French Lieutenant's Woman

The French Lieutenant's Woman

5.0 3
Director: Karel Reisz, Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Hilton McRae

Cast: Karel Reisz, Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Hilton McRae

     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

John Fowles' original novel The French Lieutenant's Woman was distinguished by a literary technique that involved telling a story of Victorian sexual and social oppression within the bounds of a 1970s viewpoint. How does one convey this time-frame dichotomy on film? The decision made by director Karel Reisz and Harold Pinter was to frame Fowles' basic plot

Overview

John Fowles' original novel The French Lieutenant's Woman was distinguished by a literary technique that involved telling a story of Victorian sexual and social oppression within the bounds of a 1970s viewpoint. How does one convey this time-frame dichotomy on film? The decision made by director Karel Reisz and Harold Pinter was to frame Fowles' basic plot within a "modern" context of their own making. While we watch as Sarah (Meryl Streep), a 19th-century Englishwoman ruined by an affair with a French lieutenant, enters into another disastrous relationship with principled young Charles (Jeremy Irons), we are constantly made aware that what we're seeing is only a film. This is done by surrounding the story with a modern narrative, focusing on a movie production company which is on location--filming The French Lieutenant's Woman. Meryl Streep doubles in the role of Sara and the American actress who plays her, while Jeremy Irons essays the dual role of Charles and the handsome Briton playing Charles. Likewise, everyone else in the cast is seen as "themselves" and as their French Lieutenant's Woman characters. Not surprisingly, the "real" Streep and Irons enter into an affair which closely parallels their characters' relationship. The commercial TV version of French Lieutenant's Woman eliminates 30 minutes' worth of "extraneous" scenes.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
One of England's most highly regarded playwrights, Harold Pinter was deservedly nominated for an Academy Award for his sly, self-reflexive adaptation of The French Lieutenant's Woman. The conundrum for Pinter and director Karel Reisz was how to translate John Fowles' enigmatic novel to the screen without losing the author's blend of the Victorian world with a modern sensibility. They settled upon a movie-within-a-movie structure. The narrative device of having both a "fictionalized" and a "real" component complementing each other is nothing new to dramatists, and it is a favorite trick of the movies as well: to greater or lesser degrees, such films as Children of Paradise, 8 1/2, Le Mepris, and The Last Metro all use such a "meta-fictional" technique. As the two actors playing the two characters, Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons manage to keep their respective roles distinctive, yet parallel. Streep was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, her first of six in the 1980s. This was Irons' first major motion picture after making a splash in the TV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/11/2015
UPC:
0715515154017
Original Release:
1981
Rating:
R
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
2:03:00
Sales rank:
10,881

Special Features

New interviews with actors Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep, director John Bloom, and composer Carl Davis New interview with film scholar Ian Christie Episode of The South Bank Show from 1981 featuring director Karel Reisz, novelist John Fowles, and screenwriter Harold Pinter Trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Meryl Streep Sarah Woodruff/Anna
Jeremy Irons Charles Smithson/Mike
Hilton McRae Sam
Emily Morgan Mary
Charlotte Mitchell Mrs. Tranter
Lynsey Baxter Ernestina
Jean Faulds Cook
Peter Vaughan Mr. Freeman
Colin Jeavons Vicar
Liz Smith Mrs. Fairley
Patience Collier Mrs. Poulteney
John Barrett Dairyman
Leo McKern Dr. Grogan
Arabella Weir Girl on Undercliff
Ben Forster Boy on Undercliff
Catherine Willmer Dr. Grogan's housekeeper
Anthony Langdon Asylum Keeper
Edward Duke Nathaniel
Richard Griffiths Sir Tom
Graham Fletcher-Cook Delivery Boy
Michael Elwyn Montague
Toni Palmer Mrs. Endicott
Cecily Hobbs Betty Anne
Doreen Mantle Lady on train
David Warner Murphy
Peter Fraser Actor
Beverly Garland Actor
Vicky Ireland Actor
Mary McLeod Actor
Harriet Walter Actor
Clare Travers-Deacon Actor
Joanna Joseph Lizzie
Richard Hope 3rd Assistant
Alun Armstrong Grimes
Gerard Falconetti Davide
Penelope Wilton Sonia

Technical Credits
Karel Reisz Director
John Bloom Editor
Allan Bryce Special Effects
Chris Burt Production Manager
Allan Cameron Art Director
Leon Clore Producer
Carl Davis Score Composer
Norman Dorme Art Director
Freddie Francis Cinematographer
Assheton Gorton Production Designer
Geoffrey Helman Associate Producer
Ann Mollo Set Decoration/Design
Harold Pinter Screenwriter
Terry Pritchard Art Director
Tom Rand Costumes/Costume Designer
Don Sharpe Sound Editor

Videos

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Criterion Collection: French Lieutenant's Woman 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent, excellent, excellent.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Way up on my all-time greats. Period and modern piece, superb acting, never boring.......... etc, etc
Guest More than 1 year ago
What an exceptionally beautiful, haunting film.