Jane Calling: Emma Makes Sense

The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013


Emma Thompson. She’s a definite acting fave of mine.  She can be oh so serious (Howard’s End, for one), funny (Much Ado About Nothing), surprising (Stranger Than Fiction), and even silly (Nanny McPhee). Did you know she can also write?


I found her book at the library when I was checking out all the different movie versions of Sense and Sensibility.  I knew she had written the screenplay for the 1995 adaptation, but I didn’t know I could read it.  


Product Details

image: amazon.com


Here are some takeaways from reading her book:


  • it took about 15 years to actually get SandS made into a movie
  • Emma Thompson worked on the script over four years
  • reading a screenplay script is not as easy as it seems
  • although it’s fun to read all the stage directions (Elinor takes his hands gratefully)
  • it’s fascinating to read the story broken down into bits and pieces
  • I “watched” the movie as I read the script
  • I better understood each character having to focus on each of his or her lines
  • I would like to write a screenplay of a novel someday
  • Maybe not


That was the first part of the book–the screenplay.  The second part dealt with Emma Thompson’s diaries while making the movie.  As a writer and an actress it gave her a lot to write about.  My biggest takeaway from reading her diary?


  • Acting is not as glamorous as it looks


I highly recommend reading Emma’s book if you like to learn more about what makes a favorite movie tick, and I learned quite a lot about the 1995 version (one of the movie sheep fainted due to getting too hot from not being sheared–they wanted wooly sheep, not naked sheep for the movie).  Oh, just a heads up–Emma is, well, kind of open in how she writes. She isn’t one to hold back on how she sees things.


 This was an unexpected find and gave me a different insight about Sense and Sensibility.


English: Emma Thompson at the César awards cer...

English: Emma Thompson at the César awards ceremony. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Jane Calling: Some Adaptations Make No Sense (or Sensibility)

English: Sense and Sensibility, (Jane Austen n...

English: Sense and Sensibility, (Jane Austen novel) ch 29 : Elinor read with great indignation Willoughby’s letter Français : Sense and Sensibility, (Jane Austen) Ch. 29 (illustration N° 14) Elinor découvre avec indignation le contenu de la lettre envoyée par Willoughby à Marianne, après leur rencontre au bal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Continuing on with my Sense and Sensibility marathon, I popped in the 1981 version–a BBC offering after watching the fabulous 1995 version.

Opinion? Dry, blah, and so unimpressed I flipped through Emma Thompson’s SandS book while watching.

Part of the problem, I suppose, is that this is an older production and meant for television, and probably didn’t have that big of a budget.  Another problem is Emma Thompson’s version happened to be magical.

If interested, here is my grocery list of dislikes about the 1981 version:

1. Where is Margaret?  How could they get rid of a sister?  Quite unkind in my opinion.

2. Acting is stiff and wooden.  I felt like I was watching one of our high school drama club productions (which isn’t fair, since we have a pretty decent drama department).

3.  The costumes were terrible.  They didn’t look at all Regency.  In fact, I couldn’t tell what period the style was supposed to be.

4.  Marianne came off as a spoiled brat instead of an impassioned girl.

5.  I couldn’t muster any compassion for Colonel Brandon and his unrequited love for Marianne (Alan Rickman spoiled that one).

6. Fanny’s shock over finding out about Edward’s engagement was laughably over-the-top in hysterics factor.

7. Edward chasing Elinor through the woods seemed a bit too dramatic. I wouldn’t think she would be running away from Edward upon finding out he’s finally available.

8. Willoughby’s confession scene quite pathetic–he came off as whiner, instead of a narcissistic cad. Then again, whining also showed his cad stripes.

9.  What happened to the happy ending?  Where’s the wedding?  I wondered if I missed the ending it stopped so abruptly.

10.  Okay, one good thing to say: Mrs Jennings still proved irritating.

Overall opinion?  Skip this version and stick with Emma.  I’m off to explore the 2008 Sense and Sensibility.

Watch this:                                                                                      Not this:

Sense and Sensibility Poster

image: IMDB

The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013

Jane Calling: Darcy and Liz Senselessly in Love

Today is the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, which is why I am writing about Sense and Sensibility.  Everyone will be extolling their la-de-dahs about P&P, so I’m writing about the forgotten firstie: Sense and Sensibility.

