6.2/10
1,178
12 user 21 critic

The Rainbow (1989)

A young woman deals in her own personal way with the trials of adolescence and young adulthood in early 1900s England.

Director:

Ken Russell

Writers:

Ken Russell (screenplay), Vivian Russell (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sammi Davis ... Ursula Brangwen
Paul McGann ... Anton Skrebensky
Amanda Donohoe ... Winifred Inger
Christopher Gable Christopher Gable ... Will Brangwen
David Hemmings ... Uncle Henry
Glenda Jackson ... Anna Brangwen
Dudley Sutton ... MacAllister
Jim Carter ... Mr. Harby
Judith Paris ... Miss Harby
Kenneth Colley ... Mr. Brunt (as Ken Colley)
Glenda McKay Glenda McKay ... Gudrun Brangwen
Mark Owen Mark Owen ... Jim Richards
Ralph Nossek Ralph Nossek ... Vicar
Nicola Stephenson Nicola Stephenson ... Ethel
Molly Russell Molly Russell ... Molly Brangwen
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Storyline

Ken Russell's loose adaptation of the last part of D.H. Lawrence's "The Rainbow" sees impulsive young Ursula coming of age in pastoral England around the time of the Boer War. At school, she is introduced to lovemaking by a bisexual physical education instructress. While experiencing disillusionment in her first career attempt (teaching), she has an affair with a young Army officer, who wants to marry her. Unable to accept a future of domesticity, she breaks with him, and eventually leaves home in search of her destiny. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Action | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 May 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El arco iris See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$444,055

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$444,055
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Vestron Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to David Hemmings' autobiography, 'Blow Up and Other Exaggerations', he was first choice for the role of Uncle Henry but Ken Russell had to renege on the offer because the US film distributors did not want him. Bizarrely, Ken then cast Elton John in the role, before the singer got cold feet over wigs, costume and arduous acting lessons and asked to leave the project. The next choice was Alan Bates (who had played Birkin in the sequel, Women in Love (1969)) but he declined and the role went back to Hemmings. See more »

Connections

Followed by Lady Chatterley (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Playmates
(uncredited)
Written by Ezra Read
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"But I want some other kind of life..."
18 December 2013 | by miss_lady_ice-853-608700See all my reviews

Despite the film's many flaws- it is loosely based on only a section of DH Lawrence's Northern saga, the lead actress is fairly wooden and the style of the film screams eighties cheese- I think it's a great little film. It's one of those few films that not simply inspire you to follow your dreams but actually insists that you do so, whether those dreams come to fruition or not.

It's set in a mining town in the 1910's. Ursula Brangwen (Sammi Davis- no, not THAT one) is a rebellious teenager and persistent dreamer, constantly striving for 'the rainbow' that symbolises fulfilment. She pursues it in two different ways; one through trying to gain work as a schoolteacher, thereby becoming financially independent, and because this is DH Lawrence directed by Ken Russell, sexual fulfilment.

Though she shares a naughty kiss in the local church with family friend and dashing soldier Anton Skrebensky (Paul McGann), it is Ursula's female swimming instructor Winifred Inger (Amanda Donohoe) that gives her her first sexual experience. Ursula is devoted to her but Inger's experience outweighs Ursula's innocence. There is nudity here but no big love scene. It's actually fairly restrained for Russell, and for once it actually feels appropriate for the film.

Ursula moves back to sexy soldier Skrebensky (try saying that out loud) and experiences true Freudian bliss against a tree with a gushing waterfall behind it. Now that's more like Russell, isn't it? It's not pornographic but it's a bit raunchier than Colin Firth's wet shirt. Perhaps not the best viewing for teatime with the family. Still, Paul McGann is a suitable substitute for eye candy; it's very much a film for the women.

The love scenes are shot in an interesting way. Ursula never seems to fully connect as part of the couple- or if she does, the camera doesn't care. The focus is on Ursula's reactions so Russell uses techniques like jump cuts- although this makes one love scene unintentionally hilarious.

Acting-wise, I'm glad that they didn't cast a star. Yes, Davis was not going to be the next Elizabeth Taylor but her inexperience works perfectly for the film. Ursula has not fully worked out her character yet but only that she has a drive to do something different with her life and make more of herself. Because the film is very condensed, the actors have less to work with, which is why Donohoe's character comes off more as a type. Still, I think she conveys an interesting image of a very masculine woman. McGann is a brilliant actor and despite being the obvious eye candy (indeed,a shot of Skrebensky and Ursula by the waterfall graces the film's poster), he manages to show that Skrebensky is also a slave to convention. As Ursula tells him, "I'd rather be swept off my feet by a half-naked robber than a soldier defending my honour". Sassy! Yes, it's not perfect but I think that it's well worth a watch. This is period drama that has genuine relevance to modern life and modern concerns, and is a great coming-of-age story with a brave and life-inspiring message.


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