Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Women In Love

Women In Love (1969)
Movie rating: 10/10
DVD rating: 7/10
Release Date: March 4, 2003
Running Time: 2 hours 11 minutes
Rating: R
Distributor: MGM
List Price: $19.98
Disc Details
Special Features: Widescreen anamorphic format
Chapter selection
Commentary by director Ken Russell
Commentary by writer-producer Larry Kramer
Behind the scenes photo gallery
Theatrical trailer
Sneak peeks
Video Format: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.66:1)
Languages: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French.
Captions: Yes
Casing: 1-Disc Keep Case

Once upon a time, gonzo director Ken Russell actually received universally rave reviews for one of his films. Russell's 1969 adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's novel "Women in Love" is considered by many to be Russell's best work. As much as I love this film, I prefer Russell's more outlandish fare such as "The Devils," "Savage Messiah," "Lisztomania" and even the flawed "Altered States" for pure visceral cinematic joy. "Women in Love" stands alone in Russell's career as a straightforward movie, devoid of photographic trickery, hallucinatory visuals and religious symbolism. Even still, "Women in Love" is stylistic, well-written, deliberately paced and flawlessly acted.

Producer Larry Kramer wrote the faithful script from Lawrence's 1920s novel. The story follows the love lives of two sisters Gudrun and Ursula Brangwen (Glenda Jackson and Jeannie Linden). The sisters fall in love with two best friends. Rupert Birkin (Alan Bates) is a school inspector. Rupert's best friend is Gerald Crich (Oliver Reed), a wealthy mine owner. The two couples experience completely different relationships. Rupert and Ursual achieve a romantic synergy which allows them to give and take from each other freely. Gerald and Gudrun endure a much bumpier ride.

"Women in Love" is set in the post WWI era. The Victorian attitude towards sex was rent asunder by the horror and carnage of the Great War. The 1920s rivaled the 1960s for sexual openness. "Women in Love" is a frank and sensuous film. The smart dialogue is not for children or adults who cannot understand words with more than one syllable.

"Women in Love" is a perfectly cast film. Glenda Jackson won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance, and deservedly so. Oliver Reed has never been better as the flawed and tormented Gerald. "Women in Love" is one of the best films of the 1960s. In addition to Jackson's Oscar, the film was nominated for Best Director, Cinematography and Screenplay. Do not miss this DVD.

The Disc
Great movie and picture. Good sound and extras.

Picture Quality: 10/10
Billy Williams's lush photography was nominated for an Oscar. The colors are rich and well saturated. There is no bleeding of colors. Excellent delineation. The brilliance of the transfer is best exemplified by the film's famous, mano-a-mano, nude wrestling match between Alan Bates and Oliver Reed in front of a blazing fireplace.

Sound Quality: 8/10
The sound isn't bad. The DVD includes the original Mono soundtrack. While there is no loss of dialogue, there are some flat, high tones from time to time. The soundtrack is dialogue intensive, so there is nothing to give your home theater system a work out. The music suffers most from the Mono treatment.

Menu: 6/10
Very bland menu design. Easy to navigate, just not much to look at.

Extra Features: 7/10
I was a bit disappointed in Ken Russell's commentary track. I've been a fan for years. Mr. Russell is very reserved throughout. He does give some insight into several difficult scenes, and some interesting star anecdotes. However, the commentary track spent too much time pointing out the cameos by the children of many crewmembers. That type of commentary track may be interesting for those involved in the film, but film students want to know more about the filmmaking process.

Fortunately for those who prefer more meat to their commentary tracks, MGM has included a second track with writer/producer Larry Kramer. Kramer's track is much better from a filmmaking point of view. Also, Kramer wore two hats, so he deals with both the adaptation of the novel, but the entire production process.

The DVD also includes the original theatrical trailer, an extensive, categorized photo gallery and Sneak Peeks at many other MGM DVDD releases.

The Final Word:
"Women in Love" is a great movie by one of the masters of 1960s and 70s filmmaking. Beautiful photography, acting and writing. A must have.

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