Sense and Sensibility DVD
Theatrical release: December 13, 1995.
Shot on location in England, at several historic sites, including the Saltram House, Trafalgar House, Flete Estate, Montacute House, Wilton House, Mompesson House, and Mothecombe House.
Estimated budget: $15 million.
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY grossed $42 million domestically.
It took Lindsay Doran 15 years to find a screenwriter and director for SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. She met Emma Thompson after producing DEAD AGAIN for Mirage; the British television series THOMPSON, a series of comic skits that Thompson wrote, reminded Doran of skits Austen had written before her novels. Thompson finished the SENSE AND SENSIBILITY screenplay five years later, after appearing in seven films, in between which she worked on the script.
Doran wanted to find a director who could handle both romance and satire, which led her to Ang Lee. In fact, there are similar dialogue in the scripts for both EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. Both scripts have a character uttering, "What do you know of my heart?" The titles of the two films are also roughly similar in the posing of opposites.
Lee had not read Jane Austen before the film. "When I saw Marianne on the hill looking down in the stormy rain--that's when I decided to take the job. Naive innocence. Something about Marianne on the hill (singing) the Shakespeare sonnet. The loss of innocence. That got me so much I was in tears. It's painful to struggle in the way of growing up, to learn the way the world is, to deal with people who behave the way Elinor does and still succeed in her heart," Lee said in interview with the Denver Post.
There are several changes from the book. In the book, for instance, Brandon and Willoughby fight a duel. The scene in the film in which Marianne catches a fever after looking at Willoughby's estate is new; in the book, she got ill after an evening walk.
Lee was shocked when Thompson and Hugh Grant offered suggestions for shots during production. It took him a while to understand that this was not an insult. "In Taiwan they expect the director to come up with everything. You enjoy all the authority and no one challenges you. We weren't brought up communicating--you grow up taking orders until you're old enough to give orders. SENSE AND SENSIBILITY was my first taste having to convince people to do what I wanted," Lee explained, as quoted in The Guardian (U.K.).
Lee's English, he has said, has hidden advantages. He can get away with more in criticizing actor's performances, like Emma Thompson's in SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. He can be very direct, even rude. For instance, once he told Thompson not to look "so old." As a joke, Grant took to calling Lee "the brute."
As is typical with his films, Lee held a "Big Luck" ceremony before the film was shot. He also taught the English cast and crew how to do tai chi.
Lee got inspiration for the look of the film from Vermeer paintings.
Elinor is 19 years old in Austen's book; Thompson was 36 when she played the role.
Some of the supporting characters were cast as older so as to allow Thompson to play the part convincingly.
The Boston Society of Film Critics awarded SENSE AND SENSIBILITY prizes in 1995 for best film, director, and screenplay.
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association voted Ang Lee runner-up for best director prize in 1995.
At the 46th Berlin International Film Festival, the film won the top prize--the Golden Bear--for best picture. Director Ang Lee had previously won a Golden Bear in 1993 for THE WEDDING BANQUET. It's rare for a director to win the top prize at the festival more than once.
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