IMDb > Sylvia (2003)
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Sylvia (2003) More at IMDbPro »

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Sylvia -- Trailer for Sylvia
Sylvia -- hv post


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John Brownlow (screenplay)
View company contact information for Sylvia on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
31 October 2003 (USA) See more »
Life was too small to contain her...
Story of the relationship between the poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
A Hijacked Life and an Insightful Biopic See more (99 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)
David Birkin ... Morecambe

Alison Bruce ... Elizabeth

Amira Casar ... Assia Wevill

Daniel Craig ... Ted Hughes

Blythe Danner ... Aurelia Plath

Lucy Davenport ... Doreen

Julian Firth ... James Michie
Jeremy Fowlds ... Mr. Robinson

Michael Gambon ... Professor Thomas

Sarah Guyler ... Ted's Cambridge Girlfriend

Jared Harris ... Al Alvarez

Andrew Havill ... David Wevill
Theresa Healey ... 3rd Woman at Ted Hughes' Lecture
Liddy Holloway ... Martha Bergstrom

Robyn Malcolm ... 1st Woman at Ted Hughes' Lecture
Michael Mears ... Charles Langridge
Siobhan Page ... Young American Girl Student

Gwyneth Paltrow ... Sylvia Plath
Derek Payne ... Vicar
Sonia Ritter ... Midwife
Billy Seymour ... Telegram Boy
Antony Strachan ... Michael Boddy
Katherine Tozer ... Myra Norris

Sam Troughton ... Tom Hadley-Clarke
Eliza Wade ... Infant Frieda

Ben Want ... Baby Nicholas

Joel Want ... Baby Nicholas
Hannah Watkins ... Tom's Girlfriend

Tandi Wright ... 2nd Woman at Ted Hughes' Lecture
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Rhys Bond ... Book launch guest (uncredited)
David House ... Dancer (uncredited)
James Hurn ... Shepherd (uncredited)

Directed by
Christine Jeffs 
Writing credits
John Brownlow (screenplay)

