A deeply sensitive romantic drama based on a play, which was based on a book and true story by Lewis, Shadowlands has some extraordinary performances and lovely direction by Richard Attenborough
A scholar and author opens his heart for the first time for a relationship with someone else, and it changes his life.
Renowned British author and scholar C.S. Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) has already written his best known work The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by the time he meets a devoted American fan, Joy Gresham (Debra Winger) and her young son Douglas (Joseph Mazello) who adores the Narnia books. Lewis has a comfortable “safe” life without any attachments other than his brother and his day job as a professor at Oxford, and so when he allows himself to entertain Joy and Douglas for extended periods of time – and even at Christmas time at his home – he and Joy become intimate friends, despite never crossing over into a physical love. When she eventually divorces her husband and moves to England, Lewis – and all his associates and colleagues – are stunned when he finds it difficult to carry on with his life without Joy. He loves her, but won’t admit it in so many words, and being literally the only person on earth who has somehow brought him to such a vulnerable state, Joy manages to overcome all his frustrating pretenses and break down his defenses. But fate has something even more unexpected in store for them: Joy has advanced cancer, and to give himself totally and completely over to Joy, Lewis marries her so that she and Douglas will have security, but then fate takes another unexpected twist, one which will teach Lewis how unfathomable love and devotion can be if only he’s willing to submit to them.
A deeply sensitive romantic drama based on a play, which was based on a book and true story by Lewis, Shadowlands has some extraordinary performances and lovely direction by Richard Attenborough, who’d just worked with young Mazello on Jurassic Park. The film is a remarkable piece of work and somehow manages to tell a powerful story with an inspiring message. It’s not particularly a “message” movie, but its heart is strikingly laid bare and has the power to move you if you allow it to, just like its central themes move its characters to tears when they realize how important it is to allow oneself to love.
Mill Creek’s new Blu-ray edition of Shadowlands is very welcome, and I’m very glad to own it and retire my DVD. The high definition transfer is solid and crisp, and the disc comes with a new interview with the composer of the film George Fenton. High marks all around.