Sunday, 23 September 2007

Jean-louis Coulloc'h's hazel eyes and stubby penis enthrall, in his role as the gamekeeper Oliver Parkin, the brown-eyed Lady Chatterley (Marina Hands). And while the film is a whopping 168 minutes long -- that's just shy of three hours, folks -- it never lags. There's no fat in this baby, movie lovers!

The film is quintessentially French, though based on a draft of D. H. Lawrence's ground-breaking 1928 novel, and this is evident in its extreme purity of execution. Or maybe that's just the consumate skill of the director, Pascale Ferran.

Take the first scene, for example.

A woman who turns out to be Lady Chatterley, stands in front of a house and a car is running. Beside it stands a man (who turns out to be a doctor). She kisses him au revoir. The car exits, frame right. Shot of woman. Shot of vista, panning right: a river, lush meads, brittle copses of leafless trees. Autumn. New shot: the house, which is like a castle. It is grey, imposing, cold, inhuman. The woman enters the house.

This is just one scene to kick off a fabulous cavalcade of brilliant shooting and superb acting. As I said, at almost three hours there is ample scope for boredom. But IT DOES NOT HAPPEN. Not for an instant.

Consider the changes of costume. The first time Connie goes into the wood she's wearing a purple wollen coat belted tightly at the waist. Move forward: the coat is unbelted and the dark purple felt hat is given up in favour of a lightweight boater-like number. She's letting her hair down.

Consider also the language. Listen to the definition of suzerainty given by the wheelchair-bound Sir Clifford (Hyppolit Girardot): highly nominalised, abstract. The language of power. Compare it to the language in the closing scene, where the lovers plight their eternal troth: full of verbs, simple constructions, the type of language a child would use.

If this is an homage to a great 20th-century thinker by an admiring French constituency, then it is a wonderful gift to English free-thinking. The scene where the lovers run, uninhibited, through the grass and the woods, to finally collapse in a tangle of limbs and perfervid carresses, is acclaim of the highest order.

It reminded me of the Adamites, early protestants who, inspired by the Hussite movement in 15th-century Bohemia, ran naked in the woods and begot children in amazing numbers. (They were subsequently condemned by less radical elements of the heresy, and persecuted.)

Lawrence isn't my favourite author but, with this film, I see how his ideas can carry a profound message of tolerance and truth. Peace be upon him.

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