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.

8 comments:

Sue said...

Well, at least they aren't updating them for the 21st century with Marian and Ted texting (or even WhatsApping...) There was a horrible cartoon series of The Famous Five (or their sons & daughters) a couple of years back complete with laptops and skateboards. Yuk.

The Vintage Knitter said...

It was abysmal wasn't it? Talk about disembowelling a classic like that and twisting the storyline to suit the BBC's needs. I remember watching Ken Russell's version and really rating it at the time; Sean Bean was a credible Mellors too.

It makes me cringe to think what will happen with 'Cider With Rosie', especially as it was filmed in Miserden instead of Slad. I wonder if Laurie Lee's old seat in The Woolpack will be reverberating with supernatural indignation!

Philip Wilkinson said...

I wasn't around to see this, and it doesn't look as if I'll be bothering to seek out a repeat. I presume they emasculated (should that be fe efemulated ?) DHL's four-letter language?

Peter Ashley said...

Sue: What an alarming thought. Mind you, if Ted & Marian are as remote as their 1900 counterparts they'll never get a signal.

VK: I think Claude Whatham's 1971 Cider With Rosie was shot in Slad, and around the original cottage.

Philip: No 'language', only from me.

E Berris said...

After seeing Constance's hats, it could have been titled "Feathers in the Forest" - but I only watched about half, it was so alienating.

Peter Ashley said...

Hello E Berris. I too was very worried about such finery being displayed on the wood. Smacked of an excellent costume designer showing what she could do for her evidently limited budget.

Julie Waterman said...

I am not sure at all why you would be rude about Sir Cifford's Invalid Carriage. I am disabled and use a modern disability scooter, and was fascinated by the carriage as I had no idea they had any motorized vehicles in those days, and actually it was really quite sophisticated and obviously NOT some home made creation from a bath!!! I know this is fiction but the portrayal of disabled people in history matter!!!!

Peter Ashley said...

Hello Julie and welcome to Unmitigated England! I wasn't being rude about Sir Clifford's carriage. It was a joke. Not a particularly good one, but a joke nonetheless. Lawrence's novel clearly states that this is a motorized carriage, and this version of his book was originally published in 1928. Having researched it (a bit) I think that the bodywork in this case could be a custom-made addition.