Sense and Sensibility looks splendid in Sony’s new 4K UHD release, part of their 6-film Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 2.
The Production: 4.5/5
Set in the neo-Classicism era of England, Sense and Sensibility basically tells the story of two women, the men they are interested in, and the troubles of finding a relationship while also dealing with the strict inheritance laws and the use of a dowry to determine cultural status and suitability for marriage. When Mr. Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) passes away, due to inheritance laws, he can only leave £500 per year to his wife (Gemma Jones) and his three unmarried daughters Elinor (Emma Thompson), Marianne (Kate Winslet), and Margaret (Emilie François) leaving the bulk of the estate to his son John (James Fleet) from a previous marriage. John’s wife, Fanny (Harriet Walter), takes over the estate, invites her brother Edward (Hugh Grant) to stay with them, and then intervenes when Edward appears to begin courting Elinor by having Edward dispatched to London and the four women evicted, forced to take up residence in a small cottage owned by tier mother’s cousin John Middleton (Robert Hardy). Marianne finds herself torn between two suitors, the secretive John Willoughby (Greg Wise) and military veteran Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman).
Sense and Sensibility is a rather complicated story, and trying to explain it in any further detail would provide definite spoilers to anyone who hasn’t seen the film or read the book by Jane Austen and/or take up several pages. Suffice it to say, I have always dismissed this film as a “chick flick,” and while that may still be the case to a point, I found myself very entertained by the story and the performances. Credit definitely goes to the Oscar-winning screenplay adaptation by Emma Thompson as well as the direction of Ang Lee.
3D Rating: NA
Per the restoration notes in the included booklet, the original camera negative for Sense and Sensibility was scanned in 4K in 2012, with additional cleanup and an HDR coloring pass completed last year. The HEVC-encoded 2160p transfer on this disc is extremely film-like in appearance, retaining the film’s original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio. Film grain is noticeable but not intrusive, with natural colors that are vivid without being overly saturated. Contrast is excellent, with bright whites and deep blacks, while fine detail helps to present the film’s impressive period production design splendidly in fabric details, intricate carvings of the set’s mouldings, etc.
Per the restoration notes, Sense and Sensibility was released theatrically in a front-heavy 5.0 mix, and sound mixer Tateum Kohut (Goosebumps 2) spread the ambient sounds of the environments and the score by Patrick Doyle into a wider soundstage with more discrete extensions into the surrounds and heights for this new Dolby Atmos mix. It is not a showy mix by any means, still relatively front heavy, but sounds travel more fluidly when necessary while dialogue is clear and understandable throughout. For purists, Sony has included a DTS-HD MA 5.0 mix on the UHD disc.
Special Features: 4/5
Sony has ported over most of the features from Twilight Time’s 2015 Blu-ray and Sony’s 1999 DVD releases (the isolated music track and Emma Thompson’s Golden Globes acceptance speech are not included), plus one new retrospective feature. These are all accessible from the included Blu-ray edition, as the UHD disc contains no extras whatsoever.
**NEW** 25th Anniversary Reunion: Back to Barton Cottage (1080p; 27:37): The cast and crew reminisce about the making of the film in this Zoom conference call. My only complaint is that the music seems to have been mixed too loud.
Adapting Austen (upscaled 1080i; 11:18)
A Sense of Character (upscaled 1080i; 8:14)
Audio Commentary with Emma Thompson and Producer Lindsay Doran
Audio Commentary with Director Ang Lee and Co-Producer James Schamus
A Very Quiet Man (upscaled 1080i; 12:03)
Locating the World of “Sense and Sensibility” (upscaled 1080i; 5:42)
Elegance and Simplicity: The Wardrobe of “Sense and Sensibility” (upscaled 1080i; 3:57)
Deleted Scenes (upscaled 1080i; 2:38)
Trailers (1080p; 4:05)
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a 4K digital copy on Movies Anywhere. Unfortunately, at the time of this review, those 4K digital copies do not include any kind of HDR or Dolby Atmos.
A truly enjoyable film adaptation of the Jane Austen classic, Sony’s Sense and Sensibility is a welcome addition to the studio’s Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 2 6-film set.
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