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Iris (2001)

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True story of the lifelong romance between novelist Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley, from their student days through her battle with Alzheimer's disease.



(books), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 31 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Siobhan Hayes ...
Check-Out Girl
Young Janet Stone
Joan Bakewell ...
BBC Presenter
Dr. Gudgeon
Tom Mannion ...
Young Maurice (as Sam West)


Iris, based on the life of revered British writer and philosopher Iris Murdoch, is a story of unlikely yet enduring love. As a young academic, teaching philosophy at Oxford, Murdoch meets and eventually falls in love with fellow professor John Bayley, a man whose awkwardness seems in stark opposition to the spirited self-confidence of his future wife. The story unfolds as snippets of time, seen through Bayley's eyes. He recalls their first encounter over 40 years ago, activities they enjoyed doing together, and Iris' charismatic and individualistic personality. These images portray Murdoch as a vibrant young woman with great intellect and are contrasted with the novelist's later life, after the effects of Alzheimer's disease have ravaged her. Murdoch's great mind deteriorates until she is reduced to a mere vestige of her former self, unable to perform simple tasks and completely reliant on her at times frustrated yet devoted husband. Written by kem

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Her greatest talent was for life


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

29 March 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch  »


Box Office


$5,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$23,144, 16 December 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,292,119, 9 August 2015
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film also marks the second time that Judi Dench, and another actress playing the same part, have both been nominated for an Oscar. Previously, Dench won Best Supporting Actress for playing Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love (1998), the same year that Cate Blanchett was nominated for playing the part in Elizabeth (1998). See more »


When Iris and John go to visit Maurice Charlton, a reflection of the camera lighting is seen on the inside of the front door. See more »


Iris Murdoch: [pep-talking herself] Keep working, keep talking, keep the words coming.
John Bayley: Keep at it.
Iris Murdoch: I should feel like a deprived animal if I can't write. I'm like a starved dog.
John Bayley: No, keep at it. I'll keep you at it.
[turns on the desk lamp]
Iris Murdoch: I feel... as if I'm sailing into darkness.
See more »


Featured in Zomergasten: Episode #20.4 (2007) See more »


How Much is that Doggie in the Window
Composed by Bob Merrill
(c) Golden Bell Songs / Intersong (USA) Inc
By kind permission of Warner / Chappell Music Ltd
Co-publisher John Maset Music & Media
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User Reviews

Beautifully told but incomplete
22 August 2002 | by See all my reviews

"Iris" tells of British novelist Iris Murdoch and her husband as they struggle together with her Alzheimer's affliction. The couple is portrayed in youth by Winslet and Bonneville and in old age by Dench and Broadbent with all delivering sterling performances. The plaintive and wistful story is told through interleaving scenes of the older couple's struggle with moments from the younger couple's life. As far as it goes, the film is an excellent product. What it doesn't deliver, however, is a deep sense of Murdoch, her philosophies and complexities of thought thereby giving greater depth to the character and a sense of the significance of what she is losing. In short, the film dwells too much on the disease and too little on the woman. Recommended for more mature viewers (B+)

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