From the director of Women in Love and Altered States comes a retelling of the literary classic that launched the most celebrated obscenity trial of the 20th century. In adapting the famous tale of unbridled passion, Ken R... more »ussell has made a moving love story and some of the most talked about television of the 1990s. Joely Richardson (Return to Me, The Affair of the Necklace) stars as the young, sexually repressed Lady Chatterley, whose paralyzed husband (James Wilby, Gosford Park) urges her to find fulfillment and an heir for his fortune in the arms of another man. Sean Bean (Patriot Games, The Lord of the Rings) is the lowly gamekeeper whose scandalous attentions awaken her senses. DVD special features include an exclusive interview with writer/director Ken Russell, behind-the-scenes photo gallery, broadcast trailer, cast and crew filmographies and DH Lawrence biography.« less
"It is rare that a novel can successfully be adapted to the screen without losing much of its force. Lady Chatterley, Ken Russell's adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, however, loses almost none of the force of the original source. The novel was banned when it came out, and one viewing of Lady Chatterley will explain why. The British VHS box for Lady Chatterley boasts that it is filled with "very, very erotic sex." That is about the most accurate statement you can make about this movie. Lest one get the wrong idea, however, this made-for-TV movie is not pornography. It utilizes the original plot, cutting out some of the more social aspects of the novel, to tell a beautiful story about one woman's search for love -- sexual and otherwise -- outside of her marriage and class. Joely Richardson, best known in the U.S. for cavorting with Mel Gibson in "The Patriot," here bares it all early and often with Sean Bean. Both of them shine in their respective roles. Ms. Richardson is brilliant as a strong, independent woman whose husband is crippled during WWI, thus basically ending her sexual life prematurely. Sean Bean plays her lowly, gamekeeper lover, Oliver Mellors. The dirty, scruffy, growling Mellors is the perfect vehicle for Sean Bean's talent -- part bad guy, part sensual lover, in many ways a guilty pleasure (much like Sean Bean himself!) This is not a movie for immature audiences -- it is as beautiful a story as it is erotic, much the way D. H. Lawrence wrote it. Nor is it for the faint of heart -- the sex scenes are revealing and very intense. It is beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, and overall, is an amazing cinematic experience. The 3.5 hours are well worth watching, at least for fans of Joely Richardson or Sean Bean. Although the movie is extremely good, I would definitely recommend reading the original novel as well, particularly the unexpurgated version. Some of the best scenes in the novel were cut for censorship considerations and their inability to work onscreen. Nonetheless, fans of the novel will not be disappointed -- and those unacquainted with the novel will certainly be more than a little surprised at the force and eroticism of this movie."
Irreverent and Sensual Adaptation of an Irreverent and Sensu
Doug Anderson | Miami Beach, Florida United States | 07/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This BBC miniseries has a well earned reputation as being much looser and freer with its literary souce (here the source material is not just one work but several works of DH Lawrence)than most literary adaptations for English television. Also, while most BBC productions of literary masterpieces are studies in social conservatism this one obviously identifies with and invites us to identify with its most irreverent and forward-thinking characters: in this case the sultry and sophisticated, and somewhat libertine (in a 1920's kind of way), Lady Chatterly & the earthy and irreverent and smoldering (smoldering both with class resentment and with lust for a lady from the oppressive class) Oliver Mellors. Both of these factors can be attributed to director Ken Russell who has had a long and illustrious career writing and directing some of the BBC's best programs (many of them about musical composers). Russell is nothing if not unconventional and freethinking. Of course most of us in the states know Ken Russell as the director of a handful of cult classics such as TOMMY (1975), ALTERED STATES (1979),and, GOTHIC (1986); all of which feature lurid dream sequences and, some would say, gratuitously lewd situations. But Ken Russell is actually a director with many facets, and Russell's interest in DH Lawrence goes back to at least 1969 when he made what is still the best DH Lawrence adaptation on film, WOMEN IN LOVE (starring Glenda Jackson, Oliver Reed & Alan Bates). He then followed that up twenties years later with THE RAINBOW (starring Amanda Donohoe, and Sammie Davis). Both of these adaptations are known for being restrained and fairly true to their sources even though Russell did add some scenes in both which were not in the original books; his additions, however, were tasteful and even added clarity to the material.
What is interesting about this new DH Lawrence adaptation is that Ken Russell seems to have remained interested in DH Lawrence for so many years and for many of the same reasons. DH Lawrence more than any other author in the English language, or any language for that matter, stands for the power of the body and the bodies experience over the power of reason. This was the main theme of his earlier DH Lawrence adaptations and this is the main theme of his latest. But this one is by far the most sensual of the three and that is largely due to the fact that Joely Richardson seems to be the very embodiment of sensual awakening; the actress seems as willing as her character to simply follow the dictates of the body regardless of social norms. Its always a big deal when a high profile actress (especially one with the lineage of Joely Richardson) sheds her clothes on screen, but to do so on British televison for all to see takes more than a little boldness. The nudity is well done and adds to the allure of this BBC classic; no question about that. The greatest scene in the entire 4 hour miniseries is not the nudity, however, but, the vision Joely has before she ever ventures out to that hut in the woods. One night after hearing her blowhard husband, Lord Clifford (who cares more for his family estate "Wragby" and his "class" than he does about any individual), read from Socrates about the white horse of reason and the black horse of desire, she dreams she is riding through a Greek temple full of nude men who seem to be growing like vines out of the stone. This is not something that DH Lawrence ever wrote, this is pure Ken Russell and yet its the most exciting thing in the whole miniseries; plus its the best way to deliver Lady Chatterly's state of mind (or body) to us. DH Lawrence is actually very wordy for one who claims to be interested in the body more than in the mind but Ken Russell has found a visual shorthand for delivering those Lawrentian themes with nice visuals. I only wish there were more moments like this. The most sensual acting is done by Joely Richarson when in her private chambers. And Russell seems to be keenly aware that it is Lady Chatterly's imagination that fires her body. After the horse dream Connie drapes a veil over her head and walks nude through the house down to Lord Clifford's first-floor room. This scene is more imaginatively and erotically charged than any of the actual love scenes that will follow.
