D. H. Lawrence: Fifty Years on Film

By Louis K. Greiff | Go to book overview

7
Lady Chatterley's Lover:
Filming the Unfilmable

Ken Russell's Lady Chatterley (1993)

As the 1990s would reveal, the end of Russell's Rainbow was not to be the end of his involvement with D. H. Lawrence. In 1993, four years after The Rainbow and almost a quarter century after Women in Love, BBC Television carried his four-episode serialization of Lady Chatterley's Lover, written by Russell in collaboration with Michael Haggiag and retitled Lady Chatterley. 1 This third Lawrentian project established Russell as the most prolific of all the Lawrence directors to date and, for better or worse, as the individual most responsible for presenting and interpreting Lawrence to mass audiences worldwide.

Russell's most recent Lawrence production also turned out to be his most problematic, at least as measured by critical responses from media reviewers and Lawrentians alike. If such commentators recalled Russell's Rainbow as a retreat following Women in Love, they judged this latest venture to be a further loss of artistic ground and even an unintentional parody of the two earlier films. Russell's costuming and choreography, powerfully effective in the past, struck many viewers here as exaggerated to the point of absurdity. One scene in question shows Clifford being propelled into his mine in a coal cart, dressed in full military uniform (with medals) in order to intimidate his colliers into ending a strike. Another scene, after Connie and Hilda have joined their father on holiday, depicts but does not explain a costume ball during which Connie and her friends discuss serious matters while dressed as Renaissance princesses, cardinals, and kings. Russell's nepotism in casting, carried over from The Rainbow, was also noticed

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