Women in Love Screen 5 articles

Women in Love


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    Artforum: Manny Farber
    June 1970 | Farber on Film (pp. 690-691)

    The script (Larry Kramer) is carefully collaged D. H. Lawrence, the direction (Ken Russell) is an extragant rouge job, each scene an operetta with its own private mahogany-to-hayseed yellow color, and the movie is further pushed out of whack by four actors who loom and bulk like Maillol sculptures, but have the quirky idiosyncratic faces of a Lautree. All these people pushing the film in personal ways are really dominated by Lawrence and his apocalyptic vision.

  • Every emotion is amplified to a frenzied extreme. People don't simply kiss in this film; they attack each other. They furiously rend clothes and claw at each other's flesh, all while Russell's camera barrels in close, practically groping the actors' bodies. Where Lawrence attempted to probe the complexities of modern sexual psychology, Russell is more interested in using the novel's sexually charged characters as figures to be placed into a series of fevered tableaux.

  • In retrospect, it seems surprisingly sane and classy for him, though his themes of excess and abandon bubble beneath the surface. Though the plotting is largely shucked in favor of image and atmosphere, it remains Russell's best-told film apart from Savage Messiah. The delirious romanticism is not nullified, in Russell's usual way, by a sour awareness of its absurdity, which may account for the film's persistent popularity.

  • Russell’s filmmaking, with the incomparable aid of the great cinematographer Billy Williams, attacks with physical force. They often employ hand-held camerawork, not affected like so much modern wobble-cam stuff, but charged with sweeping energy, to give the film a hungry, compulsive feel.

  • In an appreciation of the novel “Women in Love,” the critic Camille Paglia recalls in her collection of essays “Vamps & Tramps” that a poster portrait of Lawrence was a dorm-room pinup — perhaps only among English majors — in the late ’60s. This cultlike objectification is akin to Russell and Kramer’s film: a robust, entertaining, tastefully vulgar celebration of Lawrence’s philosophy.

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