WOMEN IN LOVE

PrintE-mail Written by Robert Martin

As this 1969 film version of the celebrated DH Lawrence novel approaches its half century, the BFI's new blu-ray release is a timely reminder of why this is considered to be one of greatest literary adaptations of all time.

In post WW1 Midlands, middle class sisters Gudrun and Ursula (Glenda Jackson and Jennie Linden) embark on affairs with upper class friends Gerald and Rupert (Oliver Reed and Alan Bates).  Following their courtships, during which the couples talk about and explore the nature of love and sex, they all go on holiday to the Swiss Alps where things for all four people take dramatic turns.

The plot is played out against a backdrop in which class distinctions and the male dominated basis of society are on the verge of forever changing. The relationships between these people reveal what it is to need love, to seek it, to lose it, to confuse it with lust, showing what it's like to be women in love in a world where men seem to have all of the power. But do they?

Women In Love is a remarkable film on so many levels. Directed by Ken Russell, it may be one of his earliest features and least excessive but it remains one of his finest achievements. Alongside the likes of The Devils and Altered States, it cements him as one of our greatest and most distinctive film makers. Visually, the film stuns with images of absolute beauty, sublime editing and sequences like Jackson's dance amongst the cows, the hilarious performance 'in the style of the Russian ballet' (Eleanor Bron stealing every scene she's in), and the infamous nude wrestling scene between Bates and Reed which you watch trance-fixed. It seduces utterly in its sensuality.

The performances are exemplary throughout. It's Glenda Jackson who won an Oscar for her role as Gudrun, a woman whose self discovery proves her to be the most dominant of the four, but she's more than matched by Linden, Bates and a quite amazingly controlled Oliver Reed who gives perhaps the finest performances of his career. Gerald's seemingly controlled and confident life masks a muddy lake of repression and Reed excels at portraying Gerald's inner turmoil.

It was a ground breaking film, pushing the boundaries of what censors would allow. For many, Alan Bates wandering naked and beautiful through a forest would have been the first time they'd seen frontal male nudity on screen and, in the aforementioned wrestling scene, where Bates and Reed strip in front of a roaring fire and wrestle in ever increasingly sweaty and violent shots, the notions of male love and homosexuality are dealt with both erotically and sensitively, their bout followed by a conversation about male love being as pure as that between a man and a woman.

Sensual, emotional, challenging and intellectually stimulating, it remains one of the most powerful scenes in cinema. You still watch it agape, completely unable to imagine any major film stars today embarking on such a scene.

Such is the obvious commitment to the project from its stars, its director and as shown in the remarkable adaptation by Larry Kramer, that not only is Women In Love one of cinema's truly great films, it's one which elevates its celebrated source novel.

An absolutely ravishing masterpiece and essential viewing for anyone who loves cinema.

WOMEN IN LOVE /  CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: KEN RUSSELL / SCREENPLAY: LARRY KRAMER / STARRING: ALAN BATES, OLIVIER REED, GLENDA JACKSON, JENNIE LINDEN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
 


Suggested Articles:
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's is set in the not too distant future of the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise up to that point. Kaib
For those of a certain age and viewing habits, the closing logo for any Stephen J. Cannell-created s
With the fourth season of The CW’s Arrow, Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen faces new, powerful threa
Back in 2011 Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class stunned this reviewer by delivering a jolt of gid
scroll back to top

Add comment

Security code
Refresh

Other articles in DVD / Blu-ray Reviews

YU-GI-OH! 5D'S 20 September 2016

BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP – THE COMPLETE SERIES 20 September 2016

ARROW - SEASON 4 20 September 2016

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS 19 September 2016

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE 19 September 2016

WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE 19 September 2016

THE HILLS HAVE EYES 19 September 2016

EARLY MURNAU – FIVE FILMS (MASTERS OF CINEMA) 19 September 2016

GREEN ROOM 19 September 2016

LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU 19 September 2016

- Entire Category -

Sign up today!
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner

      
      
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
...