I’m sure a lot has been written about this film, so this piece is mostly going to be a bit of personal reflection, my take on the feminist aspects of the film, Ang Lee’s love of Westerns and a bit of fangirling over the cinematography and music. I first saw this movie in Klamath Falls, Oregon in February of 2001 – a few months before the Oscars. My mom and I had gone up there from my hometown for some medical tests – we were pretty sure I was dying. That first day I got a halter monitor and we were really depressed. I was so ill I couldn’t eat chow mein (at the time probably my favorite food) so we went and saw Traffic and it was the perfect film for our depressed mood. When we had to stay an extra day, we took the time to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which we were pretty sure was never going to make it to our town (surprisingly, they did get the movie after the Oscars and it was probably the first foreign language film to play at that theatre in its 80 year history). On the medical side of this story, I wound up getting rushed to Sacramento the next week for pacemaker surgery and have had one implanted ever since. On the film side of this story, I love this movie with all of my heart and no matter how many times I watch it (I once watched it with French subtitles on; true story), it makes me weep by the end. It’s a rich and beautiful film in many ways. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning four: Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction (won), Best Cinematography (w0n), Best Original Song, Best Original Score (won), Best Film Editing, Best Foreign Language Film (won), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Chocolat, Erin Brockovich, Traffic and winner Gladiator. Beware: there be spoilers after the cut.
When I first saw Ang Lee’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, I had just finished reading the book and to be quite honest, I didn’t care for it all that much. Emma Thompson won an Oscar for her adapted screenplay and, when I first saw it, I was really unhappy with the changes she’d made to the story and some of the characters. But after repeat viewings, I fell deeply in love with the film, despite said changes. I think it’s really one of those times where you have to suit the story for a new medium and modern audiences (kind of like the 2006 version of The Painted Veil). Sense and Sensibility was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning one: Best Dramatic Score, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay Emma Thompson (won), Best Supporting Actress Kate Winslet, Best Actress Emma Thompson and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Apollo 13, Babe, Il Postino and winner Braveheart. Both Ron Howard (Apollo 13) and Ang Lee were not nominated for Best Director, despite their films being nominated for Best Picture. Those two spots were given to Tim Robbins (Dead Man Walking) and Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas). Lee, however, was nominated for Best Director by several critic associations, as well as at the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes and the DGA. He was also named Best Director by the National Board of Review.
Marianne: No—he is not so unworthy as you think him.
Elinor: Not so unworthy! Did he tell you that he loved you?
Marianne: Yes. No—never absolutely. It was every day implied, but never declared. Sometimes I thought it had been, but it never was. He has broken no vow.
Elinor: He has broken faith with all of us, he made us all believe he loved you!
Marianne: He did! He did—he loved me as I loved him.