Directed by Pascale Ferran. Based on the novel by D.H. Lawrence. Released by Kino International.
Lady Chatterley is a French film set in rural England in the 1920’s. Constance is the wife of a paralyzed war veteran and wealthy mine owner. She begins to take walks down to the gamekeeper’s hut to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Her visits to the hut became a daily habit and she eventually has an affair with Oliver the gamekeeper. Lady Chatterley was nominated for 11 César awards and won 5, including Best French Film and Best Actress.
Since it’s been a little while since I watched Lady Chatterley, I thought I’d go to the official website to refresh my memory. One of the interesting things I read on the site was that the movie is based on the second of three versions of the erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence. The author rewrote the manuscript from beginning to end instead of modifying any of the previous versions. The second version, known in English as John Thomas and Lady Jane, takes place mostly outdoors. The infamous third version, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, takes place indoors and contains much more dialogue. Knowing that, I’m interested in reading the two versions to compare. However, I do think basing the movie off the second version was a better choice. Nature becomes a third character in this film and adds many layers that might not have been there with an adaptation from the more well-known third version.
There are some incredibly beautiful scenes in this film. One particular scene I thought was done really well was when Oliver is decorating Constance in the nude with wildflowers. The film also had an amazing feeling to it. I’m not talking about the intimate scenes specifically. I’m talking more about the scenes of discovery. When Constance discovers Oliver with his shirt off near the beginning of the film, the camera shows her hand and I felt the tingling that might have been in her hands. When Oliver slides his arm across Constance’s back and you know it’s the beginning of the affair, I felt butterflies in my stomach like she might have felt. The characters developed from empty to whole, accompanied by the background of changing seasons. There is so much more to be discovered in this seemingly simple film that I might just have to watch it again.