In my last post, I created a poll to see what you all thought about which book is better: Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility.  Here are the results

I also said I would start my finally-free-from-finals weekend with a Sense and Sensibility marathon.  I began with Emma Thompson’s 1995 film adaptation.  apparently there hadn’t been an major film adaptation of a JA novel for fifty years until Ang Lee and Emma brought their version to the screen (although there had been a few TV ones).  To say it was a hit is a definite understatement.  Here’s the Wikipedia on it (please don’t tell Mrs. Fieldstone I’m using Wikipedia as a resource):

Sense and Sensibility
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ang Lee
Produced by Lindsay Doran
Screenplay by Emma Thompson
Based on Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Starring Emma Thompson Alan Rickman Kate Winslet Hugh Grant
Music by Patrick Doyle
Cinematography Michael Coulter
Editing by Tim Squyres
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s)
  • 13 December 1995 (1995-12-13) (United States)
  • 23 February 1996 (1996-02-23) (United Kingdom)
Running time 136 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom United States
Language English French
Budget $16 million
Box office $134,993,774

Sense and Sensibility is a 1995 British-American period drama film directed by Taiwanese-American director Ang Lee and based on Jane Austen‘s 1811 novel of the same name Emma Thompson wrote the script and stars as Elinor Dashwood, while Kate Winslet plays Elinor’s sister Marianne. Actors Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman play their respective suitors.

Producer Lindsay Doran, a longtime admirer of Austen’s novel, hired Thompson to write the screenplay. The actress spent four years penning numerous revisions, working on the script between other films as well as into production of the film itself. Doran found studios nervous that Thompson was the credited writer, but Columbia Pictures eventually agreed to act as the film’s producer. Though initially intending for another actress to portray Elinor, Thompson was persuaded to undertake the part herself, despite the disparity with her character’s age.

The film garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews upon release and  received many awards and nominations, including three awards and eleven nominations at the 1995 British Academy Film Awards. The film received seven Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture. Emma Thompson received two nominations, for Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, winning the latter. As of 2012, Thompson remains the only person to have won both acting and writing awards at the Academy Awards, as she previously won the Best Actress award in 1992 for Howards End.

Sense and Sensibility contributed to a resurgence in popularity for Austen’s work, and led to many more film and television adaptations in the following years.

I adore this movie, although I get so irritated with Marianne, I want to shake her, especially how rude she is to Colonel Brandon.  Emma plays the forbearing sister part incredibly well.  I knew, as everyone else, that she was really too old to being playing Elinor, but her acting is absolutely perfect.  When Elinor lashes out at Marianne about having had to hide her hurts all those months, she still found the compassion to comfort her self-centered sister (Kate shows her own abilities in this part).

I even checked out Emma Thompson’s book about the movie, which is the screenplay and her running journal.  That’s for next postie.

Related articles

The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013

Jane Calling: Some Sensibility

Title page from the first edition of Jane Aust...

Title page from the first edition of Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With finals finally over I actually have a FREE weekend with Monday off as well.  I’m dedicating my extra time to my Jane Austen Challenge and have decided to begin with her first novel.  No, it’s not Pride and Prejudice like everyone thinks.  It’s actually Sense and Sensibility, which is often overlooked, seeing how everyone is absolutely bonkers about Pride and Prejudice.  I’ve decided to do a comparison chart between the two.

As you can see there is little difference between the two.  I think the biggest difference though is Elizabeth.  She rocks.  She’s got that sharp wit and she has two proposals when most girls hope for even one.  There is also all that subterfuge with Wickham.

Then again, suffering the almost martyrdom of eldest sister Elinor as we are holding our breath over Marianne’s lack of decorum over Willoughby, is good stuff.  I really don’t know which one is the better of the two, but mention Jane Austen and it’s “Oh, she wrote Pride and Prejudice.”

Which book do you think is better?

Pride and Prejudice

Sense and   Sensibility

About sisters and their romantic interests ditto
Set in Regency England ditto
Money (lack of) is part of the problem ditto
That dratted Inheritance Law causes conflict ditto
One sister’s behavior creates problems ditto
Misunderstandings abound ditto
The mother is extremely irritating di—oh, a mother-in-law type is irritating
Handsome suitors abound definitely
A very satisfying ending Absolutely—though not perfect
English: Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen No...

English: Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen Novel), ch.44. Willoughby is coming at Cleverland to explain himself and beg Marianne’s forgiveness Français : Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen), ch.44 : Willoughby, ayant appris la maladie de Marianne supplie Elinor d’entendre sa confession (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pardon Me, Emily–Jane’s Calling

The Pride Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (2013)

My commitment to reading great literature (in the form of a challenge to myself) this year began with the Emily Project, my slow acquaintance with Emily Dickinson. I am now increasing my challenge commitment (that nasty procrastination problem is rearing again) and adding The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 .

