Throughout the film “Sense and Sensibility,” the use of body language, music, weather, and color, are clearly presented to the audience. The film is “a spirited and moving look at social mores and how disparate personalities dealt with them in early 19th century England” (Leonard Matlin). What makes the film the type that Matlin describes is the skillful use of the key elements.
An example of the elements of body language and weather is shown in the scene when John Willoughby comes to the Dashwood house to pay his respect to Marianne, who is Elinor’s sister, after she had fallen the day before and “received particular spirit from his exterior attractions” (Austen 36). At the beginning of this scene, the weather is calm and the sky is bright. The chirping of birds is heard in the background, making the audience aware that it is a peaceful summer afternoon. The weather hints at a sentimental and peaceful time in the sister’s life and gives us the impression of an exciting scene to come. Before Willoughby arrives at the house, the girls are all preparing by dressing up, cleaning the house, and making sure their hair and face look presentable and intriguing.
They see Willoughby as “a young man of good abilities, quick imagination, lively spirits, and open, affectionate manners,” (Austen 41) which is why they are working so hard to look decent for him. When they hear that he is walking up to the door, they are smiling and becoming anxious. As he finally walks into the house, the girls greet him at the same time with huge smiles. The actors do an incredible job of displaying their body language and facial expressions through movements and hand motions. Facial expressions are very prominent at this moment because the Dashwoods are not always smiling and cheerful, but at this exact moment, the audience can tell that they are eager and looking forward to what lays ahead. In this scene, Marianne is more excited to see Willoughby than she is Colonel Brandon.
This is clear by the way she acts so underwhelmed at the sight of Brandon’s flowers, and then how surprised she is by Willoughby’s flowers even though it is clear that he had merely picked the flowers from a garden. She places Colonel Brandon’s flowers on the table, but then insists to have Willoughby’s flowers right next to her on the ledge. Through her body language and facial expressions, it is easy to see which man she is favoring and more intrigued by. Another scene in the movie that presents the elements of music and color is when Mrs. Jennings tells Marianne and Elinor that Edward Ferris is engaged to Lucy Steele.
At the beginning of this scene, as Mrs. Jennings is running to the Dashwood house to tell them the news, there is music playing in the background that sounds very rushed and uneasy, which implies that there will be an important discovery or rumor. The colors are very blunt and dark, and both the sisters are wearing dull colored dresses, making the moment perfect because Elinor is grief-stricken and Marianne is confused and frustrated. After Mrs.
Jennings tells the girls the news and leaves, Elinor “ into violent hysterics immediately” (Austen 217), astounded to finally hear that the engagement is real. This scene is quite fast, but it is played out very well with the music choice at the beginning and the colors that the girls are wearing. Because of the presentation of these elements, the audience is able to recognize the grief and sorrow of the girls and can interpret the situation clearly. From the very beginning, the suspenseful music helped put the scene into play and made Mrs.
Jennings’ actions more dramatic and sudden. In turn, the colors become all the more powerful in scenes that are tense and tragic. They help to bring together the emotional aspect of the scene and make known the grief that each girl is feeling. With dark colors we know it is not a pleasant time but more of a troubled, upset time.
With light colors on the other hand, it is easy to predict happiness and joy. At this point, Marianne begins to cry and Elinor is the one to comfort her. Elinor unselfishly puts aside her emotions to comfort Marianne. The final scene includes elements of color, weather, and music. As Marianne takes a walk in the garden she is wearing a dark colored dress with a grey cardigan.
During this whole scene, sorrowful and gentle music is played, giving the audience the feeling of grief and gratitude for Marianne. At the very beginning we can tell that Marianne is on a walk to clear her head and we also notice that she is sad and lonely by her dark colored clothes and the sad music. The weather is very dark and cloudy as it starts to thunder and lightning, then eventually starts pouring rain. This symbolizes the sadness Marianne is feeling about Willoughby and her broken heart. While walking up the hill towards Willoughby’s house, the wind and rain start to pick up and Marianne is soaking wet. When she reaches the top and sees Willoughby’s house, she “cries out the Shakespearean love sonnet that she and Willoughby had bonded over when they first met: ‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds/ Admit impediments.
