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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Shadowlands

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Debra Winger
Director: Richard Attenborough
Rated: PG
RunTime: 133 Minutes
Release Date: January 1994
Genres: Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Edward Hardwicke, John Wood, Michael Denison, Joseph Mazzello, Robert Flemyng, Peter Howell, Peter Firth

Review by Pedro Sena
3½ stars out of 4

It's nice to see a literary tradition taken over by a film community that respects it. The American literary tradition is usually based on how many millions it sold, not anything in the past.

As is the case of the Ismael/Merchant group, this is another excellent example of what loving an art, and an expression can do for any film. C. S. Lewis has provided some beautiful stories that have been made into film. None of them stand out so beautifully as this one, that pretty much explains how a writer, and thinker, works. The words have meanings. The dialogue speaks. And the film floors you.

C. S. Lewis was a writer and lecturer at Oxford in England. And he was able to maintain the usual Oxford tradition for many years, until one day he reads a letter about an American woman that had a dream about him. And she comes to England to visit him, and see what the old world has to offer. Their relationship is nothing but a friendship, until she leaves back to America. A respectful relationship that displays a few things that affect Jack's methods of teaching. The student that gets criticized in one of his classes turns out to be a real writer in the midst of them. He knows why he reads. The other students do not. All of a sudden, Jack's life is the same way. And the American woman has returned and drops in one of his many lectures and sermons. They meet again. She is in a dilemma. And to help her, they marry on paper, just so she will not be deported with her child. And one day, it is learned that she has cancer on her right leg. Even though the new treatments of the day were rough, they managed to keep her alive. Jack comes to understand something about love, and people, that before only felt like words. They remarry, this time meaningfully.

And as she gets worst, it is Jack that is catching the worst of it, and has a hard time talking to her son.

The film ends amidst a sheer attack of beauty, the kind that Jack loved to discuss with his students, and wrote about many times.

There are many love stories in film. And there are many of them in novel form that have yet to be filmed. But this one, is one that had film all over written in it, and stands out as a very special moment, for a writer that had a magnanimous heart, even if he is not remembered as such. And it took the wildness of an American woman to bring out the humanity in him. The appreciation of it all. The shine that much of his work has.

The performances by everyone in this work are excellent. And the beauty with which they are delivered is something to behold, even if one thinks the film is very talky, which I do. For once, even the talk grabs you full tilt. And you feel the power of words, that became one of Lewis' best known trademarks. The poetic description of a moment. His wife was gone, but the feelings he learned were not.

A must see film, with a outstanding styles by both Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. If you miss this one, you just do not know how to appreciate anyone who really has some loving to share. Few of us, the lucky few. C. S. Lewis, is one of them. The performances here, are the other part of the equation.

Copyright 1994 Pedro Sena

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