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Death cannot part us from love,
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This review is from: Shadowlands [DVD] (DVD)
This is a very strange film, a most extraordinary film. C.S. Lewis and his brother are two unmarried professors in Oxford, living together in the same house. They are living in this haven of peace that Oxford is, entirely dedicated to learning and knowledge, to the maturation of men in the teenagers they get every year, year in and year out. It is their function, their aim, their target and they cannot be derailed from this perspective. Oxford is their own territory and their own world and the world has no limits within these limits of Oxford, and an eventual trip to London for a lecture, but never beyond. C.S. Lewis is a special case in that entirely ghettoized intellectual world. He writes stories for children, for the children he will never have. These stories are about a strange world beyond the bottom of a wardrobe in the attic of his home. A world of bad and evil, of fighting for good and against evil. And yet his life is a routine that would kill thinking out of any human being. But not him, and plenty others around him. They are righteously living in the comfort of academia. The top echelon of that academia. Till one day when an American woman and her young child comes up and asks for an autograph. And the ghetto implodes. The peace is gone, love takes its place. The diplomatic marriage will eventually give way to a real marriage, but on a sick bed in a hospital. She finds out, too late of course, she has bone cancer and will eventually and soon die. And that's how C.S. Lewis discovers there is another love he had never really thought of and certainly not experienced: love for another human being that becomes your horizon and for whom you are dawn and dusk at the same time. That love that makes you mute and talkative in the same minute, so much the one and so much the other that your tongue trips on your muteness and your words get strangled in your talk. Love as a feeling of total gift of yourself to the other and of the other to yourself, with the tremendous responsibility that goes along with it. And death then becomes an unacceptable step away from this reality. Death comes and love will never go away and will turn into suffering, longing, wanting, needing and never getting the satisfaction you could ever wish to get. Love is for life I was going to say, oh yes, love is for life and even beyond life, for death if it comes and when it comes. Love never turns into ashes and never goes back to dirt because it is not dirt, it is the soul of the heart and the mind of life. And that's what C.S. Lewis actually discovers late in his life and never forgot after that. He finally learned how to be a fully blooming man, but it hurts so much when you learn love from within the death of your beloved. I must say the slow rhythm of the film, the very intimates scenes, the delicacy of the language and the acting, and the art of Anthony Hopkins serve that theme so well, so beautifully. It seems to be able to last for ever and ever, and yet the young son, now step-son, is there to remind you the show of life goes on for ever and ever on the stage of the strutting human beings we are.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID