The unity within the second novel of D. H. Lawrence that embraces character development, location, symbolism, and incident is preserved in this potent rendering, well-directed by Colin Gregg from a visually accented script penned by Hugh Stoddart, filmed largely on the Isle of Wight, setting of the heart of the novel and an important constituent toward an understanding of the escape from reality that shadows tortured lovers Helena Verden (Pauline Moran) and Siegmund MacNair (Alan Bates). An influence of Nietzsche upon Lawrence as an artist is partly transposed for this film as a totemic element of light, and Gregg and Stoddart, which latter performs a commendable task by interfusing many of a lengthy work's most significant sections into a linear scenario, additionally focus upon the sea and the moon, twin motival subjects of the Wertherian original wherein the lovers become prisoners to romantic passion. Siegmund, an orchestral violinist, has tutored Helena for the past seven years, during which they have fallen in love, although a physical aspect has not been consummated, as Siegmund is married with three children and, notwithstanding his being unhappily so, has not that force of character requisite to alter his posture towards either his wife or lover, so that Helena eventually arranges for the pair to have a five-day idyll upon Wight, since she believes that Siegmund will decide in her favour after they are able to be constant companions. Contrast between an imaginary world of romance and poetically charged emotion is compared by the scenario with mundane actuality, and if Helena's inhibitions and Siegmund's depression are not overcome, their shared desire will remain unrequited, made palpable by the straightforward plot decorated with cogent voiceovers from Siegmund taken directly from the novel's text. No aspect of this English production is arrested by the efforts of any, with exceptional contributions from, in addition to those mentioned, Dinah Stabb as Helena's friend and musical accompanist Louisa; costumer Monica Howe, whose Edwardian garmenture only enhances the striking Pre-Raphaelite quality of Helena; and the sterling sound mixing of David Stephenson that sharply increases the artistic value of a film that should receive wider distribution.
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