwood’s wedding dress was trimmed with straw.
The wine-colored muslin dress, beige pelisse and matching bonnet Kate Winslet (Marianne Dashwood) wears for the Dashwoods’ arrival at Barton Cottage is the same costume Cesca Martin wears for her arrival at Regency House in The Regency House Party (2004). The dress is also worn by an extra at the Meryton Assembly Ball in Pride & Prejudice (2005).
The green velvet Spencer vest Kate Winslet (Marianne Dashwood) wears walking in the rain at Cleveland is the same costume Elizabeth Berrington (Charlotte) wears in Quills (2000), and Sally Hawkins (Anne Elliot) wears to the concert at the Bath Assembly Rooms in Persuasion (2007).
The white muslin dress with yellow overdress Kate Winslet (Marianne Dashwood) wears during the picnic scene is the same costume a farmhouse servant wears in Eroica (2003), and Michelle Ryan wears during the scene in which Sir Thomas asks Maria if she wants to marry Mr. Rushworth in Mansfield Park (2007).
“Always resignation and acceptance. Always prudence and honour and duty. Elinor, where is your heart?”
“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove. Oh no! It is an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken.” Willoughby. Willoughby. Willoughby.”
“What care I for colds when there is such a man.”
“Esteem him?” “Like him?” Use those insipid words again and I shall leave the room this instant.”
“Can he love her? Can the soul really be satisfied with such polite affections? To love is to burn – to be on fire, like Juliet or Guinevere or Eloise.”
“Pathetic? To die for love? How can you say so? What could be more glorious?”
“Is love a fancy or a feeling… or a Ferrars?”
“Nor I. Neither of us have anything to tell. I because I conceal nothing and you because you communicate nothing.”
“But does it follow that, had he chosen me, he would have been content? He would have had a wife he loved, but no money, and might soon have learned to rank the demands of his pocketbook far above the demands of his heart. If his present regrets are half as painful as mine, he will suffer enough.”