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Firelight (1997)

In 1838, lovely governess Elisabeth agrees to bear a child of anonymous English landowner, and he will in return pay her father's debt. At birth she, as agreed, gives up the child. Seven ... See full summary »


William Nicholson
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Sophie Marceau ... Elisabeth Laurier
Stephen Dillane ... Charles Godwin
Dominique Belcourt ... Louisa Godwin
Kevin Anderson ... John Taylor
Lia Williams ... Constance
Joss Ackland ... Lord Clare
Sally Dexter Sally Dexter ... Molly Holland
Emma Amos ... Ellen
Maggie McCarthy ... Mrs. Jago
Wolf Kahler ... Sussman
Annabel Giles ... Amy Godwin
John Flanagan John Flanagan ... Robert Ames
Valerie Minifie Valerie Minifie ... Hannah
Diana Payan Diana Payan ... Mrs. Maidment
John Hodgkinson John Hodgkinson ... Carlo


In 1838, lovely governess Elisabeth agrees to bear a child of anonymous English landowner, and he will in return pay her father's debt. At birth she, as agreed, gives up the child. Seven years later she is hired as governess to a girl on a remote Sussex estate. The father of the girl, Charles Godwin, turns out to be that anonymous landowner. So Elisabeth has to be her own daughter's governess, and she can't reveal the secret of her tie with little Louisa. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Passion has no limits


Romance | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality and brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Though he had been in the film industry as a scriptwriter for many years, this was William Nicholson's first directed film. See more »


After seven years, despite evolving fashions, neither hero nor heroine have made any change in hairdo or style of clothes. Nor do they look a day older. See more »


Elisabeth: Good Morning, Louisa. Do you know your ABC?
Louisa: [Mockingly] Do you know your ABC?
Elisabeth: [Making a Flashcard for the letter "L"] This is "L" for Louisa.
Louisa: [Mockingly] This is "L" for Louisa.
[Heads for the door]
Elisabeth: Don't go. We have work to do.
Louisa: [Mockingly] Don't go. We have work to do.
Louisa: [Stops at the door] You're poor I suppose.
Elisabeth: Yes.
Louisa: I don't have to do what you say.
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User Reviews

Truly exceptional movie
7 January 2001 | by branarSee all my reviews

This film really made me search the net high and low to read more about it, and to see whether other people think the same. Here, I found out that many people think the same.

Searching the web, as I said, I also ran across the director's statement that I cite here:

Inspired by Nicholson's fascination with 1940s movie love stories, Firelight is a film that awakens the romantic spirit in each of us. For his film directorial debut, Nicholson wanted to create a boundless romantic story about lovers forced apart by outside forces. To do so, he had to set his story in another place and time. "To achieve that old-fashioned level of romance," the writer/director asserts, "I had to go back to a place and time when there were forces stronger than individual desires. Contemporary love stories are relationship stories because the obstacles that prevent people from loving each other are essentially self-induced. These kind of stories can be charming, but you can't build up an enormous head of steam with them. I wanted to create a story about how love can redeem people, about how it can totally change their lives. I wanted to create that tragic feeling you have when two people are perfect for each other, love each other, but yet cannot have one another." Nicholson set out to write a film in which the focus was on people and their emotions. As he worked on the screenplay, Nicholson developed a very clear and simple visual style for the film. "I wanted people's feelings to be the central issue of the film and I wanted nothing to distract from that. The idea of firelight became central to what the film is about. The story is about light, about winter, about coldness and empty rooms where the eye goes toward the one source of heat, the fire.

To conceive a good film is one thing, but to make it, is altogether different, sometimes very hard. Nicholson succeeded fantastically but praises must be given to all the cast as well, Sophie first.

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English | French

Release Date:

4 September 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Firelight See more »

Filming Locations:

Calvados, France See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$135,401, 7 September 1998

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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