In 1838, lovely governess Elisabeth agrees to bear a child of anonymous English landowner, and he will in return pay her father's debt. At birth she, as agreed, gives up the child. Seven ... See full summary »



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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Elisabeth Laurier
Charles Godwin
Dominique Belcourt ...
Louisa Godwin
John Taylor
Lia Williams ...
Lord Clare
Sally Dexter ...
Molly Holland
Emma Amos ...
Maggie McCarthy ...
Mrs. Jago
Wolf Kahler ...
Annabel Giles ...
Amy Godwin
John Flanagan ...
Robert Ames
Valerie Minifie ...
Diana Payan ...
Mrs. Maidment
John Hodgkinson ...


In 1838, lovely governess Elisabeth agrees to bear a child of anonymous English landowner, and he will in return pay her father's debt. At birth she, as agreed, gives up the child. Seven years later she is hired as governess to a girl on a remote Sussex estate. The father of the girl, Charles Godwin, turns out to be that anonymous landowner. So Elisabeth has to be her own daughter's governess, and she can't reveal the secret of her tie with little Louisa. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Passion has no limits


Romance | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality and brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

4 September 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A la luz del fuego  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$236,775 (USA) (11 September 1998)


$784,419 (USA) (25 December 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


At least two young men are shown in the South of England in the 1830s with long hair tied back in a queue, a style unknown in that time and place. See more »


Elisabeth: Shall we start our lessons?
Louisa: I don't have to do what you say. You're just a servant.
Elisabeth: That's enough! Be silent! You will obey me whether you want to or not! You will obey because poor as I am, I am placed in authority over you. You will not speak disrespectfully to me or raise your voice to me.
Louisa: [Taunting] Servant! Servant! Servant! Servant! Servant! Servant! Servant! Servant! Servant! Servant! Servant! Servant! Servant!
See more »

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User Reviews

16 August 2006 | by (PA, USA) – See all my reviews

Just by chance, I selected this film at a time of night when I'm ready for sleep. I watched it once.... then, again but fell asleep thru part of it. Two days later, I watched it again (wide awake this time) and that's when I fell in love with it. The first time.... I admit, it was the titillating story... the child was secondary. The second time.... I wanted to watch Sophie Marceau's delivery of her character. The third time.... I realized that Stephen Dillane's delivery of his character was so nuanced, I missed it the first 2 times. He is what makes this story so wonderful.

Because I am a big fan of British film, I wondered why I was not familiar with Stephen Dillane's name. After some research, I found that I have seen him in some character roles, but nowhere is he as handsome as in this film. Sophie Marceau is so accomplished that together, some of their scenes unfold as a dance.

This film is so delicate, with exquisite timing and phrases, that I can truly say it is as well-done as Campion's The Piano. Elisabeth's shout when she opens the doors to the lake. Godwin's face from recognition to omigod to sweet smile when he sees Elisabeth again. Godwin's explanation that a month with Elisabeth in the house would be an eternity. Their dance at the door when Louisa is screaming to be let out. And many more.

If you love stories of heart-felt deep love, this is it. Just be sure to watch it closely and more than once.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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