Women in Love The battle of the sexes and relationships among the elite of Britain’s industrial Midlands in the 1920s. Gerald Crich and Rupert Berkin are best friends who fall in love with a pair of sisters Gudrun, a sculptress and Ursula Brangwen, a schoolteacher. Rupert marries Ursula, Gerald begins a love affair with Gudrun, and the foursome embarks upon a Swiss honeymoon. But the relationships take markedly different directions, as Russell explores the nature of commitment and love. Rupert and Ursula learn to give themselves to each other. The more withdrawn Gerald cannot, finally, connect with the demanding and challenging Gudrun.
Women in Love This film seems to get better the more I go back to it. Close to the source novel for the most part (the one big divergence being in the Water Party section but in the sense of the film the change is acceptable and gives a disturbing gloss to the story) and with sequence after sequence of powerful images, it has been much misunderstood and often dismissed but I would hope in time it is given the credit it deserves.
Sometimes lush, sometimes stark, always visually striking.
Ken Russell’s film (based on the novel of the same name by D.H. Lawrence) is an interesting piece in that he is able to use his camera to help the audience see one situation from two extremely diverse points-of-view, from that of the loving schoolmarm Ursula (Jennie Linden in a brilliant performance), to the manipulative Gudrun (Glenda Jackson.)
Russell has quite a knack of using his camera to create the emotions he wishes to extract from his audience. Russell’s technique of turning his camera sideways as Ursula and Rupert (Alan Bates) run nude through the fields has been dismissed by some, but it is quite effective in creating the unreal state in which their romance seems to find them, one quite different from the hardness and madness that surrounds them. This too is achieved to stunning effect as the two lovers are seen twisted together in the mud in the same position that two deceased lovers had been found only hours before. The colors surrounding these two are always bright and warm, in stark contrast to the way the other pair of lovers, Gudrun and Gerald (Oliver Reed) are photographed.
Gudrun and Gerald’s initial sexual encounter is harshly lit and edited, emphasizing the brutality of their situation. Their love is shown to be more of an addiction, rather than true love.
It would take more than 1,000 words to paint an accurate work picture of the films’ creative genius and incredible cinematography. One scene in particular, a nude wrestling match between Rupert and Gerald quite defies description, and I urge you to see the film and experience it’s mastery yourself.