Sense and Sensibility

Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) 1-Columbia Tristar Teaser
Running Time 131 minutes Commentary Tracks None
RSDL/Flipper No/No Other Extras None
Region 4    
Distributor Columbia Tristar    
RRP $34.95    

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (MPEG 5.1)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1    
Macrovision Yes    
Subtitles English 

Plot Synopsis

    Sense and Sensibility is Emma Thompson's adaptation of Jane Austen's novel of the same name. The movie tells the story of the Dashwoods, Elinor (Emma Thompson), Maryanne (Kate Winslett) and Margaret (Emilie Francois). Mrs Dashwood's husband dies, and leaves everything to his son from a previous marriage, John Ferris. This leaves the Dashwoods somewhat skint of funds.

    John visits the Dashwoods at their country estate with his sister, Fanny (Harriet Walter) who is a very unpleasant person. Edward Ferris (Hugh Grant, perpetually acting as if he is either choking on his neckerchief or acutely constipated) shows up, and quite fancies Elinor.

    The Dashwoods move to Barton and meet their cousins, Sir John (Robert Hardy) who is widowed, and his mother-in-law Mrs Jennings (Elizabeth Spriggs). Both Sir John and his mother-in-law are very down-to-earth and unassuming individuals who obviously enjoy having fun. They also get to meet Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) who fancies Maryanne. Unfortunately, Maryanne does not fancy the Colonel as he is quite staid and boring, and Maryanne is vivacious and full of life.

    Maryanne meets John Willoughby (Greg Wise) as the result of an accident, and falls head-over-heels in love with him. Unfortunately, Willoughby turns out to be a major rat fink.

    Meanwhile, Lucy (Imogen Stubbs) gets to meet the Dashwoods, and unfortunately confides to Elinor that Edward is engaged to her, and has been for some time.

    Hmmm, let's summarize; Brandon loves Maryanne. Maryanne loves Willoughby. Willoughby is a cad. Edward loves Elinor but is engaged to Lucy. Fanny doesn't like Lucy OR Elinor. I hear the strains of the theme from "Soap" in the background.

    Believe it or not, there is actually a happy outcome to all of this. The screenplay is very entertaining, though you do have to concentrate to understand the various characters involved and their complicated relationships. This is a very British story, and a wickedly witty one at that.

Transfer Quality


    This is a somewhat problematic DVD transfer, especially for the first 30 minutes or so. After this, the transfer quality settles down and is much better. The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was usually clear and sharp, but there were a number of times during the movie that it appeared somewhat blurred. Shadow detail was usually good, but was not good during the first 30 minutes of the movie.

    The colour was problematic. At times, it appeared washed out. At other times, it appeared oversaturated. Once again, the balance seemed to settle in the latter part of the movie, but this was a significant problem with this transfer.

    No definite MPEG artefacts were seen, though I did note some slight break-up of grassy scenes at times. Early on in the movie, there was a significant amount of telecine wobble which was quite distracting. Film artefacts were rare.

    This is a sub-par video transfer compared with previous Columbia Tristar efforts.


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD. The default audio is English MPEG 5.1 channel audio. Also present on the disc was a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, which is the one that I listened to, and a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack also in English.

    Dialogue was a problem with this soundtrack. Most of the time, it was clear, but there were significant portions of the movie where the soundtrack was dull, muffled, or just hard to hear above the music or ambience. This is a major distraction with this movie, as it is a fundamentally dialogue-driven movie.

    The musical score was occasionally present, and was suitably genteel.

     The surround channels were very sparingly used. Rare ambience, and occasional music found their way into the rear channels, but mainly they were silent. This soundtrack was very much up-front and centre in its mix.

    The .1 channel whispered now and again, but that was it.


    The only extra on this DVD is the standard Columbia Tristar teaser trailer, presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 non-16x9 enhanced and with MPEG sound only.


    Sense and Sensibility is a cleverly-written send up of English sensibilities. It is an amusing movie to watch, though you do have to concentrate to fully understand the language.

    The video transfer has more than its fair share of problems, particularly early on.

    The audio transfer is hard to understand at times, and is mainly up-front and centre in its mix, hardly utilizing the ambient possibilities of the surround channels.

    I could only recommend this movie if you are either a fan of Jane Austen or love this movie, as the transfer leaves a lot to be desired.

Ratings (out of 5)

Extras nil

Michael Demtschyna
4th December 1998

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer