SHADOWLANDS is story of the famous English writer C. S. Lewis
(Anthony Hopkins) and of the one true love in his life, Joy Gresham
(Debra Winger). Joy is a life long fan of Lewis's and ventures to
Oxford where he teaches so that she can see the great man in the flesh.
His Oxford colleagues, on the other hand, see him as just another
professor and don't view him in awe as Gresham does.
Lewis and Gresham at first trade barbs at each other when they
meet, but eventually they fall into a deep, respectful and
contemplative love for each other. They become inseparable which is
surprising since they are both independent sorts who appear to need no
other human being. Eventually, Gresham becomes seriously ill and the
movie becomes a TERMS OF ENDEARMENT II.
There are so many things special about this movie it is hard to
know where to begin so let me take a little bit different approach and
list them in order with the best first:
Many lines poignant, funny, or both. Wish I could have written
all them down. In one example, Winger describes Hopkins and her as
"lapsed atheists". It has an excellent ending. The script by William
Nicholson deserves to win an Oscar. I believe this was taken from a
play. If so, you should get the play and read it. Use your yellow
marker to highlight the memorable lines. Make sure your marker has
plenty of ink before you start. Finally, not only was the script
excellent, the story itself was a fascinating love story.
Richard Attenborough had a clear sense of what he wanted to do.
and did it. Very moving.
Hopkins was absolutely wonderful. Okay, the character had
similarities to the one in REMAINS OF THE DAY in how reserved he was,
but these were different roles. He deserves an Oscar nomination for
Winger played a harsh, honest, strong, complex and yet vulnerable
character. Her acting range is enormous. Excellent performance also
worthy of an Oscar nomination. Actually, the only fault I have with
the movie was that Winger had trouble staying with her accent. Oh
well, she tried.
There were many great minor roles: The brother played by Edward
Hardwicke of Dr. Watson TV fame was one of many. Joy's son Douglas
played by Joseph Mazzello was another.
The cinematography by Roger Pratt was beautiful and yet not
overdone. Made you want to go to Oxford without overpowering the story
and turning it into a travelogue.
SHADOWLANDS runs 2:11, and I think the editor (Lesley Walker) made
just the right choices. If it had been shorter, we might have missed
some aspect of two intriguing lives. It is rated PG only for the
seriousness of its themes. It would be a great show for anyone old
enough to contemplate serious illness. I strongly recommend this to
you and award it *** 1/2.
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes