Recently I watched the other Sense and Sensibilitys — meaning not the 1995 version, which we can all agree is one of the best frock flicks and best Jane Austen adaptions around! (And if we can’t agree on that much, why are you reading here?) I couldn’t find the 1971 version anywhere, so really I was just watching the ’81 and ’08 but they’re both miniseries so that killed a fair number of evenings. I knew the costuming wasn’t going to be much to talk about, especially not with the poor quality of the ’81 version available on Amazon / BritBox. But what about the story and performances? Sure, the miniseries format gives more details of the novel, but I don’t know if that was always necessary. It’s pretty hard to top Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and especially Alan Rickman.
Yes, I’m a Rickman fangirl always but especially for his Colonel Brandon. He brings a lot to the character that finally makes sense for me in a way that the novel feels like an afterthought. Honestly, in first reading the book, I felt like Marianne was settling for Brandon, she had the romanticism beaten out of her and accepted the nearest nice, rich guy for a husband as required by societal needs. Elinor was the one who really marries for love. So it’s a little flip the sisters do, fine, but also bittersweet. In the 1995 movie, Marianne doesn’t get the dashing cad of Greg Wise‘s Willoughby, but she does get a truly caring Rickman Brandon, and you can see his own tragic romantic past in his face and bearing, so you know he gets what she’s gone through. That made me reread the book with more insight (and, let’s face it, the understanding of an older adult and not the teenager I was when I first read it, becoming less of a Marianne myself ;).
Thus, in watching the other versions, I wanted to know, could anyone level up to Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon? Well, dear reader, I think not! Admittedly I can’t speak for the ’71 adaption, but I found both Robert Swann’s and David Morrissey’s Brandons to be just another nice guy, nbd, nothing special.
Richard Owens in 1971’s Sense and Sensibility
Robert Swann in 1981’s Sense and Sensibility
Alan Rickman in 1995’s Sense and Sensibility
David Morrissey in 2008’s Sense and Sensibility
Is Alan Rickman your favorite Colonel Brandon too?