HBO/1993/133m/WS 2.35

    "The pain then is part of the happiness now." With words of such prescience and profound emotion Joy Gresham, in a mature, totally assured performance by Debra Winger, expresses the reality of their situation to C.S. Lewis, in another incredible performance by Anthony Hopkins.
     Shadowlands is a very unusual love story that evolves in such a natural, uncluttered way. Extracted from the real life romance of the world renowned British author of children's books and the aggressive American poet whose admiration for him initiates a relationship, the screenplay by William Nicholson(based on his stage play)opens up their special world to us. These are not normally the kinds of people we expect screen fireworks from, but the real explosiveness comes from the honesty that has been portrayed on the screen. The details of Lewis's everyday existence portray a convincing picture of a confirmed bachelor. The setting in and around Oxford University in England creates a closed world through the which the camera cracks a pathway .    


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Civilized British hospitality.©HBO

     This is not one of those love at first sight romances awash in smarmy clichés. It is a solid adult story of great beauty. Director Richard Attenborough, known more for his big productions, does remarkably well with this intimate tale of love and life. The camera strokes the interior landscapes in sensual movements and the few view of the green English countryside are breathtaking. The small sounds echoing through the corridors of learning add an authentic layer of ambiance in capturing the world of Oxford Dons at dry and witty scholar's interplay.
     As carefully as the production has been nurtured through exquisite lighting, impeccable set design and intelligent script, it is still the acting that renders an amazingly honest portrait of a developing love. Hopkins invests his soul into the skin of the celluloid creation of C.S. Lewis. He is the Oxford professor, utterly self-satisfied with a safe and comfortable existence only to be slowly drawn into an irresistibly incipient love affair. From the initial screen moment of Winger announcing "Anyone here called Lewis," at their hotel tea meeting, the actress is perfect as Gresham. She and Hopkins are a marvelous combination, British reserve and American energy. These are two people falling in love, not two actors doing their job.
     The supporting cast is equally fine. Edward Hardwicke as brother Warnie Lewis is dignified and understanding and young Joseph Mazzello(Jurassic Park, Simon Birch )is heartwarming as Douglas Gresham.
     At the final fade out, the camera surveys a bucolic country setting as Hopkins intones on the soundtrack the logical variation of the memorable earlier phrase "The pain now is part of the happiness then," Shadowlands guarantees there won't be a dry eye in the house.
     The contrast range on this DVD seems rather inhibited. Many scenes lack depth and the difficult set elements add tot he bland delivery of Shadowlands images. There are a number of soft scenes. Perhaps some of them are intentionally rolled off to prevent significant aliasing or twitter, which raises it's ugly face all too often in this transfer. Attenborough utilizes the vertical pan rather liberally and the NTSC system has plenty of trouble with straight lines under those circumstances. A very nice making of documentary is included in this package. There is also a theatrical trailer and clips from interviews with the principals about their roles. Too bad the transfer doesn't measure up to the wonderful and extras on this DVD.

































































































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