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In 17th-century France, Father Urbain Grandier seeks to protect the city of Loudun from the corrupt establishment of Cardinal Richelieu. Hysteria occurs within the city when he is accused of witchcraft by a sexually repressed nun.
The battle of the sexes and relationships among the elite of Britian'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 Rupert and Ursula learn to give themselves to each other; the more withdrawn Gerald cannot, finally, connect with the demanding and challenging Gudrun.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
This faithful adaptation by Ken Russell of one of D.H. Lawrence's best works is just as powerful & just as profound now, over 30 years after its initial release. The story is set in England a few years after World War I, at a time when many women of marriageable age were forced to examine their assumptions about relationships. When the Brangwen sisters complain about the lack of men, it's true. Many of the men who should have been available to them were lost in the war.
The film was made @ the dawn of the women's movement, once again a time when many women of a certain age were driven to examine their own assumptions about relationships, and looked to Lawrence (& then to Russell) for answers to questions beyond words.
This is not to deny the importance of the men in this story. Both Rupert & Gerald are drawn to the kind of women who ask these questions. Both of them have a myriad of other choices, but they're not satified by less.
So Russell finds a visual way to tell this story, & much of it would seem to be "over the top" were it not so obviously sincere & courageous. Glenda Jackson, a relative unknown at the time, won her first Oscar. We agree. She gives an extraordinary performance in a most difficult role: Gudrun is not likeable, but she IS honest.
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