768 The French Lieutenant's Woman

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768 The French Lieutenant's Woman

#1 Post by swo17 » Mon May 18, 2015 4:48 pm

The French Lieutenant's Woman

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An astounding array of talent came together for the big-screen adaptation of John Fowles's novel The French Lieutenant's Woman, a postmodern masterpiece that had been considered unfilmable. With an ingenious script by the Nobel Prize–winning playwright Harold Pinter, British New Wave trailblazer Karel Reisz transforms Fowles's tale of scandalous romance into an arresting, hugely entertaining movie about cinema. In Pinter's reimagining, Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep star in parallel narratives, as a Victorian-era gentleman and the social outcast he risks everything to love, and as the contemporary actors cast in those roles and immersed in their own forbidden affair. The French Lieutenant's Woman, shot by the consummate cinematographer Freddie Francis and scored by the venerated composer and conductor Carl Davis, is a beguiling, intellectually nimble feat of filmmaking, starring a pair of legendary actors in early leading roles.


• New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New introduction by film scholar Ian Christie
• New interviews with actors Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep, editor John Bloom, and composer Carl Davis
• Episode of The South Bank Show from 1981 featuring director Karel Reisz, novelist John Fowles, and screenwriter Harold Pinter
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar Lucy Bolton

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Re: 768 The French Lieutenant's Woman

#2 Post by domino harvey » Mon May 18, 2015 7:54 pm

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Re: 768 The French Lieutenant's Woman

#3 Post by bearcuborg » Mon May 18, 2015 8:10 pm

I didn't care for this when I rented it from Facets back in the early 90. If memory serves I found it pretty dull, and the cinematography had this annoying affectedness. But I did chuckle at the Simpsons reference now, in a way I hadn't before - perhaps because I wanted to forget this movie. The story worked better as a book I later found out. In any case, I hope to view the Carl Davis interview at some point.

The cover, from what I can see on my phone, looks quite clever. A rare score for the design team...

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Re: 768 The French Lieutenant's Woman

#4 Post by colinr0380 » Fri May 29, 2015 5:30 am

As per the episode on the location in this week's episode of The Film Programme, here's a webpage on The Cobb at Lyme Regis Harbour, used as a key location of the film.

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Re: 768 The French Lieutenant's Woman

#5 Post by Lost Highway » Fri May 29, 2015 5:40 am

Odd choice. Apart from La Streep the film was not well received in its day and I don't think it ever experienced any sort of critical re-evaluation.

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Re: 768 The French Lieutenant's Woman

#6 Post by GaryC » Fri May 29, 2015 6:10 am

Lost Highway wrote:Odd choice. Apart from La Streep the film was not well received in its day and I don't think it ever experienced any sort of critical re-evaluation.
I saw it on release and I remember it being well received, at least in the UK.

I haven't seen it in years but as I remember Harold Pinter deserves a lot of credit for finding a solution to adapting a novel (which I've read) which is basically unfilmable as it stands. Mind you, that device is a sticking-point for the film's detractors.

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Re: 768 The French Lieutenant's Woman

#7 Post by sir_luke » Tue Jul 21, 2015 10:49 pm

Beaver. I saw a clip of this at a Criterion talk recently and it was indeed very pretty.

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Re: 768 The French Lieutenant's Woman

#8 Post by Minkin » Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:04 pm


What is the general board consensus on this film? It seems that every film I see with Meryl Streep is less of a film than it is a Meryl Streep performance. That and they seem to devolve into Out of Africa (just give Streep a bad accent and the rest will work itself out). I know that's all super over-generalization, but I was wondering what made this film special out of her 80s work /apart from Streep?

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Re: 768 The French Lieutenant's Woman

#9 Post by warren oates » Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:30 pm

Honestly, I don't get it. I'd never seen the film and blind bought the Criterion Blu-ray, mostly based on positive things I've heard about unique parallel intertextual narratives and the quality of the filmmaking. The latter was certainly all fine and good -- the movie looks great, the score is interesting, the performances are strong, but the whole thing just feels so dead on arrival to me. Oftentimes a film with two intercut narratives has a problem (like with this year's documentary Cartel Land), where one of the stories is just way more interesting and you keep wanting to go back to it. Here they both bored me to tears so I just kept hoping one or both would get better or build to something, anything at all.

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Re: 768 The French Lieutenant's Woman

#10 Post by Roscoe » Sat Aug 22, 2015 8:26 am

FLW always struck me as a rather dull and lifeless film. The career-long push to establish Streep as Our Greatest Living Actor was in full swing when the film was first released, which I think got a lot of people more excited about this pallid little movie than I think would otherwise have been the case. There are some signs of life, to be sure, in Mr. Irons' performance, and the great Leo McKern always pleases.

As for the Streep, well, the film's foregrounding of the mechanics of film-making and performance does her no favors, at least in my eyes. She's never able to transcend the film's double-narrative device to deliver anything particularly interesting, much less inspiring of the kind of obsession that the character(s) is/are supposed to be inspiring.

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Re: 768 The French Lieutenant's Woman

#11 Post by guidedbyvoices » Sat Apr 30, 2016 10:39 am

I was surprised Netflix had the new bluray so I got it and watched last night. Yeah, it was ok. I love Thomas Hardy and that period o literature, so the two intertwining stories sounded like a fascinating way to make something fresh. So little time was spent on the modern actors making the film that the ending, I just didn't care. The Victorian story had an ok few twists in it but nothing exceptional. And the two stories taken together didn't knock me down with how they made you reconsider what I just watched. The extras made me feel like I was missing this great incredible film. It certainly looked good especially the English Dorset locations. But the film didn't grab me at all and won't be one I'm buying or looking to watch again.

It did make me want to watch Reversal of Fortune though, I haven't seen that since it came out and wondering how it's held up

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Re: 768 The French Lieutenant's Woman

#12 Post by knives » Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:01 pm

It sounds like this is a success in the book, but if the stuff with the actors is intended to breed commentary on the main film than we spend far too much time dealing with them as characters and not enough time with them talking about the movie. It is an elegant solution, but perhaps it would be even more successful had it done something like Jesus Christ Superstar where as the film is being played out we see it being filmed rather than having them be such separate worlds.

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