While Emily and I have formed a nodding acquaintance (she’s a little standoffish, but maybe that’s because I don’t know her that well yet), Jane and I go way back.  JA and I have spent a lot of time together, and she is one of those inspiring friends that makes me want to keep coming back and spend even more time with her.

Here are the challenge details:

Challenge Details

Time-line: The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 runs January 1, through December 31, 2013.

Levels of participation: Neophyte: 1 – 4 selections, Disciple: 5 – 8 selections, Aficionada: 9 – 12 selections.

Enrollment: Sign up’s are open until July 1, 2013. First, select your level of participation.  Second, copy the Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 graphic and include it in your blog post detailing the novels or movies that you commit to reading and watching in 2013. Third, leave a comment linking back to your blog post in the comments of this announcement post. If you do not have a blog you can still participate. Just leave your commitment to the challenge in the comments below.

Check Back Monthly: The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 officially begins on Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 with my review of the Naxos Audiobooks edition of Pride and Prejudice, read by Emilia Fox. Check back on the 2nd Wednesday of each month for my next review in the challenge.

Your Participation: Once the challenge starts, leave a comment including the book, movie, television, or web series that you finished and a link to your blog review. If you do not have a blog, just leave a comment about what you did read or view with a brief reaction or remark. It’s that easy.

I’m going for totally nuts for JA level: aficionado: 9 – 12 selections.

This means I have to read and review 9-12 Jane Austen selections.  Here is my tentative list.  I hope I can make adjustments. (Mother, may I take two baby-steps?)

  1. Pride and Prejudice–the Laurence Oliver version to kick off the 200th anniversary
  2. The Colin Firth PP series
  3. And then Kiera Knightley’s version
  4. Throw in the Lost in Austen for good measure
  5. Sense and Sensibility (the book)
  6. Emma Thompson’s 1995 Sense and Sensibility version (yay–I’ve been meaning to watch it again!)
  7. The 1981 BBC Sense and Sensibility
  8. The BBC 2008 Sense and Sensibility
  9. Jane Regrets–a BBC production about the supposed regrets JA might have had in regards to her love life
  10. The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries by Emma Thompson (didn’t know this existed!)
  11. The Lake House (because the movie revolves around the plot of Persuasion and even uses the book as the metaphorical prop–haha how is that use this week’s literary term, Mrs. Fieldstone?
  12. Maybe I’ll finish off with Northhanger Abbey (movie or book?)

Oh, I have to stop at 12?  Maybe I will be switching things around.  I did just watch the Kiera Knightely version over Christmas Break.  “And Goddess Divine for everyday.”  JA might not have said that, but I relish that line in the movie.

So, I will be switch hitting between Emily and Jane for now.  Unless I get really crazy and add in another challenge.  I did check out a juggling book from the library to go with that set of juggling sacks I got as a gift (to myself).

The JA Gallery of Can’t-Wait-to-Watch

Cover of "The Lake House"

Cover of The Lake House


Detail of a C. E. Brock illustration for the 1...

Detail of a C. E. Brock illustration for the 1895 edition of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice (Chapter 3) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

pride and prejudice

pride and prejudice (Photo credit: Apostolos Letov)

Cover of "Sense & Sensibility (Special Ed...

The Emily Project: Part One/Life–X (A Precious, Mouldering Pleasure)

Sophocles. Cast

Sophocles. Cast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A precious, mouldering pleasure ‘t is
To meet an antique book,
In just the dress his century wore;
A privilege, I think,

His venerable hand to take,
And warming in our own,
A passage back, or two, to make
To times when he was young.

His quaint opinions to inspect,
His knowledge to unfold
On what concerns our mutual mind,
The literature of old;

What interested scholars most,
What competitions ran
When Plato was a certainty.
And Sophocles a man;

When Sappho was a living girl,
And Beatrice wore
The gown that Dante deified.
Facts, centuries before,

He traverses familiar,
As one should come to town
And tell you all your dreams were true;
He lived where dreams were sown.

His presence is enchantment,
You beg him not to go;
Old volumes shake their vellum heads
And tantalize, just so.


Thanks, Emily.

I also think of books as friends.  I especially like how she presents old books (like this one is–now there’s irony for you) as special travelers from times past.  When students groan about having to read Shakespeare, Homer, and Poe I feel a bit sorry for them.  They don’t know what they are missing!  They don’t realize that all that we have today comes from the past.  Those old voices speak truths that still hold today.  It seems teens only want to read about zombies and sparkling vampire boys.  They don’t realize that these contemporary stories were inspired by the likes of Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker–old timers.

