Tuesday, 8 September 2015
Lady Chatterley's Losers
I was wondering how D.H.Lawrence's classic would fare at the hands of the BBC on Sunday. Part of a season of films that will include Cider With Rosie and, heart in mouth, The Go-Between. And all I could think was: Everyone's a loser. We the audience in particular, because an hour and a half is simply just not long enough for this bucolic tale of pheasant rearing near coal mines. Ken Russell did a very creditable job back in 1993, but then he had nearly three and a half hours. This attempt should really have been called something different, like Coal 'n' Camisoles, based on an idea by D.H.Lawrence. Because the second loser was the author himself. The whole point of his novel is total honesty in sexual matters, but our two lovers lost out because from where I was they didn't even get a decent shag. And didn't say any earthy Nottinghamshire endearments to help it along either, which was the whole point of 12 days in the Old Bailey for Penguin Books in 1960.
I think that when you have limited time to tell a story as good as this you should try and stick to most of the 'facts' of the book you're adapting. As far as I remember, gamekeeper Mellors wasn't in the army under Clifford Chatterley, and having glossed over this after it was established at the outset it didn't rear its head again until the end. And then used just to make a cheap political point when Mellors came with Constance to the mine in order for her to ask for a divorce. (Oddly in a very expensive car driven by the pheasant rearer.)
However, there were at least two good things: Stirling performances from both James Norton as Clifford Chatterley and his eccentric invalid carriage made from an upturned bath. But what will happen in a low budget The Go-Between? Leo Colston just having to run back and forth across the lawn to a greenhouse? Cider With Rosie in a Gloucestershire pub yard with a bottle of Woodpecker? Let's see, I don't want to be hasty.