Lady Chatterley (2006) View large image
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Film Details

Directed by: Pascale Ferran

Produced: 2006

Countries & Regions: France

DVD Details

Certificate: 18

Length: 161 mins

Format: DVD

Region: Region 2

Released: 14 April 2008

Cat No: ART390DVD

Extras:
Anamorphic (16:9)
Languages(s): French
Subtitles: English
Interactive Menu
Screen ratio 1:1.78
Dolby Digital 5.1

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Lady Chatterley (2006)

Cast: Hippolyte Girardot , Bernard Verley , Marina Hands , Jean-Louis Coulloch , Helene Fillieres , Hélène Alexandridis , Sava Lolov , Jean-Baptiste Montagut , Michel Vincent , Christelle Hes

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Award-winning Fench adaptation of DH Lawrence’s controversial classic about sexual awakening. Trapped in a passionless marriage to an... Read More

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Award-winning Fench adaptation of DH Lawrence’s controversial classic about sexual awakening. Trapped in a passionless marriage to an invalid husband (Hippolyte Girardot) in whose country estate she is isolated, the aristocratic Constance (Marina Hands) finds solace in the taciturn form of gamekeeper Parkin (Jean-Louis Coulloc’h). Despite their different backgrounds and initial disinterest, Parkin unlocks in Constance a previously undiscovered desire, while she coaxes him back from his self-imposed solitude.

Director Pascale Ferran came late to DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. She expected a musty erotic novel. ‘No one had told me it's simply the most beautiful love story in the world’, she said. Research led her to the novel’s more bucolic second version, John Thomas and Lady Jane (the French title Lady Chatterley et l'homme des bois is pertinent here), and it is this that she adapted for the screen.

The background to the central story – Clifford's impotence, his wealth as a mineowner, political disquiet, Connie’s disapproving sister Hilda – are only lightly touched upon; the film’s real emphasis is on the central relationship between the nervy Connie and the taurine gamekeeper Parkin. The casting of Marina Hands and Jean-Louis Coullo’ch as the leads is exemplary, they look right, and there is a halting tremulousness to their awkward, budding relationship that is moving in its honest modesty. Ferran’s film simply and affectingly depicts two people growing to be comfortable with each other’s nakedness, and learning how to give of themselves.

Their relationship is set to the rhythm and sounds of nature, and is grounded in the changing of the seasons. The sound of the film is predominantly that of birdsong, the hum of insects, rain, or as in the early scenes in the cheerless, drab house – all verdigris, eau-de-nil and wood panelling – the awful silence of daylight dragging for Connie, her time marked by the hollow ring of floorboards, the polishing of silver or the starchiness of bedlinen. Getting outside to the springtime woods, for Connie and for us, is a liberation for the senses. (As Polanski located Hardy’s Wessex in Brittany and Normandy in Tess, so Ferran here finds Derbyshire in a lovely part of the Limousin region of France.)

Ferran said that a gentle approach characterised her working method on the film. This is appropriate. Passion is only one element of Connie and Parkin’s relationship, along with respect, understanding and tenderness (the early working title for Lawrence’s book). By the open ending of this positive film about the transformative power of honest sexual love, both characters have been changed for the better. It ends with a single word; ‘Yes’.

I didn’t really expect too much from this movie and hearing the running time was just short of three hours, was fully prepared to leave after getting a flavour of it. How wrong I was, this is a very fine film and doesn’t drag for a moment. It is beautiful, believable and nothing short of a wonderful sexy surprise. All the support acting is measured and helps provide a solid counterbalance for the central couple who gradually learn to let go their inhibitions and slide blissfully from lust to love. It is all very gradually done from Chatterley’s first glimpse of the gamekeeper washing himself outside his hut and her consequent, and at the time seemingly over the top, need to sit to gather her senses, literally; to the powerful scene where she asks him to turn and display his erect penis and the wondrous scenes of the naked couple cavorting ecstatically in the pouring rain. All in all a fine mix of the wonders of nature, the manliness of the hand made, the power of sex and the need for love. The more overt political elements that Lawrence would probably have wanted put more to the fore are probably better dealt with here, kept more in the background. Brave film making, especially at a time when being so positive about ‘sexual healing’ seems so out of vogue.

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