Colonel Brandon gives Marianne a song that she learns to play, later performing it for him and the residents of Barton Park
The 2008 miniseries adaptation of Sense and Sensibility also seeks ways in which to better invoke those expectational texts about the now familiar idea of paradoxical nostalgia through added moments that follow the accepted ideas of Austenian essence. The majority of these moments have precursors in the film adaptation, which in turn redoubles their legitimacy as moments of Austenian essence, building up to a mass Austen intertext: “A source novel and film can echo back and forth in a satisfying way, their intertextual relationship reminding us of virtues in each medium that might remain unnoticed otherwise. (G. Macdonald and A. Macdonald 7). Extending these moments better enables the adaptation to comply with those expectational texts already encouraged in the film adaptation.
The 1995 film adaptation first bought out a connection between Colonel Brandon, a middle aged new neighbor, and Marianne, the heroine whom he eventually marries, through a shared appreciation of music and portrays Brandon’s particular admiration of Marianne’s piano performances as a characteristic of their relationship. The miniseries adaptation expands on the earlier adaptation’s suggestion to a much greater extent. After hearing Marianne perform at Barton Park, Brandon goes out of his way to bring Marianne a particular piece of music to the home of the Dashwood women, Barton Cottage. Marianne fears that the piece is too challenging for her, but after Brandon’s insistence that it is not, she accepts the sheet music. There is a carefully and artistically merged sequence of moments revolving around this piece of music, beginning with Marianne’s initial practice and progressing to a perfected performance at Barton Park.
This newly added sequence revolving around Marianne’s piano performances, while not having any parallel moment in the source novel, is still in keeping with that perception of an Austenian essence that runs through the original text. The adaptation aims to portray a sense of Austenian essence and the characters of the original text, and also supports that expectational text that hinges on familiarity set in a different time. The simplicity of Brandon’s music sharing gesture, Marianne’s diligent practice, and the moment they share at the piano together create that sense of a lost past that is expected in Austen adaptations, showing a Marianne and Brandon interaction: “[Marianne] looks up at him because she’s so pleased she’s got it right and he looks down at her full of love” (Davies, Interview Featurette). This shared music sequence grants Brandon a touch of romantic sensibility and Marianne a sample of moderation and maturity, establishing compatibility and a potential way for a modern viewer can relate to their relationship.
Yet in order to enable the viewer to relate to elements at play within the expectational text of paradoxical nostalgia, the adaptation has to actually defy the supposed Austenian essence that is at work in Sense and Sensibility. The only textual basis for this music connection is the first time Brandon listens to Marianne play and pays her “only the compliment of attention” while Marianne concludes that he has “outlived acuteness of feeling” (Austen, Sense and Sensibility 37). The sequence adds a romantic aspect to Brandon’s character and alters his stoic characterization in the novel, while making him more relatable to a modern audience. The same filmed sequence also prematurely lends Marianne a maturity, making an interest in Brandon believable and their eventual marriage a satisfying one rather than a marriage with Marianne as a “reward” of gratitude (Austen, Sense and Sensibility 351). In order to create this expectational text, this small sequence needs to show the viewer two characters that feel real and still display the desired Regency era courtship, or as Amanda Price says, “lovemaking, as you call it,” in a conversation with Mr. Bingley (Lost in Austen). Without alterations like this sequence, Marianne and Brandon’s marriage becomes one based on circumstance and not affection, a concept too distant from seeing familiar situations in a lost past to satisfy the Austenian expectational text.