Women in Love (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Women in Love
Women in love ver243.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ken Russell
Produced by Larry Kramer
Martin Rosen
Screenplay by Larry Kramer
Based on Women in Love
by D. H. Lawrence
Starring Alan Bates
Oliver Reed
Glenda Jackson
Jennie Linden
Eleanor Bron
Music by Georges Delerue
Michael Garrett
Cinematography Billy Williams
Edited by Michael Bradsell
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • September 1969 (1969-09)
Running time
131 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $1.6 million[1]
Box office $3.0 million (US/Canada rentals)[2]
$4.5 million (Worldwide)[1]

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.[3] It is the first film to be released by Brandywine Productions.[4]

The plot follows the relationships between two sisters and two men in a mining town in post-World War I England.[5] The two couples take markedly different directions. The film explores the nature of commitment and love.

The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, with Jackson winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role, and the film receiving other honours.


The film takes place in 1920, in the Midlands mining town of Beldover. Two sisters, Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen, discuss marriage on their way to 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 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 visit to her classroom, 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 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. 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. They make love in the woods. The day ends in tragedy when Laura and Tibby drown while swimming in the lake.

During one of Gerald and Rupert's discussions, Rupert suggests Japanese-style wrestling. They strip and wrestle in the firelight. Rupert enjoys their closeness and says they should swear to love each other, 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, then leaves at dawn.

Later, after Ursula and Birkin's marriage, Gerald suggests 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 and cold to commit suicide and die alone. Rupert and Ursula and Gudrun return to their cottage in England. Rupert grieves for his dead friend. As Ursula and Rupert discuss love, Ursula says there can't be two kinds of love. He explains that she is enough for love of a woman but there is another eternal love and bond for a man.



The plan for the film adaptation of Lawrence's novel came from Silvio Narizzano, who had directed the successful Georgy Girl (1966). He suggested the 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 setbacks. He divorced his wife for a man who died soon after.

Kramer originally commissioned a screenplay from David Mercer. Mercer's adaptation differed too much from the original book and he was bought out of the project. Ultimately, Kramer himself wrote the script. After Narizzano's departure, Kramer considered a number of directors to take on the project, including Jack Clayton, Stanley Kubrick and Peter Brook, all of whom declined. 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 committed to the project and made important[clarification needed] contributions to the script.

According to producer Larry Kramer the film came in under budget.[6]


Alan Bates, who had the leading male role in Georgy Girl, was interested from the start in the role of 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 as Charlotte Corday in Marat/Sade. United Artists was unconvinced, considering her not conventionally beautiful enough for the role of Gudrun, who drives Gerald to suicide. Later on, United Artists' executives accepted Jackson as the right person for Gudrun's role, as Jackson had the spontaneous and mercurial personality necessary for the part.[citation needed]

The last of the four main roles to be cast was that 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.[citation needed] It was by accident that Russell and Kramer came upon a screen test that Jennie Linden had made opposite Peter O'Toole for The Lion in Winter, for a part she failed to gain. Linden had recently given birth to her only son and was not eager to take the role but was ultimately persuaded by Kramer and Russell.

The composer Michael Garrett who also contributed to the score can be seen playing the piano in one scene.

Release and reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The film was one of the eight most popular films at the British box office in 1970.[7]

Critical response[edit]

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.[citation needed] Oliver Reed would do a nude wrestling scene with Alan Bates. He went as far as to persuade (and physically twist the arm of) 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. Considered the best of Russell's films, it led him to adapt Lawrence's preceding novel The Rainbow into a 1989 film of the same name, followed by the 1993 BBC TV miniseries Lady Chatterley.

