Watching movies based on Jane Austen’s novels is always exciting for many people. In addition to a properly developed plot with interesting characters and lines, the director and the rest of the film crew make their contributions and choose beautiful landscapes and views. The role of the cast cannot be ignored because their work is one of the first elements to be noticed. In this paper, attention will be paid to the two movies, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. Compared to Sense and Sensibility, a purely American product produced by Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures, and Mirage Enterprises, Pride and Prejudice is a collaboration between American Universal Studios, French StudioCanal, and British Working Title Films. Along with some differences in their production, these movies have many common features, including the genre and characters. The tone and reality of the events remain ambiguous, promoting the need for critical analysis of both. Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice are examples of how Austen’s work is represented through the drama movie genre with its critical elements of production, music, 19th-century-related costumes, and settings.
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As well, the majority of the projects created on the basis of Austen’s writing, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, meet the characteristics of several movie genres. On the one hand, both stories may be represented in effective dramas. According to Hellerman (2019), drama is a serious story about events that happen to people every day and attempts to cope with different situations. For example, in Sense and Sensibility, Edward said that he always wanted “the quiet of a private life, but my mother is determined to see me distinguished” (Sense and sensibility 1995). Similar situations are observed in modern life when children are challenged to meet the demands of their parents and demonstrate the best achievements in particular spheres. In Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte talks about her future, “I ask only a comfortable home, and… my chance of happiness” (Pride and prejudice 2005). Her life is an example of when general appearance, financial status, and prejudice play a role in decisions. Although modern people like to believe that they are free from prejudice, they do not understand that this virtue still controls their lives.
In addition, in the chosen movies, there are evident elements of romance. This movie genre proves that love has no boundaries and can be a universal language (Hellerman 2009). A theme of love cannot be ignored in Austen’s works. Despite the fact that the characters prefer different directions in their loving affairs, all of them are connected by that feeling. For Marianne, “to love is to burn to be on fire, all made of passion, of adoration, of sacrifice” (Sense and sensibility 1995). In another movie, the characters are not able to share their feelings directly and use provocative words to demonstrate their feelings. For example, Mr. Darcy considered his love for Elizabeth as “a torment” because of his “family expectations, the inferiority of… birth… rank and circumstances” (Pride and prejudice 2005). In the majority of scenes, the focus is on the relationships between a man and a woman, proving the appropriateness of the movie to the genre of romance.
Symbolic codes and conventions are used in the movies to represent creators’ messages. The offered system of signs underlines the meaning and demonstrates what can be beneath the surface. One of the features of symbolism is the possibility to interpret everything in any possible way and be correct. For example, Kauppinen-Räisänen and Jauffret (2018) explain that green colors usually represent coldness and poison. In Pride and Prejudice, Caroline Bingley prefers green clothes, which tells about her envy nature and jealousy. The choice of the brown and white environment and subject signalizes the role of home, protection, reliability, and sensation that are the themes of both movies. Conventions represent the established ways of doing something, and the chosen films have a number of vivid examples. Dashwood’s and Bennet’s mothers try to marry their daughters successfully. Female characters are poorer than their male partners, which causes men to decide and change their styles of life. Finally, the social norms of the beginning of the 19th century make people hide their true feelings and emotions behind smiles or tears.
Each of the offered movies has a long history of production and distribution. There are many critical elements of production, but the critical elements usually include development, pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution (Cleve 2018). Filmmaking is a complex process during which people make decisions and recognize their responsibilities. Everything begins with an initial idea to be offered and ends with a possibility to watch the results on the big screen.
The development of the script is an initial stage in filmmaking. In Sense and Sensibility, the producer of Mirage Company, Lindsay Doran, looked for an appropriate screenwriter for this Austen’s novel for several years and chose Emma Thompson due to her comedic skills, who then worked on the screenplay for five years. One of the producers of Pride and Prejudice, Tim Bevan, wanted to focus on Lizzie as the main character in the movie, and Deborah Moggach created a good script. In both cases, the choice of the initial team of producers, screenwriters, and directors was considered as successful.
During the pre-production stage, an overall vision of a future project has to be created. Such details as location, the budget, casting, and equipment are identified. In Pride and Prejudice, beautiful landscapes of England and the performance of Keira Knightley deserve attention and recognition (Santer 2016). Macfadyen, who played Mr. Darcy, confessed that he did not read the novel to make sure he met the script’s requirements. The 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility was remarkable by the chosen buildings that depicted true English heritage and a duet of Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman (Santer 2016). The professionalism of Rickman and Thompson did not leave a person indifferent to the story.
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As soon as all pre-production steps are taken, the time of production comes. It is the period when a movie is actually shot according to the already set budget (Cleve 2018). Compared to the budget chosen by Doran for Sense and Sensibility (about $16 million), the producers of Pride and Prejudice raised the standards up to $28 million but achieved lower box office benefits. The crews in both movies admitted that they were sometimes afraid to work on such projects because of the necessity to meet the already set standards for Austen’s adaptations. Camera work was highly professional, including eye-level, medium, full, tilt, and pan shots, with the help of which a whole story with full descriptions and details are presented.
