Women in Love (film)
|Women in Love|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ken Russell|
|Produced by||Larry Kramer
|Screenplay by||Larry Kramer|
|Based on||Women in Love
by D. H. Lawrence
|Music by||Georges Delerue
|Editing by||Michael Bradsell|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Running time||131 minutes|
|Box office||$1.2 million (US/Canada)
$4.5 million (Worldwide)
Women in Love is a 1969 British romantic drama film directed by Ken Russell and starring Alan Bates, Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson, and Jennie Linden. The film was adapted by Larry Kramer from D. H. Lawrence's novel of the same name.
The plot follows the relationships between two sisters and two men in a mining town in post First World War England. The two couples take markedly different directions exploring the nature of commitment and love.
The film was nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. Jackson won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role, as well as a slew of critics' honours.
In 1920 in the Midlands mining town of Beldover, two sisters, Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen, discuss marriage on their way to watch the wedding of Laura Crich, daughter of the town's wealthy mine owner, Thomas Crich, to Tibby Lupton, a naval officer. At the village's church each sister is especially fascinated by a particular member of the wedding party – Gudrun by Laura's brother Gerald and Ursula by Gerald's best friend Rupert Birkin. Ursula is a school teacher and Rupert is a school inspector; she remembers his coming to her classroom and interrupting her botany lesson to discourse on the sexual nature of the catkin.
The four are later brought together at a house party at the estate of Hermione Roddice, a rich woman whose relationship with Rupert is falling apart. When Hermione devises, as an entertainment for her guests, a dance in the "style of the Russian ballet", Rupert becomes impatient with her pretensions and tells the pianist to play some ragtime. This sets off spontaneous dancing among the whole group and angers Hermione. She leaves the room. When Birkin follows her into the next room, she smashes a glass paperweight against his head, and he staggers outside. He discards his clothes and wanders through the woods. Later, at the Criches' annual picnic, to which most of the town is invited, Ursula and Gudrun find a secluded spot, and Gudrun dances before some Highland cattle while Ursula sings "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles". When Gerald and Rupert appear, Gerald calls Gudrun's behaviour "impossible and ridiculous", and then says he loves her. "That's one way of putting it", she replies. Ursula and Birkin wander away discussing death and love and end up making love in the woods. The day ends in tragedy when Laura and Tibby drown while swimming in the lake; she has pulled him under.
During one of Gerald and Rupert's discussions, Rupert suggest Japanese style wrestling. They strip off their clothes and wrestle in the firelight. Rupert enjoys their closeness and says they should swear to love each other implicitly, but Gerald cannot understand Rupert's idea of wanting to have an emotional union with a man as well as an emotional and physical union with a woman. Ursula and Birkin decide to marry while Gudrun and Gerald continue to see each other. One evening, emotionally exhausted after his father's illness and death, Gerald sneaks into the Brangwen house to spend the night with Gudrun in her bed and then leaves at dawn.
Later, after Ursula and Birkin's marriage, Gerald suggest that the four of them go to the Alps for Christmas. At their inn in the Alps, Gudrun irritates Gerald with her interest in Loerke, a gay German sculptor. An artist herself, Gudrun is fascinated with Loerke's idea that brutality is necessary to create art. While Gerald grows increasingly jealous and angry, Gudrun only derides and ridicules him. Finally he can endure it no longer. After attempting to strangle her, he trudges off into the snow to die. Rupert and Ursula and Gudrun return to their cottage in England where he grieves for his dead friend. As Ursula and Rupert discuss love, Ursula says there can't be two kinds of love. She asks, "Why should you?"
"It seems as if I can't," Rupert responds, "yet I wanted it. "
The plan for the film adaptation of Lawrence's novel came from Silvio Narizzano, who had directed the successful Georgy Girl (1966), who suggested his idea to Larry Kramer, who then bought the book's film rights. Narizzano, intended as director, had to leave the project after suffering a series of personal set backs. He divorced his wife for a man who shortly after died tragically.
Kramer originally commissioned a screenplay from David Mercer, whose adaptation differed too much from the original book and he was bought out of the project. Ultimately Kramer himself wrote the script. With Narizzano out of the picture Kramer considered a number of directors to take on the project including Jack Clayton, Stanley Kubrick and Peter Brook all of whom declined the offer. Kramer's fourth choice was Ken Russell who had previously directed only two films and was better known then for his biographical projects about artists for the BBC. Ken Russell became committed to the project and made important contributions to the script.
Alan Bates, who had the leading male role in Georgy Girl, was interested from the start in being cast as Birkin, D.H. Lawrence's alter ego. Bates sported a beard, giving him a physical resemblance to D.H. Lawrence.
Kramer wanted Edward Fox for the role of Gerald. Fox fitted Lawrence's description of the character ("blond, glacial and Nordic"), but United Artists, the studio financing the production, imposed Oliver Reed, a more bankable star, as Gerald even though he was not physically like Lawrence's description of the character.
Kramer was adamant to give the role of Gudrun to Glenda Jackson. She was, then, well recognised in theatrical circles. As a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company she had gained a great deal of attention in the role of Charlotte Corday in Marat/Sade. United Artists was unconvinced to cast her considering her not conventionally beautiful enough for the role of Gudrun who drives Gerald to suicide. However, later on United Artists' executives were convinced they'd picked the right person for this casting decision since Jackson had the spontaneous and mercurial personality that was necessary for the part.
The last of the four main roles to be cast was the one of Ursula. Both Vanessa Redgrave and Faye Dunaway declined to take the role finding it the less interesting of the two sisters and that they would be easily eclipsed by Glenda Jackson's acting skills. It was by accident that Russell and Kramer came upon a screening test that Jennie Linden had made opposite Peter O'Toole for The Lion in Winter, for a part she failed to gain. Kramer and Russell went to visit her offering her the chance to be Ursula. Linden had recently given birth to her only son and was not eager to take the role but was ultimately persuaded.
Released in Britain in 1969 and the US in 1970, the film was applauded as a good rendering of D.H. Lawrence's once controversial novel about love, sex and the upper class in England. During the making of the film, Russell had to work on conveying sex and the sensual nature of Lawrence's book. Many of the stars came to understand this was to be a complex piece and worked hard to convey this. No one worked as hard as Oliver Reed, who would do a nude wrestling scene with Alan Bates. He went as far as to persuade (and lightly physically arm twist) director Russell to film the scene. Russell conceded and shot the controversial scene, which suggested the homoerotic undertones of Gerald and Rupert's friendship. The wrestling scene caused the film to be banned altogether in Turkey. The composer Michael Garrett who also contributed to the score can be seen playing the piano in one scene. Considered the best of Russell's films, it led him to adapt Lawrence's prequel The Rainbow (1989).
The film was one of the eight most popular films at the British box office in 1970.
- Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company The Changed the Film Industry, Uni of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p 246-247
- "Big Rental Films of 1970", Variety, 6 January 1971 p 11
- New York Times review of Women in Love (film).
- The Telegraph film article
- a Staff Reporter. "Paul Newman Britain's favourite star." Times [London, England] 31 December 1970: 9. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
- Powell, Dilys (1989) The Golden Screen. London: Pavilion; pp 244–45
- Taylor, John Russell (1969) Review in The Times 13 November 1969
|Awards and achievements|
|Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film
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