The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries: Bringing Jane Austen’s Novel to Film
When I read the opening line of:
“IF THERE WAS ANYTHING I knew for certain, it was that Pride and Prejudice was a very stupid book and that Jane Austen was a very stupid writer, and that I would never, ever read one of her stupid books again. I was thirteen years old.”
I was hooked.
This book was amazing! It was funny, interesting, full of Jane Austen, and behind-the-scenes extras. I could not stop reading it.
So the book is divided into three parts: Part 1: Lindsay Doran, producer; Part 2: The screenplay; and Part 3: Emma Thompson’s on set diaries.
Part 1: Lindsay Doran
In this section, Lindsay discuses her first involvement with Jane Austen, and when reading the above quote you can see that she didn’t particularly enjoy it. Her view was changed at college, when during an English oral report, one girl told of the many virtues of Jane Austen and her novels. Lindsay told herself she would then put those books on her reading list, but like everyone didn’t get around to it immediately.
After Doran had an accident and was forced to remain home and stationary, she had the idea to read all of Jane Austen’s novels, out of which her favorite became Sense and Sensibility. Being a film producer, she saw the merits for turning this into a movie; but knowing that there would be a few complications. Trying to find funding for the film would be hard, along with choosing the perfect actors to portray the characters. Most of all, one would have to find a writer who could channel the voice of Jane Austen, yet make it something that the everyman could enjoy. Lindsay put it on the backburner until she discovered that writer.
Eventually Emma Thompson was brought to her attention in the film Dead Again. With that film she discovered Emma loved Jane Austen and with the writing Emma did on her show Thompson and Doran knew that Emma would be the perfect person for the project and role of Elinor Dashwood. However, not everyone felt that way as it was very difficult for Lindsay to convince the rest of the people to take a chance on an unknown. This surprised me, as Emma Thompson is a huge star today, but then as I looked on her filmography, I realized she hadn’t made that many films at the time. In fact the biggest actor involved was Hugh Grant, who today is kind of passed over for Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, and Kate Winslet; as most fans prefer their performance in the film.
Lindsay Doran is a great writer, almost as it is is a conversation. It reads as if you happened upon her at a party and asked how did you get involved with the film Sense and Sensibility? Was it easy to bring to film? It reads really well, and is extremely enjoyable.
Part 2: Screenplay
This part is just word for word the screenplay of the film. I really enjoyed it as it included scenes cut from the actual film, along with having every part of the dialogue, allowing you to see what you might have missed in watching it. It was a fun read for any lover of the film or book.
Part 3: Emma Thompson’s On Set Diaries
This were really interesting as they are not only the behind-the-scene view of an actor, but the screenwriter as well. As Emma was the writer of the screenplay; we get to see her constant rewriting, agony over any cut scene or changed line, pushing of other actors to fix lines or say them a different way; along with her relationship with the director, set designers, producers, casting director, etc.
On the flip side of that, we have Emma Thompson the actor, who has to pull herself out of that writer role to become Elinor. Within this sphere she has a completely different relationship with the director, actors, set designers, makeup artists, etc. It is an interesting read as Emma herself talks about how she is straddling two worlds and has to separate herself from one when she enters the other.
She also tells fun stories of her and the cast, how the weather affected everything, the cultural differences between the English actors, American film crew & producers, and the Taiwanese director.
All in all it was a great read for any Jane Austen or Sense and Sensibility fan. I highly recommend it and gave it 5 out of 5 stars.
For more on Sense & Sensibility, go to It Doesn’t Exist
For more on Emma Thompson, go to A Bit Pottery About Jane Austen
For more books with a Jane Austen flavor, go to Fall For You