Recalling the steamy nature of this BBC production from the early 1990s, it was good to be able to see it on DVD again. Ken Russell directs this prestigious production of the Lady Chatterley story which manages to encompass D.H. Lawrence's three books in three and a half hours worth of drama. Firstly the casting is splendid - Joely Richardson pitches her performance in the title role splendidly, managing to capture Connie's vivacious, passionate nature with a caring side, Sean Bean's portrayal of the rough, brutish but undeniably romantic Mellors is perfect, even down to his character's use of local dialect and James Wilby as the cuckolded husband, paralysed in the First World War manages to command his character's intelligence and stoic nature to great aplomb. Special mention must also be made of Shirley Anne Field's portrayal of Sir Clifford's nurse, Mrs Bolton manages to tread the difficult line of being aware of what's going on but managing to stay neutral.
Ken Russell manages to capture the cinematography wonderfully and the exterior scenes are lush and verdant. There are a number of scenes which show Connie dressed in white wandering through the grimy pit town which provide a sharp contrast between the classes. My only bugbear with this production was Russell casting himself as Connie's father, which was a bit strange and the somewhat odd and innapropriate orchestral score which eminates during the Connie and Mellors' somewhat energetic love scenes - you half expect the orchestra to be sitting in a nearby copse, playing away! Overall though, an excellent production and well worth a second viewing.
on 2 April 2012
A very good job Ken Russell did by adapting another novel of D H Lawrence. Not only did he directed and co-wrote an adaptation from a very controversial novel which exists in three different versions, though the third is the most common in bookstores, Ken Russell combined elements from the second and from the third version, mixing together only the best elements and keeping the same story together. Like he said in an interview for a previous DVD release, he tried to remain in the spirit of the novel. Even his ending, completely unique to the novel, makes sense since it has parallels to DH Lawrence's relationship with his wife Frieda Lawrence. Something interesting since many of his characters were based on him and people that he knew.
Great compliments go to all the actors, including Joely Richardson and Sean Bean, whose chemistry is perfect. Thanks to that, it makes the relationship between those characters believable.
Though the music soundtrack is not the same as the one used during the original broadcast, apart from the music played on the piano or other instruments by the characters which has been kept, I found the public-domain music used on the dvd very good. Though it would have been nice to know from Ken Russell's interview which english composers' tracks he used for his original broadcast, though I now know that he used many from Elgar and Delius. For the latter, Russell used his Appalachia as the intro theme to the episodes.
It would be nice if someone could poinpoint on some website which music tracks Ken Russell used for which scenes or if the BBC could ever release a proper DVD with the original soundtrack.
Anyway, an excellent tv series to watch and to have, even though it lacks its original soundtrack.
on 10 December 2006
I have read the previous reviews and I fully agree that this is a very good adaptation of Lawrence's novel and backed up by a truly felicitous cast. However I would like to qualify a common remark made by two of the previous reviewers: that the film does not entirely follow the novel. I think the film actually reflects more of Lawrence's book than we realise as the director relied not only on the last version of the novel, which got published in the 20s, but also on the first two versions of the book. The film is, in my opinion, quite an achievement precisely because it is faithful to the book-as-a-writing-process, with the director bringing back to life memorable scenes that did not make it into the final version of Lady Chatterley's Lover.
on 13 March 2015
Lady Chatterley's Lover carries with it the charge of obscenity. The book was banned in Britain for 30 years and only finally published in 1960 when Penguin Books successfully challenged the ban in court.
Lawrence would have laughed (or cried) at the public spectacle. The obscenities in the book are not obscenities. They are challenges and provocations to our complacencies, to lazy, thoughtless, uncritical judgements. He used 'bad language' on purpose to shock us awake, to ground us in the earth where all natural things reside, to look at our sexual natures without the guilt and sin of Eden intervening to trouble and weaken us.
He added to the shock by crossing class lines, making his lovers love in a state of classless harmony. And love they do. Physically of course, although sex is only part of a fulfillment in which desire is not everything.
The usual themes of Lawrence are present. Society: crimped, narrow, confining, rigid, static, cruel, oppressive, hypocritical. The freed individual: natural, honest, innocent, pure, liberated. True love: generous, caring, sensitive, attentive, supportive, spontaneous, flexible, respectful. The social forms of love: duty, obligation, vows, roles, tradition.
