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Shadowlands (1985)

Noted author and scholar finds love, then must endure its loss...


Norman Stone


William Nicholson, Norman Stone (creator)
3 wins. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Joss Ackland ... C.S. Lewis
Claire Bloom ... Joy Davidman
David Waller David Waller ... Warnie Lewis
Rupert Baderman Rupert Baderman ... Douglas
Rhys Hopkins Rhys Hopkins ... David
Alan MacNaughtan ... Christopher Riley
Philip Stone ... Harry Harrington
Tim Preece Tim Preece ... Alan Gregg
Norman Rutherford Norman Rutherford ... Paxford
John Ringham ... Doctor
Henry Moxon Henry Moxon ... Solicitor
Michael Cunningham Michael Cunningham ... Registrar
Max Harvey Max Harvey ... Radio Announcer (voice)
Jim Kirby Jim Kirby ... Father Fisher
Dilys Price Dilys Price ... Sister
Learn more

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Renowned author, Christian apologist, and Oxford medieval scholar C.S. Lewis agrees to marry the divorced American poet Joy Davidman Gresham, to allow her and her two sons to stay in England. But what began as an act of charity by the confirmed bachelor becomes a deep and abiding love and they marry again, "before God." Alas, Joy becomes gravely ill... Written by yortsnave

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Did You Know?


Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom also both appear in Queenie (1987), Mad Dogs and Englishmen (1995), Tales from the Madhouse (2000), and notably provide voices in the animated film The Princess and the Goblin (1991), based on the novel by George MacDonald. C.S. Lewis was greatly influenced by MacDonald's fantasy writings and spiritual insights. See more »


[first lines]
C.S. Lewis: Why am I so afraid? I never knew that love could hurt so much. Yet I love you, and all I want is to love you. Beyond every door, I hear your voice saying to me, 'This is only the land of shadows. Real life hasn't begun yet.'
See more »

Alternate Versions

92-minute television version and 73-minute "abridged" version are available on DVD. The abridged version includes on-screen titles such as "January 1950" and "Two Years Later" at various points in the film. The time difference is made of cuts at the beginning of the film. 92-minute version opens with Jack at the college with a voice-over and the camera passing through a wardrobe. Another long section of cuts start when Jack is walking and reading Joy's letter, the letter is longer and includes a poem. Jack then goes into a classroom and lectures, and later returns home for tea with Warnie. After Joy and Jack's first meeting, scenes of them walking and talking around Oxford is longer. She arrives at his house with her boys, and they play chess with Warnie. Other cut scenes include Jack at a pub with his friends, and finding Douglas reading in the attic for the first time. Jack also tells Joy about when his mother died. And Joy goes to the college for a party and meets Jack's colleagues. The Christmas they spend together also includes a scene of a toast before they leave. Another section of cuts show Jack's life at the college (montage partly included in the opening credits of the abridged version), more scenes of him speaking to students, and talking to Christopher. In a final cut scene, the gardener asks Jack to come outside and he is surprised to find Joy has returned to England. Joy moves into her new house at the 36 minute mark in the full version and at the 17 minute mark of the abridged version, no cuts noted after that. See more »


Remade as Shadowlands (1993) See more »

User Reviews

More informative but less emotional than the Hollywood version.
16 May 2005 | by sue-molendaSee all my reviews

This version did not move me as deeply as the later, Hollywood version starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. While it was beautifully filmed and superbly acted, the BBC version was more packed with dialog that imparted information which I found fascinating. It gave me a detailed glimpse of the intellectual, theological and moral considerations that motivated C. S. Lewis. It was therefore more interesting and stimulating than the Hollywood version, but not nearly as visually stunning or viscerally affecting. Still, while I did not leave a heaping mound of sodden Kleenex in the theater, I did use one, and at frequent intervals. I enjoyed this film every bit as much as the Hollywood version, and was grateful for the increased understanding I gained.

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Release Date:

15 June 1989 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

C.S. Lewis Through the Shadowlands See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(video) | (original television)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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