Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Sarah Lancashire, Hugo Speer, James Murray, Rupert Evans, Esther Hall
Director: Stephen Whittaker
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
A powerful, passionate adaptation of the classic DH Lawrence novel about love, sex and family starring Sarah Lancashire as Gertrude Morel, Sons and Lovers is a drama about the fragility of human relationships. Gertrude pou... more »
Sons Who Love Mothers
David Schweizer | Kansas, USA | 06/08/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Leave it to the BBC to produce a first-class adaptation of a classic, beloved novel. In America, PBS can no longer do anything except run auctions for used furniture and so-called heirlooms. ABC, NBC, And CBS have given up all drama in favor of reality shows, but the British treat television as the art form it can be. Lawrence's first novel is also his best. The cast is superb. The direction is subtle, the cinematography gorgeous. Edwardian England films well. The men and women are sexy and sensual in their multi-buttoned outfits, and Lawrence seems to have had it right that people were panting to get out of their clothes. This is an explicit version, with lots of nice coupling in the hay. The mother's suffocating love is shown to kill her husband and children and finally herself. It's Lawrence at his best before he became a prophet and bore."
Another brilliant BBC production of a classic novel
R. Swanson | New Mexico | 09/30/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Two disks in this set give you a long, leisurely look at the Morel family, from the first meeting of the parents, through the births of their four children, and then focusing on the young adulthood of the middle son, Paul. It has been said that the character of Paul, a painter, is closely modelled after that of Lawrence.
From our standpoint, a hundred years later, we have the psychological sophistication to see Paul's dilemma clearly. We know about children of alcholics, mothers who love too much, Oedipal complexes, etc. So it can be a little frustrating to see poor Paul caught in the morass of his family's dysfunction, and we might want to yell at the screen a bit, or to stage an intervention with Dr. Phil. But, to him, or to Lawrence, trying to muddle through before such information was common knowledge, life was certainly a struggle.
It is a temptation, maybe to see the characters as psychological types: the alcoholic dad, the frustrated, religious mom who turns away from her husband and overwhelms her sons with her affection. The two sons who pledge un-ending love to their mother and whose inability to make the break cripples them and forces them into unwise choices in their lovers.
All of that is true but it's to the credit of the film, and no doubt to the novel, that we clothe these types with human faces and forms.
It's too the credit of the film, too, not to label any of them as good or evil. In the beginning, the father is cleary the bad guy; we see him, drunk, striking the good mom. But as time goes by, we begin to see him as a victim, too and have some sympathy for him. At least I did. He went into the coal mines at 12, worked long hard hours in darkness. Who can blame him for wanting the comfort of a pint in the pub at the end of the day? When his wife wants to make conversation about the theory of transubstantiation--whether or not the wine really turns into the blood of Christ or if it's just symbolic, and he just want to feed his face...well who can blame him?
Blame him, she does, though, and who can blame her for that? He becomes the family bad guy, shrinks in the corner like a forgotten dog for much of the scenes, but he's always present. When the oldest son wins the bike race, he's there standing silently in the background while the son gives the silver trophy to his beloved mom, with a kiss. Likewise, when the middle son, Paul, wins the award at the art show, it's Mom who gets the praise and thanksgiving, and the kiss, while Dad stands in the back.
There's a daughter born into the family, too, but she is ignored as a character. She is a cheerful helper and eventually marries a decent but unremarkable fellow, but no special attention is given to her, to be bright and develop her talents as the sons are encouraged to do.
So Gertrude, the beautiful blond woman who danced so joyfully with her suitor at the Christmas party and again at their wedding, and who joins with him happilly in their marriage bed, gradually changes before our eyes, as the years pass. Life has changed her and she becomes the overwhelming emotional tyrant whose refusal to let her sons go. I could barely stand to look at her towards the end of the film and was really glad when she made her departure, and hoped that somehow Paul would find the means to outgrow the wounds she inflicted on him. I guess that was the grist for Lawrence's personal mill, which propelled him to write this story with such energy.
In the end, none of the characters is all good or all bad. We see the limitations of their circumstances and understand their actions. Gertrude really believed she was doing the best for her sons and they believed they were responding in the most loving ways to her. Dad was probably just trying to ease his pain a little and get through the day.
The casting of the two older sons is maybe a little off. They certainly add spark and glamour to what could be a very bleak story and I appreciated having these beautiful young men to watch during the 3 and 1/2 hours I sat through it. But it's hard to believe that men who were that emotionally crippled would have the energy and elan that these two exceptionally handsome and charming actors had. That's show business, though.
As usual the BBC gives a polished production. There are beautiful outdoor shots and a few dance parties to brighten up the gloom. There is plenty of sex, and again, it's good to have such trim young fellows cast as we see a lot of their backsides. There is some full frontal nudity of the ladies and yes, we do get a peek at Rupert, too. Usually the men get to hide their privates away while the ladies are obliged to show all. The overall dreariness of the sex is striking, but maybe that's a British thing, sort of like their food. What it lacks in joy, it makes up for in frequency. Apparently sex is one way that Lawrence tried to break away and find his own freedom so we are treated to a painstaking representation of his efforts.
What did disappoint me, though, was the lack of any positive development in the characters. We see how Mom and Dad declined, the negative effects of the family on the sons, and we see Paul's struggles to move on, but we don't really see any victory or transformation. There's plenty of drama but no real resolution, no catharsis. I guess that's why it left me a little cold and I subtract a star for that reason. That's the flaw of the book, though, not of the film. I recommend the Amazon site for the novel for a rich discussion.
Tragic unhappy lives
dr | 02/22/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I read the novel in a freshman required college course, under the direction of an inspired professor, some years ago.
Given the press of work at college, I may not have read the entire book myself, but we certainly discussed it in every detail in class.
The book was a clinical study in Freudian psychology, Oedipal complex.
The DVD is a great deal more explicit than I remember the novel, perhaps we read the expurgated version of Sons and Lovers.
The study of Sons and Lovers affected the rest of my life.
A number of beautiful scenes and brutal scences in the DVD. The brutal scenes were, I think, a realistic view of what the author had in mind.
This DVD can't be seen as purely entertaining because it is an autobiography of a life that was in fact tragic and troubled.
The DVD is well worthwhile for a mature audience, looking for more than pretty pictures and light themes, and Disneyland in a movie. This DVD is real life, and every young person (not too young) should view this DVD.
The scary part is how universal the Oedipus complex in many, if not all, families."
Dramatic and Brilliant
J. Whitney | New York | 06/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As another reviewer wrote good quality programming in the US is virtually non-existent these days so when I picked this little gem up at the library I was blissfully happy for three and half hours. The fine acting by the entire cast made the drama real and intense. A mother in a bad marriage pours all of her love and attention onto her two sons eventually preventing both from making sound choices in relationships with other women. A tragedy shifts the focus onto the middle son Paul and he must endure his mother's jealousy and overprotective behaviour as he fluctuates between two very different types of women. The young actor who portrays Paul (Rupert Evans) is someone who I was unfamiliar with but will definitely look for in future movies. He resembles a very early Brad Pitt in some scenes. I think the British cornered the market when it comes to talent. Overall a great film that I can highly recommend."