Arlecchino Cinema > 18:00


Ken Russell
Introduced by

Angela Allen (script continuity)


Thursday 29/06/2017


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Ken Russell’s first major auteurist feature is a lyrical take on love and death as experienced by a Britain ravaged by WWI. The film, based on the novel by D.H. Lawrence, transposes the action to the period of decadence and emotional turmoil following the First World War, as two couples find themselves caught between the pressure to follow convention and the urge to explore a Bohemian lifestyle. The lush English landscape offers a verdant backdrop as the protagonists engage with nature in a direct and sensuous way, each searching for love but unsure what it means. That ambiguity chimed with late Sixties audiences who possibly came for the erotically-charged naked wrestling scene but stayed for the Oscar-winning performance of Glenda Jackson, Shirley Russell’s vibrant period costumes and the gorgeous imagery and dramatic lighting of cinematographer Billy Williams.

Williams himself supervised this newly remastered version which restores the film’s colour and texture to its full glory.

Josephine Botting

I left a lot of [the book] out because films lasting twenty-four hours are frowned on by distributors and partly because Lawrence simply repeated his theme about the separate-yet-united philosophy of love eight times over in different disguises. I thought twice would be enough in the film for most people to get it. When you read a book you put it down and pick it up again, so I guess Lawrence just had to keep reminding his readers of his point, but if you have to condense it into two hours it’s just not on. It’s the same with some of his other themes. The chapter called ‘Rabbit’, for instance. Some people criticised us for leaving that out, but in essence it says the same thing as the sequence concerning the train and the horse. We did shoot the rabbit scene, in fact, but in the final cut it was obviously superfluous and ended up on the cutting room floor.

Ken Russell, in John Baxter, An Appalling Talent: Ken Russell, Michael Joseph, London 1973

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo di D.H. Lawrence. Scen.: Larry Kramer. F.: Billy Williams. M.: Michael Bradsell. Scgf.: Ken Jones. Mus.: Georges Delerue. Int.: Alan Bates (Rupert Birkin), Oliver Reed (Gerald Crich), Glenda Jackson (Gudrun Brangwen), Jennie Linden (Ursula Brangwen), Eleanor Bron (Hermione Roddice), Alan Webb (Thomas Crich), Vladek Sheybal (Loerke), Catherine Willmer (Laura Crich). Prod.: Larry Kramer, Martin Rosen per Brandywine Productions. DCP. D.: 131’. Col.