D. H. Lawrence: Fifty Years on Film

By Louis K. Greiff | Go to book overview
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9
Priest of Love: A Last Look Back, a First Look Ahead

Christopher Miles's Priest of Love offers a divergent yet fitting subject for the conclusion of this study by being both unique and representative at the same time. Of the ten Lawrence feature productions released since 1949, Priest of Love is the only biography and the only film not grounded in a particular work of fiction. 1 All the same, Miles's Priest reveals close ties to the other Lawrence productions by way of their shared preoccupations and also by way of their shared writers and directors. Priest is the second of three Lawrence scripts by Alan Plater, for instance, following The Virgin and the Gypsy in 1970 and preceding Coming Through, an account of Lawrence's early life directed by Peter Barber-Fleming for BBC-TV in 1986. 2 In fact, if film and television can be spliced together momentarily here, Coming Through and Priest constitute Plater's rather complete screen biography of Lawrence, with the television production ending in 1912 and the film picking up in 1914, then shifting its focus to the final years of Lawrence's life. Priest turns out to be one of three Lawrence projects by Christopher Miles, although only two of them have been completed. Miles had been Plater's director a decade before Priest, when the two worked together on Virgin. Miles had also attempted an adaptation of The Plumed Serpent, a film which he was eventually forced to abandon.

Priest of Love belongs to another kind of trilogy as well, separate from the efforts of any single writer or director exploring his interest in Lawrence. Despite being the only large-screen biography to date, Priest remains part of a wider Lawrence revival that took place in the 1980s, the centennial decade of his birth. This revival (at least in the media) shifted emphasis away from his works, where

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