Sense and Sensibility (1995) Trivia Challenge

Sense and Sensibility (1995) Trivia Challenge

There are so many delicious bits of trivia surrounding this film, it was difficult to decide which ones to feature. The more information surrounding the production I learned, the more I realized that there was some sort of serendipitous magic that came together to make it happen. Just one example of this is that Emma Thompson started writing the screenplay at the behest of Lindsay Doran four years before filming started. Thompson thought they might want to do Persuasion or Emma instead, but Doran insisted on Sense and Sensibility. Unbeknownst to either of them, productions of Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Emma were also in the works resulting in the famous mid-90’s cluster of Austen Adaptations.

Quiz

  1. Name an award won by this film or by one of its cast.
  2. Efford House, the location used for Barton Cottage was owned by which member of the Royal Family?
  3. What theme was repeatedly represented in the film?
  4. Which scene filmed between Elinor and Edward was cut?
  5. What issue with Colonel Brandon’s horse caused unexpected delays?
  6. What material was used to make the gold-colored collar trim and skirt border on Marianne’s Wedding gown?
  7. Who reassured Kate Winslet at the end of the first day of filming that she would “get better?”
  8. The sheep in the film were sheared sooner than planned. Why?
  9. Did Emma Thompson or Kate Winslet wear wigs?
  10. What technical issue nearly derailed the project before it was even cast?

Did you know an answer or two? Or all ten? Check your answers–or learn something new–below.

10.) It’s nuanced, but it’s there. Director Ang Lee wanted the film title, Sense and Sensibility, to be echoed throughout the film, literally and symbolically. In the DVD commentary, when Elinor and Marianne are first in the frame together, he points this out. Another example of this is when Marianne is climbing the hill that has a vertical and horizontal hedge that she is traversing diagonally. This was his “Sense and Sensibility” hill, each axis representing one ethic.

9.) Lost in Translation. Sense and Sensibility was Taiwanese director Ang Lee’s first English-language film. Prior to filming, Lee spent six months in England to immerse himself in the culture and mindset. Even with this preparation, there were initially some language barriers and cultural differences to overcome. One of these cropped up early in the filming when Thompson and Grant approached Lee with some ideas on how to better a scene. Although Lee gave them the go-ahead to try their ideas, he was deeply distressed by what was perceived as a challenge to his authority as the director, since this was not how actors and directors worked in Hong Kong. Lee was direct and often came across as severe, telling Thompson not to look so old, (he meant “knowing”) and not to walk so heavy. He also reassured Winslet at the end of the first day that she shouldn’t worry, that she would get better.

8.) Is this some sort of test? In the DVD commentary, Producer Lindsay Doran tells how she was sitting next to Prince Charles at the premiere. Upon seeing Efford House, used as the location for Barton Cottage, he turned to her and asked, “Where did you get that beautiful little cottage?” She informed him that it belonged to him.

7.) An ill wind. This debacle was mentioned on both DVD commentaries. Colonel Brandon’s poor horse had undergone a change in diet that resulted in excessive flatulence. One commentary blamed a change in brand of oats, the other blamed the Devonshire grass. The day was intermittently cloudy, so they already had the complication of needing to do each part of the scene at least twice – one in sun and the other with cloud-cover. Add to this the unpredictable, loud expulsions of gas emitted by Brandon’s mount and, well, conversations about the weather will certainly include mention of that wind.

6.) I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. The livestock used in the film were carefully selected using period appropriate attributes. This included the sheep, which were initially seen in the film with fully grown coats. The Dashwoods had moved to Barton Cottage during winter, so for the timeline, the sheep should have full coats. In reality, the scenes were being filmed in May, when the weather had warmed. Unfortunately, the sheep would get too hot at times and pass out, one right in the middle of a take. When this happened, they wouldn’t be able to stand themselves back up due to the weight of their fleece, requiring human intervention to get them back on their feet. The sheep were sheared and from that point on, shown from a distance.

5.) It’s a Major Award! The list of nominations and awards for this film is extensive. Some of the more notable ones are an Acadamy Award and Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, a BAFTA for Best Film, a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama, and Critic’s Choice Movie Awards for both Best Film, and Best Screenplay. Emma Thompson’s acceptance speech from the Golden Globes (start at 1:03) is particularly diverting.

4.) What would I give for hair like that? In order to achieve the curly-haired look of the sisters, the actresses’ hair was put in pin curls using their natural hair. Emma Thompson said that it was a two-hour job every morning to have her hair done in the style she sports throughout the film.

3.) Don’t tell Rumplestiltskin. According to detailed costume notes Marianne’s stunning wedding gown was trimmed with quite an ordinary material. Straw. Mixed amid the pearls and other bits of bling, the elegant, golden edges of the collar and skirt were made of straw.