Love is not love/ Which alters when it alteration finds, /Or bends with the remover to remove: /O no! t is an ever-fixed mark /That looks on tempests and is never shaken; /It is the star to every wandering bark, /Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. /Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks /Within his bending sickle’s compass come: /Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, /But bears it out even to the edge of doom. /If this be error and upon me proved, /I never writ, nor no man ever loved. ’ –William Shakespeare” (Shakespeare’s Sonnets) . This whole scene is very dramatic because in the end, Colonel Brandon comes to save her and carries her back to the house through the rain.
This resembles the beginning of the film when Willoughby had saved Marianne in the rain and carried her to her house. This time Colonel Brandon is not only saving her from the cruel harsh weather, but from Willoughby and what he has done to her. When Marianne first met Willoughby, it was raining and then when their relationship ends it is also raining. This rain symbolizes a bad relationship and proves that nothing was ever to work out between them two. Colonel Brandon and Marianne on the other hand always receive beautiful sunny weather and we can tell that he genuinely likes Marianne for who she is. Willoughby leaves Marianne for money and lives a life of sorrow and regret while Colonel Brandon does not worry about the money situation but stays with her through it all, proving that “is regard for her infinitely anything that Willoughby ever felt or feigned” (Austen 285), and they are blessed with happiness and good fortune.
Body language, music, weather, and color can all play an important role while developing a film. Each element carries on its own characteristic and brings the film to life. Three Separate Passages AnalyzedJane Austen’s writings are so vivid with her characters and storyline, that it is hard to portray her words accurately enough in a film. Emma Thompson on the other hand does an excellent job of doing so and is idolized for her hard work in creating this screenplay. Emma Thompson thoroughly thought about the actors who were to play what character in the film.
Hiring actors to play what role was the most difficult and in “sing an actor whose traits would be recognized and understood by the audience, seems exactly what Emma Thompson intended to do. Her purpose was to make a film out of the novel with the characteristics of a film” (Ferras Wolwacz). For In the last passage of the book, Elinor and Edward Ferris marry and then later on Marianne and Colonel Brandon marry as well. In the film, this was seen as a joint wedding and not two separate weddings, described “with Colonel Brandon and Marianne’s triumphant emergence from the church, with Elinor and Edward following them, already married” (Stovel). The book displays the ending very well and more realistic than the film depicts it.
From the moment Edward arrives at the cottage, there is a palpable sense of suspense. As the scene unfolds, Edward declares his love and Elinor accepts amidst tears of joy. The happiness that the characters experience is so real and powerful. Throughout the book, we read detailed descriptions about thoughts and feelings that we cannot experience by just watching the movie.
Mrs. Jennings at one point says that Elinor and Edward are “one of the happiest couples in the world” (Austen 318), a feeling that is not expressed in the movie and that the audience must interpret either through the facial expressions, or not at all. Marianne is depicted throughout the novel with excessive sensibility and spontaneity. Marianne is in love with Willoughby and idealizes him. After he painfully breaks her heart, she realizes her misjudgment of Willoughby, has a change of heart, and marries Colonel Brandon.
Jane Austen writes that Marianne “was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions and to counteract by her conduct her most favorite maxims” (Austen 322). This passage explains that life always has it turns on people and Marianne had to realize who her true love was, and who she actually wanted to be with for the rest of her life. The very end of the film ends with money-Colonel Brandon tossing coins in the air from the carriage. At the top of the hill is Willoughby looking over the wedding ceremony in hatred and regret for his misbehavior and thinking that he might have been happy and rich (Stovel).
In the book; however, Willoughby tries to seek forgiveness from Marianne for what he has done and he does not get the forgiveness he is looking for. Subsequently, he is unable to “hear of her marriage without a pang” (Austen 322). Willoughby goes on to live in punishment and “believing that had he behaved with honor toward Marianne, he might once be happy and rich” (Austen 323). Another passage in the book that is not seen in the film is when Marianne sees Edwards promise ring to Lucy Steele. The ring is a promise ring between Edward and Lucy but neither Marianne nor Elinor know this; “his hand passed so directly before her as to make a ring, with a plant of hair in the centre, very conspicuous on one of his fingers” (Austen 83).
