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The battle of the sexes and relationships among the elite of Britain's industrial Midlands in the 1920s. Gerald Crich and Rupert Berkin are best friends who fall in love with a pair of sisters Gudrun, a sculptress and Ursula Brangwen, a schoolteacher. Rupert marries Ursula, Gerald begins a love affair with Gudrun, and the foursome embarks upon a Swiss honeymoon. But the relationships take markedly different directions, as Russell explores the nature of commitment and love. Rupert and Ursula learn to give themselves to each other; the more withdrawn Gerald cannot, finally, connect with the demanding and challenging Gudrun. Written by
Ken Russell's adaptation of D. H. Lawrence's novel Women in Love is one of my favorite films. It explores the hearts and minds, personalities, and philosophies of four intelligent and educated young people in the beginning of 20-th century and their romantic relationships (heterosexual and homosexual, friendship, love and desire). They are played by Alan Bates, Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson, and Jennie Linden.
Glenda Jackson who was relatively unknown at the time won her first Oscar for a magnificent performance in a most difficult role: her Gudrun is not a likable character, she is an self-centered predator, but she is honest and very interesting. I read some comments that she was not beautiful. Well, she may not have been pretty but I believe there is more than prettiness to make a woman loved, and admired otherwise a lot of women in this world would never be able to learn the feeling. Gudrun's intelligence, strong character, and self-confidence make her very attractive and desirable.
The film has many unforgettable scenes with two that stand alone after all these years. First of them is one of the most provocative and delightful sexual scenes ever filmed. It takes place during a picnic. Alan Bates dressed in a light white suite describes to the others how to eat a fig. He carefully holds it, and then pulls it open while he compares the process to a woman and looks teasingly at shy Ursula, Gudrun's sister (Jennie Linden). This little scene is as powerful as a famous wrestling scene, even though everybody who saw the film would recall the wrestling scene as a most memorable in "Women in Love".
The wrestling in the nude was Lawrence's (and Russell's ) solution to allow two men to relieve the horror and dreadfulness of the drowning tragedy that occurred shortly before. The scene takes place for long time, 5-10 minutes, with the fire from fireplace highlighting Reed's and Bate's bodies as each struggles against the other. The scene is extremely sensual but whether they engaged in sex or not we don't know
This is a very special film that has not lost its beauty and appeal now even though it was made over 35 years ago. Extraordinarily striking and highly sensual, it is a must see for anyone truly interested in film.
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