2.) Credit where credit is due.  Emma Thompson’s computer developed a problem while she was working on the script, and to her dismay, the file containing the screenplay had disappeared. Apple computer expert Stephen Fry was able to locate and retrieve the file. It took him seven hours, but he recovered years of hard work, earning him a spot in the film’s credit roll. A few rows below Steven, we see special thanks given to the fathers of Emma Thompson and Lindsay Doran. They said in the commentary that both of them lost their fathers early and that since this was a movie about women who had lost their father, they wanted to give them tribute, since their fathers had given them everything.

1.) Why must we always follow the rules? As with all films, not every scene that is written and filmed makes it to the final production. The studio insisted that there needed to be a kissing scene in the film, resulting in this lovely interaction between Elinor and Edward. It ultimately landed on the cutting room floor, having been deemed unnecessary and inappropriate for Austen’s day.

Well, how did you do on the challenge? Did you learn something new? Is there some bit of trivia I didn’t cover that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!

Quiz Answers: 1. There are too many correct answers to list. If you had an answer, it’s probably right. You can check your answer here. 2. Prince Charles. 3. Sense and Sensibility. 4. The kiss. 5. Flatulence. 6. Straw. 7. Director Ang Lee. 8. They were overheating because it was late spring. 9. No. 10. The screenplay file disappeared from Emma Thompson’s computer.

18 Responses to Sense and Sensibility (1995) Trivia Challenge

  1. Hey Diana! Now that was really fun! As for me, I say KEEP the kiss. But what does a modern woman really know about our beloved JA?

    • What indeed? Some claim to know her better than others, but in the end, even when we know all kinds of facts, have read her books and letters, watched documentaries and even participated in travel tours of places she lived, etc., our understanding of her remains speculative at best. Our perception of Austen is filtered through two-hundred years of seismic cultural shifts that color our relationships and beliefs in a myriad of ways. As much as we see the core of truth in all she wrote, our interpretation will always be limited to distilling what we can of her enigmatic character. I think Emma Thompson did a brilliant job of delivering a screenplay that was true to the characters even though there were only five lines of dialogue that made it from the novel to the film intact. Thanks for commenting Jen!

  2. Nice to find you here Diana. If you haven’t read “The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries: Bringing Jane Austen’s Novel to Film” by Emma Thompson then you should! It may be hard to find a copy, but not impossible.

  3. Thoroughly enjoyed the post. I too love trivia. S&S is one of my favorite Austen’s and Emma Thompson one of my favorite actresses so I had it all here!

  4. Well I certainly learned something new! I didn’t know any of that 🙁
    As you know Diana I’m not very observant (cough, cough) so that combined with the fact that this is not P&P and therefore hasn’t been binge watched every time it’s on tv as well as on dvd, must explain my not being aware of these facts.
    However I do like to read these articles so thank you.

    • I know what you mean, Glynis. I have favorites that I binge and others that I like, but just don’t get obsessed about. One of the blessings of doing this series has been digging deeper into the various adaptations. In the process, I have binge-watched the current subject film and gained a deep appreciation for the hard-work and effort of every single studio, cast, and crew that takes Austen on. I’m delighted that you are enjoying the series. Thank you for taking a minute to comment.

  5. Oh, what fun. After I watch a movie, I love going to the Special Features section and watching ‘How It Was Made,’ outtakes, deleted scenes, commentaries, and interviews with stars, and other makes of the film. I knew at least 3 of the above questions. I also heard [don’t ask where as I can’t remember], that the horse Willoughby was riding when he watched Marianne and the Colonel from across the hill, died after that scene. Another interview I saw somewhere stated that Emma Thompson was quite the Luddite and wrote with a quill/nib pen when making notes to stay in character. That scene with her looking out the window at Captain Margaret with Edward shows her writing with one. I love knowing the special facts about a film. Winslet nearly suffered hypothermia during the shooting of her being caught in the rain. I saw the movie first and then read the book. Thanks for this fun post.

    • I often do the same with DVDs. I was surprised to realize that for all the times I have watched this film, I hadn’t actually delved into the bonus features, which included deleted scenes, two commentaries and Emma Thompson’s Golden Globe acceptance speech. Both commentaries spoke about that beautiful white horse that Willoughby rode dying the day after the scene was filmed. The entire cast was gutted over the loss. Bravo! I absolutely love that you uncovered a bit of trivia that I did not uncover with the bit about her writing her notes with an old-style pen. I have a nib pen and it is a challenging thing to write with–I imagine it gets easier with practice. You are right that Winslet nearly suffered hypothermia after filming in the rain. In one of the interviews, Thompson talked about how they had to warm her back up gradually, and that they took her to a trailer and Alan Rickman put her feet in his armpits. That creates quite a mental picture, doesn’t it? Thanks for commenting and adding to the trivia collection!

  6. This was the first Austen adaption I ever saw and remains a favorite to this day.

    Thank you for sharing these tidbits 🙂

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