Post-production aims to conclude the work done so far on the movies and use technical contributions to add effects, musical background, sounds, and other elements that make a picture full. Although both movies under analysis have no evident visual effects, their post-production has a significant impact on how people receive a final product. It is important for creators to know that the movie does not disappoint the fans of Jane Austen but introduces a new work with a good script, nice play, and thrilling ending. All these scenes were organized and combined as a whole story in each movie, and the crew was ready for distribution.
The choice of distributing campaigns is one of the determinants of movie success. In the case of Sense and Sensibility, Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Releasing distributed the movie and supported the position of Thomson as a leading actress and a credited writer. The distribution of Pride and Prejudice was organized in the United States and the United Kingdom. Focus Features made sure its success was recognized in America, and the United International Pictures was responsible for its promotion among the English viewers. In both works, producers were able to make their money back. Multiple nominations and awards were the achieved results with Emma Thompson have an Academy Award for screenwriting (Santer 2016). Despite the existing critiques and comparison with other adaptations, no negative attitudes towards the chosen movies were observed.
There are many reasons for movies’ success and global recognition, and the choice of constructions and production elements, as well as a general look of the stories, played one of the key roles. In Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, much attention was paid to the houses of the main characters. Willoughby admired Dashwood’s house, saying that “not a stone must be added to its walls… especially the fire that smokes” (Sense and sensibility 1995). Lizzie gets tires “of great houses, with all those carpets and curtains” (Pride and prejudice 2005). However, despite different attitudes towards places, the landscapes found in Devonshire and the houses of Wilshire for Sense and Sensibility and country houses of Derbyshire and Salisbury turned out to be perfect choices. Old-fashioned pianos, the absence of electricity, fires, a number of horses, and carriages are the elements of production that depicted the chosen era and relations people developed. Sometimes, due to the similarities of objects and environments, it seems that these two stories could exist during the same years, with its characters meeting each other occasionally.
The effects of music, costumes, and settings defined the tone in both movies. Costumes are used to underline the statuses of the characters and their attitudes towards fashion and style. Music is another source of unpredictable emotions in characters and viewers. For example, not many people may stay indifferent to the melody that sounded during the dance of Mr. Darcy and Lizzie, “A Postcard to Henry Purcell.” It seems that the characters their similar feelings of confusion, passion, and desire with the rest of the world without even understanding it. Partick Doyle is a composer of the songs and melodies in Sense and Sensibility. His works depict the nature of the events and human feelings with all those restrictions and orders. The song performed by Marianne when Brandon saw her for the first time, “Weep You No More Sad Fountains,” keeps in tension and emerges a variety of feelings. Finally, the chosen settings strengthen the main idea of the two movies. Houses with big walls, crowded ballrooms, green fields, and mountains illustrate the spirit of 19th-century society.
In general, the creation, development, and effects of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice on people are impressive. Both stories are two strong examples of visualization of Austen’s work. The choice of the cast, settings and sound background are properly accompanied by other production details. In both movies, the crew properly cooperated, showing how drama and romance genres of the 21st century may represent the world of the 19th century with all its beauty, complex nature, and imposed opinions. In this discussion, there are no good or bad adaptations but two strong stories about love, sense, and human prejudice.
Hellerman, J 2019, TV & film genres list: a comprehensive study and guide, Web.
Kauppinen-Räisänen, H., & Jauffret, M. N. (2018). Using colour semiotics to explore colour meanings. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 21(1), 101-117.
Pride and prejudice 2005, motion picture, Universal Studios, New York.
Sense and sensibility 1995, motion picture, Columbia Pictures, New York.
Cleve, B 2018, Film production management: how to budget, organize, and successfully shoot your film, 4th edn, Routledge, New York, NY.
This book is a new, updated edition of the work by Bastian Cleve about the details of film production. Filmmaking is a complex process, and people have to be properly trained and educated about its elements and working stages. In this book, the author explains how to budge, organise, shoot a movie, following modern standards and requirements, and how to hire the right people. Giving answers to different questions like how to make an expensive movie or how to find a good producer, the author creates a guide to be useful for both, a film studies student or an expert.
Santer, K 2016, Our continued obsession with Jane Austen, Web.
To create an informative critical essay about a movie and its production, it is necessary to have at least one credible source to learn about the work and gather professional opinions. This Internet article contains a list of films based on the novels written by Jane Austen. Sense and Sensibility, as well as Pride and Prejudice, are the adaptations with is their strong and weak aspects. This web page helps a student or a researcher to identify the basic facts about the movies and use this information to support the discussion and analyse the work done by the film crew.