She begins to ask questions but realizes the awkwardness is heavy, “Edward’s embarrassment lasted some time” (Austen 83), and quickly picks a new subject of interest. Elinor, very quietly and for the rest of dinner will “catch every opportunity of eyeing the hair and of satisfying herself, beyond all doubt, that it was exactly the shade of her own” (Austen 83). Edward lying about the ring and piece of hair is in respect for his engagement and for the protection against the Dashwood sisters (Watson). Elinor has qualities of sense, “reason, restraint, social responsibility, and a clear-headed concern for the welfare of others” (sparknotes) and shows this with her struggle to conceal her regards with Edward Ferris. Whereas Marianne has qualities of sensibility, “emotion, spontaneity, impulsiveness, and rapturous devotion” (sparknotes), and represents this by her open regards for Willoughby. These two qualities show a use of revelry in the value system, with “sense leading the mind to exercise prudence and ordered reason and sensibility relying on the intrinsic goodness of the emotions to provide moral direction” (Watson).
The way each girl shows their love for these men, and their “attitudes toward the men they love, and how to express that love, reflect their opposite temperaments” (sparknotes) and really brings out each girl’s sense and sensibility. Edward’s moral development occurs gradually “from this initial stasis to a period of compulsory action as the revelation of his engagement to Lucy Steele forces him to reject his own dreams of happiness and his family’s ambitions for him in order to preserve his honor” (Watson). Edward ignores both sense and sensibility until he is freed from his engagement with Lucy Steel and rushes to propose to Elinor. This proposal unites sense and sensibility suggesting that “neither sense nor sensibility is independently adequate as a moral guide.
Rather, happiness depends on one’s ability to balance these two qualities in the exercise of independent action” (Watson). A healthy marriage will guide Edward’s mutual improvement whereas an unhealthy relationship will result in a reversal of that improvement (Watson). Lastly, another passage in the book which is different in the film that can “add a deeper, visual understanding of the story, particularly within the theme of sensibility” (PerkAlert) is when Willoughby rescues Marianne in the rain. In general, Marianne is walking with her younger sister and it begins to rain and Marianne falls down and cannot get back up.
Fortunately, Willoughby is nearby and aids her. In the novel, Willoughby rescues Marianne on foot, “ gentleman carrying a gun, with two pointers playing round him, was passing up the hill and within a few yards of Marianne when her accident happened. He put down his gun and ran to her assistance” (Austen 35). In the movie, Willoughby is riding up on a white horse to rescue Marianne; this dramatic scene “is one of the movie’s vivid representations of Marianne’s thematic sensibility.
Additionally, Margaret is almost “trampled” when the horse rears up, which seems to foreshadow how Willoughby later tramples Marianne’s heart with his betrayal” (PerkAlert). The movies portrayal of Willoughby and his horse represents the novels reference of Queen Mab, “ut Marianne, the horse is still yours, though you cannot use it now. I shall keep it only till you can claim it. When you leave Barton to form your own establishment in a more lasting home, Queen Mab shall receive you” (Austen 50). Marianne had to decline however in failure that their family could not afford the upkeep of a horse. The name Queen Mab “is an allusion to the imaginary “fairies’ midwife” from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, who rides her chariot across lovers’ brains to produce tantalizing dreams.
Yet, these dreams, according to Mercutio, are “begot of nothing but fantasy” and are “more inconstant than the wind” (Act I, Scene iv)” (PerkAlert). With this evidence, the horse can very well represent Marianne’s relationship with Willoughby and how it is “a perfect fantasy that Marianne will never have” (PerkAlert). Toward the end of the film there is another rescue scene, but this time between Marianna and Colonel Brandon. Marianne steals away for a walk and gets caught in the rain, but continues to walk toward Willoughby’s estate and mourn the loss of her lover. Brandon must rescue Marianne, who’s senseless with sorrow. This scene is much simpler in the book, “there is no grief-stricken call out to Willoughby in the rain or dramatic rescue by Brandon” (PerkAlert), Marianna just takes several walks in the evening.
The film effectively sums up Marianne’s suffering over Willoughby in one sense while in the novel. Marianne’s heart ache seems to last much longer. The act of Brandon saving Marianne in this final scene “labels Colonel Brandon as Marianne’s rescuer” (PerkAlert). This label is not in the book, but brings meaning to the film as it “draws visual romantic attention to Colonel Brandon’s unwavering love for Marianne” (PerkAlert).
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