The actual affair between Lady Chatterly and Oliver Mellors is a little odd; in fact its very awkward. At first they just agree (sort of) to use each other for sex. But of course that never works and soon they are intimates thoroughly engaged with each other, body and mind, and running naked through the rainy glades and meadows; then sitting nake dbefore a fire and pretending to be Lady Jane and John Thomas. Their "understanding" involves a mutual appreciation of nature, and a mutual loathing of Lord Clifford and the upper-class privileges that he defends as birthrights. Russell gets a lot of mileage out of the Racine and Proust reading and piano and chess playing Lord Clifford and his antagonisms toward all those that he perceives to be lower than himself (pretty much everyone in the coal mining community that he owns; this actor really has fun with this role and Russell obviously enjoys his rants because he gives him so many). Lord Clifford is actually a pretty forward-thinking guy, in his own way, as he does give his wife permission to take a lover, but, arguably, its for selfish reasons: he merely wants an heir. We certainly pity this WWI vet who must cart himself around in various malfunctioning contraptions (metaphors for the mind and its futile tinkerings perhaps; what people are reduced to when they no longer have a functioning body) but he just won't allow anyone to actually like him except his live-in nurse who finds him curiously attractive (a plot thread that Russell leaves undeveloped). He even vents about the lower classes "knowing their place" in the "natural" scheme of things right in front of his house servants. Russell lingers on the face of one table servant as he does so (another striking Russell touch). No mistaking whose side this film maker is on. So this affair of the body between Lady Chatterly and Mellors is actually informed by a social awareness and a mutual understanding and empathy (which one could argue is as much about reason as it is about the body). In any event we eventually come to accept that these two opposties are drawn to one another for a variety of social and sexual reasons: the one perhaps fueling the other.
Lady Chatterly's own father and sister are free-living bohemians; so why exactly she was attracted to the repressed snob Lord Clifford Chatterly is a bit of a mystery. Both her father and sister encourage Connie to find lovers but her sister anyway is as much as a snob as Lord Clifford. We're not certain and we never hear what her father thinks of her affair with the gamekeeper Mellors so we never know if the affair has had social repercussions for Lady Chatterly herself.
The ending is a bit ...well I don't want to give it away. Suffice it to say that it's different than the book and it doesn't quite resolve those class issues that it raised. The answer seems to be: leave England. Perhaps the ending is based on one of Lawrence's short stories. In any event Ken Russell's creative attitude toward the "classics" is perhaps the most attractive thing about this adaptation. I hope his attitude is contagious and will inspire more loose and free treatments of the classics. This cultural freedom is refreshing and liberating (for mind and body)."
The story of a young and sexually repressed woman
Midwest Book Review | Oregon, WI USA | 10/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Now available in a DVD format, Lady Chatterley is the dramatic and passionate BBC miniseries directed by Ken Russell and based upon the D.H. Lawrence novel "Lady Chatterley's Lover" which gave rise to what was perhaps the most famous obscenity trial of the 20th Century and continues to appear on various banned books lists for it subject matter. It's the story of a young and sexually repressed woman of the British upper class who is unhappily married to a paralyzed husband. She encounters a gamekeeper on her estates whose scandalous attentions awaken her senses. This BBC production is technically flawless and hallmarked with beautiful outdoor scenes, authentically detailed indoor sets, brilliant acting, and outstanding direction. Available in VHS (11457, $29.95), Lady Chatterley has a running time of 205 minutes."
-"My lady"...say it again, Sean!!!
260875 | New York, NY United States | 11/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Brilliant! I bought this movie because of Sean Bean (I just wanted to hear him saying "lass"...) and because I love british drama. I just finished it and I am not disappointed. What a great story! I do believe that the sex scenes are far from being shocking, they are justified, intense and beautiful. The previous reviews say it all - great story, adaptation, characters... over 200 minutes very, very well spent.I'll let the tears dry now."
A well written, well filmed and well acted adaptation. Highl
Ms. L. C. Bradley | Berkshire, UK | 10/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For anyone who has seen the 1981 film adaptation by Just Jaeckin and was dissapointed then this is for you. The 1981 film, I feel, failed to capture the essence of Lady Chatterley's character whilst this version has got it almost perfect. I think the filming and editing in this version far exceeds the film and the acting is a darn sight better. Joely Richardson does the lead justice and Sean Bean (although much better looking that the book describes Mellors but really, who's complaining?) compliments her well. The screen play is faithful considering filming constraints and all together I really enjoyed it. I'm now studying the novel for a university module and this has made me appreciate what is essentially a book/adaptation that pushes class boundaries through the guise of female sexuality. It caused a lot of controversy because of the female lead apparantly being stronger than her husband, taken to extreme in her sexual escapades, rather than being simply an object owned my him. At the trial of the book in the late 1920s the procecutor famously opened with the statement "Is it a book you would wish your wife or servants to read?" Need he say more? If you do not want to look at the story that deeply then it really doesnt matter, it is a beautifully made adaptation and well worth the 4 hours viewing time."