D. H. Lawrence: Fifty Years on Film

By Louis K. Greiff | Go to book overview

6
Ken Russell's The Rainbow:
Repetition as Regression

In the portion of Filming Literature devoted to D. H. Lawrence on screen, Neil Sinyard made two comments about The Rainbow, both speculations, since Ken Russell's film adaptation of that novel would not appear for another three years. First, Sinyard predicted correctly that on film “Ursula's encounter with the horses towards the end of The Rainbow …without the accompanying psychological analysis, would probably simply look like someone being frightened, quite reasonably, at the possibility of being stampeded. ” 1 Despite the unfilmability of this crucial scene in Sinyard's view, he went on to conclude his condemnation of Russell's Women in Love by offering the more dubious prediction that “The Rainbow would suit Russell better. ” 2

Russell certainly shared Sinyard's opinion during the 1980s concerning the suitability of Lawrence's earlier novel to his own cinematic talents. He had a film version of The Rainbow in mind for at least a decade before its 1989 release. He and his second wife, Vivian, wrote the screenplay in the early 1980s, then struggled to find a producer. 3The Rainbow was eventually taken on by Vestron Pictures, although with an austere budget of two million pounds, which limited filming to just over seven weeks and which also required several reductions of Russell's original plans for the project. 4

Several cast and crew members from Women in Love returned to work on The Rainbow. Billy Williams was once again director of photography (with his work on Gandhi coming in between the two Lawrence projects), and Russell's close friend Luciana Arrighi was production designer. Christopher Gable, who had played Tibby, the young bridegroom, now appeared as Will Brangwen, a much

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