Connie and Clifford Chatterley are married but they are not in love. Clifford thinks he is; Connie hungers to be. It isn't Clifford's fault. He is damaged by the war, crippled on the Western Front in a futile, pointless war. The symbolism here too is that England is spent, the landed gentry immobile and emasculated. So even if he weren't confined to a wheelchair, Clifford is crippled by all the ties to land and property that bind him through allegiance to an old, outmoded way of thinking. Connie is not bound so. She is English, but not loyal to the England of her husband. She will not sacrifice her youth, beauty, vitality, sensuality, femininity and freedom to it. Instead, she will allow love to lead her to a better place.
That place is the woodland cottage of the gamekeeper Mellors who is employed by Clifford. His job is to keep poachers at bay, which is probably one of Lawrence's better ironies, as Mellors is destined to poach his employer's wife from him. Mellors is rustic, rough-hewn, strong, virile. He has manners but they are his own, not those of the country gentleman. He is deferential to Connie because he respects her, not her social position. He knows (and Connie does too) that this position is the confection of the rich and powerful. It is real but also illusory.
Of the many things that love is, one of them is freeing. It is this love that Connie seeks. When Mellors realizes this, he too falls in love.
Where is the obscenity in this?
Sean Bean is an actor from the north — from Yorkshire. He does working-class men well and is fully believable as Mellors. Joely Richardson is a dream, a vision. She was in her youthful prime when the film was made in the early '90s. Watch out or you may fall in love with her too. James Wilby is always good. He plays these roles well where the weight of history and tradition crush him. His Clifford Chatterley is pitch perfect. We feel for him. He is a good man. He has already suffered greatly because of the war. How can we accept the added suffering that Connie causes him? It isn't easy. Even Lawrence knew that, which is why he portrayed him so sympathetically, not meanly. Clifford in many ways is a victim: of the war, class, tradition, history. What he inspires most is what he most loathes — pity.
What the French call menage a trois can only be sustained provisionally, temporarily. A point will be reached where one of the three must go. Clifford does. This is Lawrence's judgement. Connie's too.
Mellors has the strength of character and feeling to sustain Connie's happiness. That is really what Lawrence wanted to say.
on 30 May 2007
I bought this version because I had just seen the French adaptation by Pascale Ferran(which got many awards and the 'Cesar' award this year and which delighted me completely!) and I was suddenly curious (as I read the book) to see the British version of it. Especially as the two actors seemed familiar to me and as it was made by the BBC (it usually means the series or the drama is of good quality).
But I was very disappointed by this version. By episode 2, either I was bored or felt like laughing because some scenes were not very well-made. OK, I know I can't be objective (I've seen the French film and of course I like it very much) but I am going to do my best not to compare it to the French one.
One good point is that the two actors, Sean Bean and Joely Richardson are very good-looking and I can even say that Sean Bean fits the part of Mellors very well. The problem with them is that I don't feel anything for these characters, I can't relate at all to this Connie. Sir Clifford is too much a caricature...I think in the book the character has more depth than the one in this version. And Constance leaves me cold. I can't even feel sorry for the fact that she seems to have a boring life. But it is not really the actors' fault (I've seen other performances by Sean Bean and I know he is a good actor), it's a problem with the directing or the production.
I was a little disappointed by the scene when Constance sees Mellors for the first time at the hut while he is washing his torso outside, without noticing that she is looking at him. In the book, this moment when C sees Mellors's back torso is a key moment because for the first time in a long time she is really 'turned on'/overwhelmed by this sight of this half-naked man, in other words, her desire for a man is re-awakened for the first time. In the film, what happens? nothing, just a short scene, there is not enough time to see if the sight of him does something to her, I wanted to see some reaction on the actress' face, it seems that in the book, she just stares at him not knowing what to do while in the film, the whole scene just lasts a few seconds. So a major letdown but this is nothing compared to the love-making scenes in episode 2. Sorry, but the loud music that they put in these scenes is completely ridiculous and prevents me from being moved or touched by these scenes. Maybe the other problem is that these scenes are too fast-paced and I thought while watching the series that it happened too fast between them and I kept remembering that Mellors in the book was more unsociable and sullen than that.
And yet, there are some good moments. There are some beautiful scenes between the two actors(while looking after the birds for example, first attempts at communicating ) but there are too few and I can't say I will watch the series again. If you happen to see the French film 'Lady Chatterley' you may understand why I feel a bit lukewarm about this BBC version.
on 12 April 2002
The film is presented as an adaptation of Lawrence's classical novel,and that's what it is:we don't have to imagine it's perfectly following the book.But I wasn't disappointed,at the contrary,it's a wonderful adaptation,the actors are superb,especially Sean Bean,and the film doesn't betray the nature of the characters.One of the most important themes of the film is the fact that the two lovers belong to two different classes.
I prefered THIS end.Romantic and erotic.