Lady Chatterley (1992)
Review by HTQ4

Written by Ken Russell and Michael Haggiag, based on the novels of D.H. Lawrence
Original Songs & Music by Jean-Claude Petit
Directed by Ken Russell
Starring Joely Richardson, Sean Bean, James Wilby, Shirley Anne Field, Hetty Baynes


Released by: Acorn Media
Rating: NR (strong sexual content)
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Rent it before you buy it

Lady Chatterley (Richardson) has been keeping the home fires burning for her husband (Wilby) while he was off fighting the war. However, upon his return, he has changed. He has been wounded and that wound has left him paralyzed from the waist down. Other than the fact that he will never walk again, there is another factor at stake for them: he can never perform his husbandly duties so that she might perform hers and present him with an heir to his fortune and estate. So, he suggests that perhaps it would be best if she were able to perform her wifely duties under the care of another man. Enter Mellors (Bean), who is the gamekeeper of the Chatterley estate. Lady Chatterley becomes enamored of him and he of her, so they begin a love affair that will cross not only the grounds of the Chatterley estate, but the lines of social status as well.

This has to be one of the best period dramas that has come out of Britain in some time. The story is intriguing and does not let you go until the very end. I have not read the novel(s), but I would imagine that this is a very good adaptation from page to screen. Let me explain what I mean by novel(s). This novel was considered entirely too controversial to be published when it was first written. In fact, it wasn't until 1959 that it was published in the United States. However, by that time, Lawrence had already written two revisions of the story that added and changed quite a bit. I'm sure that this made it quite an interesting challenge to adapt into a screenplay. But, I digress...

Bean and Richardson are absolute fire on screen. They both bring an overt sexuality that oozes out of every pore of their bodies--and this happens in almost every frame of the film. Bean is at times hard and rugged; and at others he is open, caring and deeply in love with Lady Chatterley. Richardson, however, would have to be the stand-out performance in this series. She really brings the sense of a time period where women are just beginning to find their voice as individuals, but yet she is hanging on to her duty to provide an heir for her lord and master. Her sensuality, as well as her sexuality, are a very powerful force and the whole thing plays beautifully. That having been said, this is not the kind of movie that you would want to watch with the little kiddos around. The sex scenes are beautifully shot, but they don't leave a lot to the imagination. This is not a criticism, indeed, the movie is about sexuality that has been repressed not only by society, but also by a woman who had only had relations with her husband once before he went off to war.

Even though the DVD is not big on quantity, it is huge on quality. First of all, the interview with Russell is outstanding. Russell is looking back on this miniseries over almost ten years. This is not an interview that is edited together from a much longer interview. This seems to be the full interview, complete with the interviewer (off camera) asking the questions. The rest of the DVD is not that exciting, but worth looking at, anyway. The biography of D.H. Lawrence consists of about ten or so still screens that you can read through. I know it doesn't sound that great, but the information presented really makes it clear where the story of Lady Chatterley comes from in his own life. It doesn't take you that long to get through and it's just very good. There are only fifteen shots in the Behind-the-scenes Photo Gallery and they are not very easy to look at. They didn't size them right for the screen, so it's difficult to tell what you are looking at in some cases. The cast and crew filmographies are no stranger to a DVD, and there are no surprises within them here.

The series is worth owning, especially if you are a fan of a good period drama. Still, if you are not sure, rent it and try it out. You won't be disappointed.

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