Women in Love received positive reviews from critics and currently holds a 93% rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 15 reviews with an average rating of 7.6/10.[8] Film critic Emanuel Levy has said of the film: "Though deviating from D. H. Lawrence's novel considerably, this is Ken Russell's most fully realised narrative film, lavishly mounted and well-acted, especially by Glenda Jackson in an Oscar-winning performance."[9]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Academy Awards 15 April 1971 Best Director Ken Russell Nominated [10]
Best Actress Glenda Jackson Won
Best Adapted Screenplay Larry Kramer Nominated
Best Cinematography Billy Williams Nominated
British Academy Film Awards 1970 Best Film Women in Love Nominated [11]
Best Direction Ken Russell Nominated
Best Actor in a Leading Role Alan Bates Nominated
Best Actress Glenda Jackson Nominated
Best Screenplay Larry Kramer Nominated
Best Film Music Georges Delerue Nominated
Best Cinematography Billy Williams Nominated
Best Production Design Luciana Arrighi Nominated
Best Costume Design Shirley Ann Russell Nominated
Best Sound Terry Rawlings Nominated
Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles Jennie Linden Nominated
Golden Globes 5 February 1971 Best English-Language Foreign Film Women in Love Won [12]
Best Director Ken Russell Nominated
Best Actress Glenda Jackson Nominated
National Board of Review 3 January 1971 Top Ten Films Women in Love Won [13]
Best Actress Glenda Jackson Won
National Society of Film Critics 10 January 1971 Best Actress Won [14]

Home media[edit]

Women in Love was released on VHS by MGM Home Entertainment in 1994, and on DVD in Regions 1 and 2 in 2003. The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD by the Criterion Collection on 27 March 2018, with the Blu-ray featuring a restored 4K digital transfer.[15][16] The supplementary materials on the Criterion release include audio commentaries and various interviews, along with the 1972 short film Second Best, produced by and starring Alan Bates, based on a story by D.H. Lawrence.[17][18]


  1. ^ a b Balio, Tino (1987). United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 246-247. ISBN 9780299114404. LCCN 87-040138. 
  2. ^ "Tracking the Players". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC.: 36. January 18, 1993. 
  3. ^ Canby, Vincent (26 March 1970). "Women in Love (1969)". NY Times. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 
  4. ^ Slide, Anthony (18 January 2013). Fifty Classic British Films, 1932-1982: A Pictorial Record. Courier Corporation. p. 133. ISBN 9780486148519. 
  5. ^ Lawrence, Will (19 October 2007). "Viggo Mortensen: My painful decision to fight in the nude". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 9 April 2018. 
  6. ^ Sandles, Arthur (15 January 1970). "Finance tighter for the film industry". The Canberra Times. p. 14. Retrieved 30 March 2014 – via National Library of Australia. 
  7. ^ a Staff Reporter. "Paul Newman Britain's favourite star." Times [London, England] 31 December 1970: 9. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
  8. ^ "Women in Love (1969)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 9 April 2018. 
  9. ^ Levy, Emanuel. "Women in Love (1970): Forty Years Ago..." Emanuel Levy. Archived from the original on 13 December 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2018. 
  10. ^ "THE 43RD ACADEMY AWARDS | 1971". Academy Awards. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 28 December 2017. 
  11. ^ "Film in 1970". British Academy Film Awards. British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved 28 December 2017. 
  12. ^ "Women in Love". Golden Globe Awards. Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 28 December 2017. 
  13. ^ "1970 Award Winners". National Board of Review Awards 1970. National Board of Review. Retrieved 28 December 2017. 
  14. ^ "Past Awards". National Society of Film Critics. Retrieved 28 December 2017. 
  15. ^ Jane, Ian (26 March 2018). "Women in Love (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Retrieved 26 March 2018. 
  16. ^ "Women in Love - The Criterion Collection". Amazon. Retrieved 27 March 2018. 
  17. ^ "Women in Love (1969)". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 26 March 2018. 
  18. ^ Barta, Preston (23 March 2018). "DVD reviews: 'Last Jedi' unleashes a tour de force for home entertainment". The Denton Record-Chronicle. Denton Publishing. Retrieved 26 March 2018. 


  • Powell, Dilys (1989) The Golden Screen. London: Pavilion; pp 244–45
  • Taylor, John Russell (1969) Review in The Times 13 November 1969

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film
Succeeded by
Sunday Bloody Sunday