Emily: When Plato was a certainty. And Sophocles a man;When Sappho was a living girl, And Beatrice wore The gown that Dante deified. Facts, centuries before

Me: I admit I am not up on these names like I should be.  My school doesn’t really dwell on old-time writing much.  Poor excuse, I know–I should look up what I don’t know myself. I highlighted the names in blue to remind me to look them up and to understand who these people are and that will help me to better understand why they were important enough to Emily to include them in her poem.

Standouts: Since this is a longer poem I caught that Emily has a knack for rhythm or flow.  There is a definite meter going on with this poem without it going all sing-songey. Some of the lines rhyme, but most don’t. She also chose particular words that lend an old-time charm to the poem: venerable, quaint, certainty, deified, traverses, vellum.

Edith: she checked the poem and what this means I don’t know–it must mean something and I count it as an annotation, so I included it.

Old books make for old friends–someone must have said that.

The Emily Project: Part One/Life–Poem IX (The Heart Asks Pleasure First)

Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts...

Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts – side view of Emily Dickinson’s house. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Emily Project is my attempt to better understand The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (Little, Brown, and Company–1929 edition) through the annotations left by a previous owner, Edith S.  Not all poems will be covered, only the ones which Edith left a commentary.  This edition contains 613 poems. I don’t think this is all of her poems because I read somwhere she had written close to 1,800 poems during her lifetime. This project  is by no means a scholarly work.  That would be embarrassing since I have just recently became aware of Emily D through our English unit on poetry.  Instead, this will be an exploration through the silent guiding of Edith, who must have been an Emily fan.

I have decided to not  go running to all those perfectly wonderful and informative sites and books that are available on Emily Dickinson.  Why? Isn’t this all about trying to understand her works better?  Exactly.  When I want to enjoy a bowl of frozen yogurt I don’t go running to the Internet and check out everybody’s opinion and I absolutely don’t read all about the ingredients.  Nope.  I simply look at all the flavors and select according to my whim.  So it shall be with Emily’s poems.  I will sample–a nibbling, a tasting a relishing of her many poems, and with the help of Edith, who savored them long before I came along, I will come away that much more enriched.

I guess that all would be considered the prologue.  Here is the first poem marked by Edith.

The heart asks pleasure first,
And then, excuse from pain;
And then, those little anodynes
That deaden suffering;

And then, to go to sleep;
And then, if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor,
The liberty to die.

Edith: “written before or during 1862”
Me: What happened in 1862?
What are anodynes?
Why is Inquisitor capitalized?

Okay, so I had to go to the Internet after all.  I clicked on http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/timeline and discovered she had begun a correspondence with a Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a writer and a social activist.  I have a feeling he is important to Emily D. I will investigate further on him.

anodynes  plural of an·o·dyne (Noun)

  1. A pain-killing drug or medicine.
  2. Something that alleviates a person’s mental distress.

People wanted to escape pain back then as much as we do today, although anodyne sounds much nicer than popping a pill. It sounds like her pain related more to her heart than her body. I can relate to that. Sometimes the heart hurts so much from whatever emotion we are going through such as, grief, anger or love, that it affects the entire body.

Inquisitor.  What an odd word to use.  The only thing I come up with is from my history class when we studied about the Inquisition–not a great time.  If someone asked you a question you had better come up with a good answer. Relying on my fabulous grammar skills I know capitalized nouns mean a proper name.  I’m thinking she is referring to God as the Inquisitor, and if that is the case, she must see Him as having the power to release her from the pain she sees Him as giving her.  Poor Emily.  She must have been miserable.

Overall: Emily hits it so well–we want pleasure first and escape from pain and will find ways to deaden our hurts, even to the point (for some people) of wanting to die to relieve the pain.  God is the one who can release us of that extreme pain.

Edith picked a pretty deep poem for me to start out on.  This one has really given me something to think about.  The line “The liberty to die” stands out to me. I hear Emily saying there is freedom in death and that death can only come from God.  Was Emily thinking of suicide?

I may have bitten off more than I initially thought.  Emily Dickinson is a pretty complicated lady.  Maybe this would have been easier if I had come across a collection of annotated Robert Frost poems.

 I found this beautiful piano piece by Michael Nyman entitled “The Heart Asks Pleasure First.” I definitely thinks it goes with the poem. Check it out on YouTube.http://youtu.be/u83xIXliIXY