Many of the students and staff of Magdalen College, Oxford, England, objected to the restrictions imposed on their movement on the grounds during April and May 1993, especially as it coincided with end of year exams. To prevent a student-led halt in production, a Q & A evening was held in the college bar, with Sir Richard Attenborough, Sir Anthony Hopkins, and Michael Denison.
This movie is, indirectly, descended from the television version, Shadowlands (1985), with Joss Ackland as C.S. Lewis, and Claire Bloom as Joy (Davidman) Gresham. Both were written by William Nicholson, but in-between, Nicholson adapted the television version into a stage play, and then later re-worked the stage play into this version. The two share some differences, for example, as in her real-life, Joy is depicted as having two sons in the original version, whereas she appears to have only one, Douglas, in this one. There are also no scenes of Lewis as a professor in the original, whereas his interaction with one of his students, Peter Whistler, is a fairly prominent subplot in this version.
The scenes of the traditional Mayday celebrations in Oxford, were filmed on the actual night and morning of April 30 to May 1, 1993. On Magdalen Tower were the actual choristers of the college chapel, but with restricted space, due to the minimal crew and camera. Medium shots had been taken of extras in boats on the river, and the intention had been to take long shots of the real-life crowd below. However, an unusual thick low mist made much footage unusable, so the extras were recalled a week later, with others to cover Magdalen Bridge.
The original Broadway production of "Shadowlands" by William Nicholson opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theater on November 11, 1990, ran for one hundred sixty-nine performances, closed on April 7, 1991 and was nominated for the 1991 Tony Award for Best Play.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In real-life, Joy had two sons: Douglas Gresham (who was depicted in this movie) and David Gresham (who was not). David was born in 1944, and Douglas in 1945. After their mother's death, David and Douglas continued to live with their stepfather, C. S. Lewis. In contrast to his mother, stepfather, and younger brother, David was less interested in converting to Christianity, and while still a child living with Lewis, he started to return to Judaism. According to Edwin Brown's book "In Pursuit of C. S. Lewis", Lewis was very supportive of David's interest in Judaism, including finding a kosher butcher to supply his meat.
The books that Jack Lewis (Sir Anthony Hopkins), writing as C.S. Lewis, the preceding two initials stand for Clive Staples, he's known to his friends as Jack, is selling during his book signing are copies of The Silver Chair, part of his popular series The Chronicles of Narnia. Interestingly, this book is the most enigmatic in the series, as the title chair doesn't materialize until near the end of the story, and is featured in only one chapter, "In the Dark Castle".