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The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)

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A film is being made of a story, set in 19th century England, about Charles, a biologist who's engaged to be married, but who falls in love with outcast Sarah, whose melancholy makes her ... See full summary »

Director:

Karel Reisz

Writers:

John Fowles (novel), Harold Pinter (screenplay)
Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Meryl Streep ... Sarah and Anna
Jeremy Irons ... Charles and Mike
Hilton McRae Hilton McRae ... Sam
Emily Morgan Emily Morgan ... Mary
Charlotte Mitchell Charlotte Mitchell ... Mrs. Tranter
Lynsey Baxter ... Ernestina
Jean Faulds Jean Faulds ... Cook
Peter Vaughan ... Mr. Freeman
Colin Jeavons ... Vicar
Liz Smith ... Mrs. Fairley
Patience Collier ... Mrs. Poulteney
John Barrett ... Dairyman
Leo McKern ... Dr. Grogan
Arabella Weir ... Girl on Undercliff
Ben Forster ... Boy on Undercliff
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Storyline

A film is being made of a story, set in 19th century England, about Charles, a biologist who's engaged to be married, but who falls in love with outcast Sarah, whose melancholy makes her leave him after a short, but passionate affair. Anna and Mike, who play the characters of Sarah and Charles, go, during the shooting of the film, through a relationship that runs parallel to that of their characters. Written by Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She was lost from the moment she saw him.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 October 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La amante del teniente francés See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$22,600,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Juniper Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A number of directors were attached to the production prior to Karel Reisz who attempted to adapt, develop and find a filmic approach for the big screen for John Fowles' complex source novel. These directors included Mike Nichols, Milos Forman, Robert Bolt, Sidney Lumet, Richard Lester, Fred Zinnemann, Lindsay Anderson, Franklin J. Schaffner, John Frankenheimer and Michael Cacoyannis (aka Michael Cacoyannis). None of these directors were able to come up with a workable screenplay nor a workable perspective for a picture. See more »

Goofs

Early in the film when Charles takes a horse-drawn carriage to visit Ernestine the horse changes between shots (confirmed by the number of "stocking" feet it has). See more »

Quotes

Sarah: [describing how she became the French Lieutenant's mistress] He took me to a private sitting room, ordered food. But... he had changed. He was full of smiles and caresses, but... I knew at once that he was insincere. I saw that I had been... an amusement for him. Nothing more. I saw all this within... five minutes of our meeting. Yet I stayed.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Sneak Previews: The Best of 1981 (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Adagio from Sonata in D, K 576
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (as Mozart)
Played by John Lill
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
An inspiration to Goths everywhere
19 August 2000 | by kzoofilmSee all my reviews

If you're researching the beginnings of today's Goth movement, be sure to look at this complex tale of Sarah Woodruff (Meryl Streep), a secretive, pale-skinned outcast in a 19th century English coastal town. Known to the locals as "poor tragedy," she sketches spooky self-portraits, always dresses in black and haunts the sea wall waiting for the return of a Frenchman who seduced and abandoned her. With a single, unforgettable look and such dialogue as "my only happiness is when I sleep; when I wake, the nightmare begins," Sarah bewitches visiting Londoner Charles Smithson (Jeremy Irons, in what turned out to be his big break), a paleontologist and "gentleman of leisure." The tricky screenplay by Harold Pinter contrasts the story of Sarah and Charles with the lives of actors Mike and Anna, who are playing them in a film. Offscreen, Anna is anything but Victorian, indulging in an on-location affair with Mike while her husband is away. The contrasts between the two couples born 100 years apart make for one of the most intriguing films of the early 1980s, and the performances by Irons and Streep are predictably outstanding.


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