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The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  August 1981 (UK)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 7,629 users  
Reviews: 55 user | 24 critic

A film is being made of a story, set in 19th century England, about Charles, a biologist who's engaged to be married, but who falls in love with outcast Sarah, whose melancholy makes her ... See full summary »

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Title: The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)

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Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Hilton McRae ...
Sam
Emily Morgan ...
Mary
Charlotte Mitchell ...
Mrs. Tranter
...
Ernestina
Jean Faulds ...
Cook
...
Mr. Freeman
Colin Jeavons ...
Vicar
Liz Smith ...
Mrs. Fairley
Patience Collier ...
Mrs. Poulteney
John Barrett ...
Dairyman
...
Dr. Grogan
Arabella Weir ...
Girl on Undercliff
Ben Forster ...
Boy on Undercliff
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Storyline

A film is being made of a story, set in 19th century England, about Charles, a biologist who's engaged to be married, but who falls in love with outcast Sarah, whose melancholy makes her leave him after a short, but passionate affair. Anna and Mike, who play the characters of Sarah and Charles, go, during the shooting of the film, through a relationship that runs parallel to that of their characters. Written by Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She was lost from the moment she saw him.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

August 1981 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

La amante del teniente francés  »

Box Office

Gross:

SEK 4,392,234 (Sweden)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Wendy Morgan was offered the role of Mary but accepted a stage play instead. See more »

Goofs

Early in the film, as Charles is going on to the jetty to warn Sarah, his cape changes in how it is buttoned from shot to shot. See more »

Quotes

Sarah: I have set myself beyond the pale. I am nothing. I am hardly human any more.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Prelude in C minor
by Johann Sebastian Bach
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Narrative Folding
18 August 2000 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

Haunting environments, two of the century's greatest film actors, one of the half-dozen or so best modern playwrights and Fowles' experiment in parallel narratives. Fowles' work was pale compared to Nabokov's "Pale Fire," for instance in building a convoluted, layered narrative, but is comparable in extent. Here, Pinter's obsession with time refines the vision -- his "Proust Screenplay," also centered on layered time, is much studied and admired.

Everything clicks here. Gorton's designs are detailed and hypnotizing, especially the use of the Lyme groin and related tunnel-like streets. Francis' camera (after "Elephant Man") captures a dim grey sky, made sharp in modern sequences. With the director, they have contrived to quote great paintings. In particular, the first shot after the three year search when Irons gets the telegram directly and obviously references a famous Monet painting -- in fact the first impressionistic painting, a turning point in the artist's perspective. Davis' music -- the only thing that spans time -- supports.

And Meryl is lovely, but so different in each role. We really wonder if her modern madness created the modern affair in quest of the perfect chemistry for the Sarah role It makes Sarah's imagination deeper and more self-referential than in the book. One scene is uniquely masterful: the modern actors "walk" through a scene, then they do it again. Streep turns on, "steps into" the role and becomes Sarah, and a moment later, she pulls the whole scene into the past. This will stick with you, I promise.

The director, Reisz, is supposed to have suggested the concept to Pinter, and then attracted the very best. His tightness of vision is apparent. I wish he were still making films. In a sense he is: he literally "wrote the book" on modern film editing.


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