Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sons And Lovers
Sons And Lovers
Acorn Media, VHS Tape, 14 January, 2003
Director: Stephen Whittaker
Actors: Sarah Lancashire, Hugo Speer
Features: Box set, PAL
List Price: £19.99
Used Price: £2.54
Third Party Price: £14.94
Availability: Limited availability
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Customer Reviews

Sons and Lovers
This is an excellent adaptation of Lawrence's boigraphical work.
If you are not used to Lawrence you will find it hard viewing, full of the mudane bleakness that was victorian working class life. You should not allow this to discourage your viewing however for Lawrence's characters have complex and confusing relationships which hold your attention and potray a need for resolution, you will want to journey through with the characters. There is a central struggle between Getrude Morrell and her less intelligent, less refined Husband, who after intial romance proves an intense and bitter dissapointment.
This is follwed by the struggles Gertudes Son's have to negoiate a means of impressing and detaching from their devoted, if dysfunctional Mother. Lancashire plays the cooly detached Getrude superbly, she displays the supressed emotion well and yet gives a sense of the intense power she holds over her boys.
The character of Paul, the youngest Son is played with conviction and respect to Lawrence, who is Paul's template.
Though he plays the role well, Hugo Speer is horribly wasted as the gloomy one dimentional Mr Morrell. Be forgiving of Miriam, Paul's first love, she is damn irritating but she is suppossed to be. For it is she who has to work through Paul's inability to commit to her and is more damaged then he by his indecisiveness and devotion to Gertude.
This production more cleary communicates the struggle of the changing rules for Men and Women than any other I have seen, it demonstates the conflicts and questions raised by marraige and women's roles at this time (late 1880's to early 1900's). It is not a production for the fainthearted as the sexual content is quite explicit.
One issue it does raise is just exactly when Sarah Lancashire is going to move towards film work, for she is a fine actress and at her wide ranging best in the role of Gertude.
This procduction would surely have been endorsed by Lawrence himself as true to his message as displayed in his fine novel.
Hard work and certainly not "feel good" but well worth the journey and undoubtedly useful to students of Fruedian theory.

Poor adaptation of Lawrence novel.
This adaptation of DH Lawrence's 1913 novel Sons And Lovers is a very mediocre one- I'm not definitively sure why. Part of this may be the fact it is centred around Sarah Lancashire- an actor of limited talent (it was also part of her "Golden Handcuffs" deal with the TV channel who produced this). Or it could be the fact that like the majority of costume drama's based on the canon of classics, it ends up being a lazy adaptation aimed at the foreign market in terms of sales (the heritage work) or those who can't be bothered to read the book, but love drama rooted in a period.

Of course, you can't expect an exact translation of a novel (there is no definitive reading&this has been adapted before- most recently in 1981)- but the simplification that occurs here. It fails to say anything about the book or era it depicts- unlike a BBC TV adaptation of The Rainbow in the 80's, or Ken Russell's versions of Women in Love, The Rainbow (again)&Lady Chatterley's Lover. Lawrence's work is simplified here into a series of sex scenes between Paul&Clara, then Miriam.

I never thought I'd complain about too much sex on screen, after all most TV revolves around sex in forms of affairs in soaps/MOR TV drama- but rarely shows it. Here we get full-frontal nudity- which I think is fine, after all- most people are naked when they have sex. But it overplays the nudity&sex, becoming repetitious and placating the idea that it's OK in this instance- cos it's based on a classic (do we get similar nudity in "Golden Handcuff"-based TV drama? The answer is no). Nothing is really said with the frequent depiction of sex, this is not David Cronenberg's Crash- so it comes across as a titillating excuse to show pubic hair on screen. Ken Russell also used full-frontal nudity in Lady Chatterley's Lover- but he did say other things also- whereas this adaptation was erring towards a classy form of titillation- which has been prevalent since 1996's Moll Flanders.

This adaptation is watchable, particularly nice to see more roles for women on screen, pity they erred towards stereotypes- I do think that Esther Hall (as Clara)&Lyndsey Marshal (as Miriam) were notable in their performances- I would like to see these actors used in TV drama that has some guts&originality. This was just adaptation by numbers- more Nanchero-style period nonsense than a work approaching any complexity- which is to be found in Lawrence's classic novel. Which is not only far superior, but a lot cheaper than this...

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