Produced by
Jane Barclay .... executive producer
Tim Cole .... line producer: additional shoot unit
Ian Gibbons .... line producer
Sharon Harel .... executive producer
Robert Jones .... executive producer
Alison Owen .... producer
Mary Richards .... line producer
Phil Rymer .... associate producer
Tracey Scoffield .... executive producer
Neris Thomas .... co-producer
David M. Thompson .... executive producer
Original Music by
Gabriel Yared 
Cinematography by
John Toon 
Film Editing by
Tariq Anwar 
Casting by
Karen Lindsay-Stewart 
Production Design by
Maria Djurkovic 
Art Direction by
Jane Cecchi 
Joanna Foley 
John Hill 
Ken Turner 
Set Decoration by
Philippa Hart 
Costume Design by
Sandy Powell 
Makeup Department
Michele Barber .... additional hair stylist
Michele Barber .... additional makeup artist
Anita Brolly .... makeup artist
Denise Kum .... hair stylist
Denise Kum .... makeup artist
Dominie Till .... hair stylist
Dominie Till .... makeup artist
Production Management
Meg Clark .... post-production supervisor
Su Hucks .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Caroline Chapman .... third assistant director
William Dodds .... third assistant director: dailies
Carlos Fidel .... second assistant director
Candy Marlowe .... crowd second assistant director
Richard Styles .... first assistant director
Art Department
Nicola Barnes .... production buyer
John Bohan .... construction manager
Dean Clegg .... draftsman
Paul Frost .... assistant art director
Tom Martin .... assistant construction manager (as Thomas Martin)
Anthony Szuch .... drapes master
Nick Turnbull .... props
Clive Ward .... head scenic painter
Sound Department
Christopher Ackland .... supervising sound editor
Paul Carr .... re-recording mixer
John Casali .... boom operator
David Crozier .... sound mixer
Phillip A. Hamilton .... adr recordist
James Harris .... sound assistant
David Madigan .... sound mixer: New Zealand unit
Michael Miller .... adr mixer
Nigel Mills .... supervising dialogue editor
Nathaniel Méchaly .... sound programmer
Jamie Roden .... adr mixer
Nigel Stone .... sound editor
Andy Thompson .... re-recording mixer
Hugo Tichborne .... boom operator
Richard Welsh .... dolby sound consultant
Special Effects by
Dave Crownshaw .... snow effects supervisor
David Johns .... snow effects trainee
Stephen Shelley .... snow effects technician
Lucien Stephenson .... snow effects technician
Neil Toddy Todd .... special effects technician
Visual Effects by
Mark Curtis .... digital compositor
Stefan Drury .... visual effects producer
Douglas Larmour .... digital compositor
Stuart Lashley .... digital compositor
Jessica Norman .... visual effects supervisor
Sally Spencer .... visual effects coordinator
Niki Wakefield .... digital compositor
Tom Wood .... visual effects supervisor
Dayna Grant .... stunt double: Gwyneth Paltrow (as Dayna Porter)
Steve Griffin .... stunts
Allan Poppleton .... stunt double: Daniel Craig
Camera and Electrical Department
David Appleby .... still photographer
Harry Bowers .... second assistant camera
Chuck Finch .... gaffer
Stephen Finch .... electrician
Wick Finch .... electrician
Oli Harris .... grip
Bill Kaye .... still photographer
Alison Lai .... clapper loader: second unit
Joe McGee .... practical electrician
Billy Merrell .... rigging gaffer
Richard Merrell .... electrician
Peter Versey .... camera operator: second unit
Casting Department
Buffy Hall .... casting assistant
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Emily Barr .... wardrobe assistant
Andrew Hunt .... costume assistant
Vivienne Jones .... costume assistant
Joe Kowalewski .... wardrobe assistant
Linda Lashley .... costumer
Kay Manasseh .... assistant costume designer
Sophie Norinder .... crowd dresser
Jenny Rushton .... personal costumer
Sunita Singh .... costume assistant
Clare Spragge .... costume supervisor
Editorial Department
Saska Simpson .... first assistant editor
Location Management
Rebecca Chambers .... location scout
Philip Clark .... location scout
Adam Richards .... location manager
Ben Rimmer .... location manager
Clayton Tikao .... location manager: North Island
Music Department
Jean-Pierre Arquié .... music supervisor (as Jean-Pierre Arquie)
John Bell .... orchestrator
Peter Cobbin .... music recorded and mixed by
Sophie Cornet .... music editor
Isobel Griffiths .... orchestra contractor
Nick Ingman .... orchestrator
Steve Mair .... musician: double bass
Bruce White .... viola
Jonathan Williams .... musician: cello
Transportation Department
Michael Geary .... action vehicle supplier: Motorhouse
Steve Mitchard .... driver: Daniel Craig (uncredited)
Other crew
Matt Curtis .... title designer
Patsy de Lord .... production coordinator
Cathy Doubleday .... script supervisor
Nick Hussey .... production assistant
Claudia Kalindjian .... unit publicist
Charlotte Keating .... production assistant
Alana McGowan .... production assistant
Jack Murphy .... choreographer
Samar Pollitt .... set runner
Luke Randolph .... completion guarantor: for International Film Guarantors
Isaac Sananes .... assistant accountant
Nick Savva .... production finance coordinator
Joan Scheckel .... script editor (as Joan E Scheckel)
Joan Scheckel .... script editor
Shruti Shah .... production accountant
Emily Ann Sonnet .... production runner
Nicki Sung .... development executive
David Theodore .... oboe soloist
Jenny Turner .... assistant to actor
Faye Ward .... assistant to producer
Rachel Wardlow .... production assistant
Tonia Wright .... assistant: Christine Jeffs
Francesca Franklyn .... script editor (uncredited)
Michael J. Harker .... completion bond company representative (uncredited)
Amy Irvine .... utility stand-in: dailies (uncredited)
Al Alvarez .... special thanks
Isabel Begg .... special thanks
Will Evans .... special thanks
Vince Holden .... special thanks
Kevin Hyman .... special thanks
Hannah Leader .... special thanks
James Schamus .... special thanks
Elizabeth Sigmund .... special thanks
Glenn Williamson .... special thanks
Jane Wright .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated R for sexuality/nudity and language
110 min | USA:100 min | Canada:114 min
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

During some of the filming, Gwyneth Paltrow stayed in Q staircase of Tree Court, Gonville & Caius College as this was only a few minutes away from the mocked-up old street at the back of Caius.See more »
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): When Ted Hughes says "It reminds me of my days in Mytholmroyd" he doesn't pronounce it correctly, saying "MITH-um-royd" instead of "MY-thum-royd".See more »
[first lines]
Sylvia:Sometimes I dream the tree, and the tree is my life. One branch is the man I shall marry, and the leaves my children. Another branch is my future as a writer, and each leaf is a poem. Another branch is a good academic career. But as I sit there trying to choose, the leaves bring to turn brown and blow away, until the tree is absolutely bare.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Music by Gabriel Yared (2007) (V)See more »


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44 out of 48 people found the following review useful.
A Hijacked Life and an Insightful Biopic, 19 October 2003

Film biographies of cultural figures - art, music, literature - differ from those focused on great events and the men and women who either led others or contributed to the hallmarks of history. For a start, figures in the arts have nowhere near the broad drawing power of, say, a General Patton whose controversial larger than life war record is placed in a setting where there are many other important figures, all engaged in very documented and perennially debated actions.

In 1998, "Hilary and Jackie" explored alleged episodes in the short life of cellist Jacqueline Du Pre and her pianist, now also conductor, husband, Daniel Barenboim. Despite very very good acting the film was largely a descent into the basement of scurrilous storytelling by relatives of the dead musician. Whatever the truth of the claim that she bedded her sister's husband, the movie said nothing about the couple's meteorically brilliant early careers. It was slanted voyeurism writ large.

Director Christine Wells has taken a very different and insightful tack in exploring the life of poet Sylvia Plath and her marriage to Ted Hughes, a poet with laurels garnered while Ms. Plath was still starting up a not very steady ladder to recognition.

Plath, an American, met Hughes in England. A short courtship was followed by marriage and then two children. The relationship was tumultuous and eventually it foundered because of Sylvia's underlying emotional instability followed by her husband's desertion to another woman.

Sylvia had tried suicide at least once before meeting Hughes and she succeeded in 1963, not that many years after they met. Whatever fame she achieved in her life has been eclipsed by what can only be described as a cottage industry of people studying her relationship with Hughes, an activity more important to some than her very fine poems and her most famous book, a novel, "The Bell Jar." In short, the real Sylvia Plath, whoever she was, has been hijacked.

Wells takes a sympathetic view of Ted and Sylvia, not joining in the political debate over feminism and Sylvia's supposed maltreatment by Ted. Sylvia in this film is brilliant but also terribly brittle and her inner demons are not caused by a brutish or callous husband. As Platrow portrays her, I believe accurately, Sylvia was seriously and chronically depressed with life events worsening but in no regard initiating a downward spiral. Today she would probably thrive and be both prolific as a poet and happy as a person if successfully maintained on an effective anti-depressant.

Ted, played by Daniel Craig, is a bit transparent - loving but somewhat distanced by his own quest for fame. He hectors Sylvia to write more, annoyed that she bakes instead of composing verse while on a seaside vacation. He's supportive but also blind to the deepening reality that he is dealing with a woman who needs help, not critical comments about non-productivity.

The supporting cast is fine but this is Paltrow and Craig's film. She has a strong affinity for England and its culture (I believe she has moved there) and she gives the role deep conviction and understanding. It happens that she somewhat resembles Sylvia but the true recognition is internal and intellectual. And emotional, let's not omit that.

Hughes essentially inherited his wife's estate and there's no question that he, like Daniel Barenboim after Jacqueline Du Pre's death, received a mixed blessing. He superintended the posthumous publication of "Ariel," one of Sylvia's most enduring legacies. A man who only wanted to be a first-rate poet, he became (and still is post mortem) the subject of arguments as to his treatment of Sylvia and his responsibility for her taking her life.

"Sylvia" sets the record straight as Paltrow acts the part of a woman - mother as well as poet - who slowly loses control of her life while her husband reacts first with confusion and later with the self-protective armor of withdrawal.

Hughes went on to publish many fine poems and he became poet laureate of England, a post he definitely wanted and enjoyed (Hughes was one of the very few modern and relatively young intellectuals who was a convinced monarchist).

Not long before succumbing to cancer, Hughes published "Birthday Letters," an attempt to show through years of verse the nature of his relationship with Sylvia. Whether viewed as an apologia or a last record - and chance - to give his side, it's an impressive work. And "Ariel's Gift" by Erica Wagner is must reading for those who want more than a film and sometimes potted articles can provide. It analyzes the poets' relationship through the prism of Hughes's writings, most unpublished before "Birthday Letters." A recent book, "Her Husband: Hughes and Plath, Portrait of a Marriage," by Diane Middlebrook, is also recommended.

Incidentally, the film accurately shows Sylvia's suicide preparations which included putting breakfast next to her little kids' beds before opening their window wide and sealing their door so the gas she employed to dispatch herself wouldn't harm them. I've read articles where her adulators remark on this as evidence of her loving and solicitous nature. Rubbish. The gas supplied at that time would have blown the whole building sky high if anyone, through ringing a doorbell or smoking a cigarette, had introduced a spark into her flat. Anyone surviving such a suicide attempt under those facts would surely be prosecuted today.

The film score is very intrusive, signaling when important things are happening. The dialogue and Paltrow and Craig's faces do that very well.


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