Mol (mollyringle) wrote,

Lady Chatterley and Sean Bean

Back in December I read, or technically re-read, Lady Chatterley's Lover. Isn't it nice how this day and age we can say that with no fear of being arrested? In any case, here's my Goodreads review, for starters:

Technically a re-read, but I didn't remember much of it from the first time around. This time around I found it very good. Rather than raunchiness, though, sadness, or at least poignancy, breathes through it somehow. I don't know if this is because I was aware (from reading the introduction) that Lawrence was dying of tuberculosis when he wrote it, and had to endure a lot of abuse about the book right up until his death. That certainly could be part of it. It's probably equally likely that it's the setting that makes it sad: post-WWI England was a shattered place, mood-wise. And if that society was messed up about sexual mores too, well, no surprise. Given that supremely messed-up background, the affair-turned-love between Connie and Mellors *is* surprising in its frankness and wildness. But shocking? Scandalous? Hardly, from today's point of view. No one who's read a modern steamy romance novel could think so--and in fact, those of us who write them should consider Lawrence one of our patron saints for paving the way and enduring the firestorm from the prudes.

If the book is occasionally wrongheaded (by modern standards) about some sexual issues--like the brief but derogatory mentions of homosexuality, or the apparent lack of knowledge about the existence of foreplay--well, that's no surprise, given the wrongheaded society it was coming from, which Lawrence illustrates and denigrates so well.

It has a strange repetitive narrative style sometimes, and engages in head-hopping (in terms of POV), and overdoses of dialect within the dialogue, but all of that bothered me much less than it would in most books. As love stories go, or simply as novels go, it worked for me, and I salute its melancholy charm as much as its racier qualities that made it famous.

Then, curious to see some movie version of it and how the film medium would handle things, I lately found a copy of the Sean Bean BBC version at the library.

Incidentally, it led to this conversation between myself and husband:
Me: So, I'm watching the Sean Bean version of 'Lady Chatterley.'
Steve: *looks a bit confused*
Me: You know, where Sean Bean is Lady Chatterley's lover.
Steve: Oh. Sean Bean. For some reason I keep mixing up him and Mr. Bean.
Me: Yeah, that wouldn't work as well.
Steve: Yeah.

But as for the Sean Bean version (which is merely called Lady Chatterley)...

Awkward expositional dialogue and occasional weird camera zooms/movements.
Cheesy dream sequence. (Oh no, movie, you didn't! Gah. You did.)
Overdramatic background music.
Slightly too much lipstick and eyeliner on m'lady sometimes.
Numerous close-ups of Connie's wedding ring during torrid love scenes with Mellors. Yes, thank you, we did remember she's married.

Casting. Joely Richardson makes a sweet, natural, sultry Connie. James Wilby is a perfectly deplorable Sir Clifford (poor James; he's good at those roles, but to some of us he'll always be our sweet Maurice too). And Sean Bean is a pretty hot Mellors. Who knew Boromir had it in him? Bean masters that characteristic Mellors mix of prickly-snarky-cocky and moody-vulnerable-tender. Mellors is written as having a mustache, by the way, and we know Bean can look fine with facial hair; but I approve of the clean shave they gave him for this film. A bit more handsome and less sinister.

Pretty forests and flowers. The lush beauty of nature is an important theme in the book, so it's good they got that right for the film.

They seem to have dropped what's-his-name the depressed Irish writer from her earlier affairs. (Though maybe that was him kissing her hand at a party.) Good. He was a drag and didn't add much to the story.

More of a clear happy ending than the book gave us, and I suppose that's a pro; though for unfaithfulness to the book's melancholy nature, it could be considered a con.
Tags: books, celebrity, meme, movies

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