D. H. Lawrence: Fifty Years on Film

By Louis K. Greiff | Go to book overview

Preface

Ten feature-length films based on the life and works of D. H. Lawrence were released over the second half of the twentieth century, beginning with The Rocking Horse Winner in 1949. When I began this book, my goal was to chronicle the fifty-year history of the Lawrence feature film and likewise to interpret and evaluate its results. A complication I encountered early on, however, was the tendency of my subject matter to expand beyond just ten films. There are short Lawrence films as well as features, for example, including a new Rocking Horse Winner, which appeared near the end of the century to beg comparison with its fifty-year-old predecessor.

There are also Lawrence-related television productions, more of them in fact than large-screen films, so that they probably deserve a book of their own. All the same, I found it impossible to keep them out of this book, even though I assured myself that “officially” they were not my major concern. In addition to all the feature films, then, fifteen Lawrence television productions are listed at the end of this volume in a separate videography. Also, a third of these are included for discussion in the chapters that follow on the basis of their interconnectedness with the feature films under primary study. An examination of Ken Russell's 1993 Lady Chatterley for BBC Television, therefore, introduces my seventh chapter, devoted to the long and erratic relationship between Lawrence's final novel and the movies. Similarly, the televised Rainbow and the televised Sons and Lovers are taken up in the chapters devoted to those texts and their adaptations for the large screen. Peter Barber-Fleming's Coming Through, a 1985 television production, is included in the chapter devoted to Christopher Miles's Priest of Love (1981), since both are Lawrence biographies by the same writer, Alan Plater. Finally, a little-known television adaptation of “The Horse-Dealer's Daughter, made for PBS Television in 1984 by the American Film Institute, figures in the conclusion of this study. Its experimentally effective adaptation of the short story provides some indication of where Lawrence may be leading filmmakers in the future or where they may be taking him.

Anyone studying film or film adaptation faces the daunting problem of availability of source material, with television posing an even greater complication

-xiii-

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