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The Rainbow [DVD] 
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Ken Russell's sensuous dramatisation of DH Lawrence's novel stars Sammi Davis as Ursula Brangwen, a young women in the process of discovering her sexuality. At school she enjoys a passionate affair with the gym mistress Winifred Inger (Amanda Donohoe), and later becomes a teacher herself. But when she meets and marries the soldier Anton Skrebensky (Paul McGann), it gradually becomes clear to her that true satisfaction lies elsewhere.
A respectable and picturesque realisation of DH Lawrence's novel, 1989's The Rainbow is director Ken Russell's prequel to his 1969 version of Women in Love. By Russell's standards, this is a remarkably restrained treatment of Lawrence's novel, set in the Midlands in the 19th century: with its lush, rural setting and quaint bucolic soundtrack there are moments when you might imagine you're watching The Railway Children--until the sex scenes kick in, that is.
Her soul infused with infinite longing by the sight of a rainbow as a child, Ursula Brangwen grows up restless at the prescribed roles set out for women in Victorian England, which are stoically endured by her mother (Glenda Jackson, who played Ursula's sister Gudrun in Women in Love). She idealises her swimming instructor--the older, more experienced Winifred (Amanda Donohoe) with whom she enjoys a passionate, borderline lesbian relationship. She becomes a schoolteacher against her parents' wishes, and takes up with Paul McGann, who is somewhat tepid as a Boer War officer. Ultimately, however, she finds all of these limitations too constraining and finally strikes out on her own in search of true spiritual and sexual freedom.
On the DVD: This is a full-screen version of the film, ratio 4:3. The sound quality is fine as is the colour and sharpness, though like the film itself, not quite as ravishing as you might hope. Special features consist of a routine trailer ("She played by her passion, not by their rules") and disappointingly perfunctory "filmographies" of the director and cast: merely lists of their previous movies. --David Stubbs --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Ursula finds that the prospect of being married to anton to restricting and she sets out on her own to experience life.
Paul Mcgann is great in this movie, some of his best work, he's perfect as the handsome young soldier.
This movie is definetly worth a watch.
The Lionsgate DVD from Great Britain is a nicely rendered transfer but, alas, not wide screen.
But despite the vanilla release, the picture is anything but vanilla. It's dated, low budget and stars an actress who can't act, and yet I think it's a beautiful film- one of my favourites.
Director Ken Russell was made for DH Lawrence. I've only seen clips of his other Lawrence adaptations (Women in Love and Lady Chatterley's Lover) but to me, this is perfect Lawrence- the aspects of Lawrence that people should focus on, rather than Lawrence's philosophical ponderings and wanderings into smut. What Lawrence's works are really about is the 'life instinct'- the drive humans have towards beauty, fulfilment and fertility, escaping everything that is dead and empty.
The rainbow of the title is the unreachable goal of the life instinct. Nevertheless, young lass Ursula Brangwen (Sammi Davis) yearns for the personal fulfilment she believes it will give her. She attempts to fulfil herself through work and the two great loves of her life: strident gym mistress Winifred Inger (Amanda Donohoe) and dashing soldier Anton Skrebensky (Paul McGann). Coincidentally, both McGann and Donohoe star together in Paper Mask, which came out the following year. But Ursula learns that people cannot be relied on for fulfilment, and that true fulfilment comes from the ability to cope with the challenges that life brings.
It's a wonderful message for a costume drama to have.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lawrence's great novel reduced to travesty. Bates and Reed wrestle for banality and silliness. Perhaps it seemed a little racy when it came out, but it's now ridiculous posturing. Read morePublished 7 months ago by dr john
I only bought this to see Paul McGann. He's worth it as usual but the slow paced story and Lesbian themes put me off it.Published on 24 Dec. 2013 by avid reader
it will amuse you for a while but a bit dated now but worth a watch as the acting is goodPublished on 25 Feb. 2013 by jimmy
This DVD gives a good feel for the period in which it is set, including very exotic and fashionable stiff collars on the female actors.Published on 26 May 2012 by D. Jefferies