Lady Chatterley (1992) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Ken Russell's take on the famous D.H. Lawrence novel was not actually a movie per se, but a four-part miniseries on British TV. Tuna and Scoopy had essentially the same reaction - tedious show, but the Joely Richardson nudity was worth waiting for.

Scoop's comments in white:

D.H. Lawrence makes for pretty tedious reading today. He was not an especially good writer, but he attracted a world-wide audience in his own time because of his obscenity trials. He achieved the backing of the entire literary world because he fought against censorship, and that notoriety gave him the immortality that his writing never really merited. To defend him, it was necessary to prove that Lawrence was no simple pornographer, but a writer of great significance and redeeming social importance. People of great talent and reputation therefore swore that he was one of the giants among them, thus paving the way for the controversial elements of his work to be accepted as the license duly accorded to literary geniuses, ala James Joyce.


Joely Richardson has several scenes of full-frontal nudity.

Sean Bean does a partially obscured frontal scene, and a clear butt scene.

Lawrence's work no longer needs to be defended against obscenity charges, and it is no longer especially controversial by today's standards, so the shock value is gone for most Western readers, and his characters now have to stand alone, unsupported by sensationalism, revealed in all their tedious mediocrity and complete lack of realism.

I knew James Joyce, senator, and you are no James Joyce. 

Like the 19th century romantics, Lawrence gave himself over to the whole notion of the "noble savage" without thinking through exactly what was involved after one got below the romantic, theoretical surface of the concept.

There were far more things to consider than mere class issues in the relationship of Chatterley and her gamekeeper. In the real world, do you think a real Lady Chatterley, raised in cleanliness, would have been able to get past the stench of the gamekeeper, or the unhygienic plumbing-free living conditions in his hut, or his undoubtedly poor dental care? It doesn't really matter whether she believed in the equality of man. I saw plenty of beautiful poor girls in the villages of the third world, but I wasn't about to have sex with any of them after they wore the same clothes for weeks without bathing, never brushed their teeth, and usually smelled of their own body wastes. OK, I might have thought about bringing them back to the hotel and cleaning them up (although I never did), but certainly not about having sex in their huts, which had no plumbing or electricity. That's the same issue Lady Chatterley would have had to overcome in the real world - yet she got it on right in the hut. In reality, I doubt she would have been able to kiss the gamekeeper without vomiting.

Ken Russell specializes in literary adaptations and biopics, although his work always seems to have more to do with Ken Russell than with Liszt or Tchaikovsky or Huxley. To his credit, Russell mimimized his flamboyant imagery and music, and included only one of his typically daffy dream/fantasy sequences. He did a reasonably solid interpretation of Lawrence's work, catching the essence of the class struggle as well as the sensuality which made the work so controversial in early part of the past century.

Tuna's comments in yellow:

Lady Chatterley (1992) is a BBC 4-part mini-series written and directed by Ken Russell, and based on three books by D. H. Lawrence, including Lady Chatterley's Lover. The other two lesser known books were also about Lady Chatterley. Lady Chatterley's Lover was banned in the UK, and was the subject of their most famous obscenity trial. The proponents of the book finally won out. This series is rated 4.8 of 10 at IMDB, which is a fairly accurate view of the film's merit as entertainment.

The story is really less about the infamous love affair between Lady Chatterley and the gamekeeper than it is about the evils of class distinction in the first part of the 20th century. The film begins just after WWI, when Lord Chatterley returns home for the war paralyzed fro the waist down. He can't bring himself to touch his beautiful wife, and encourages her to take a lover, and, if possible, bear him an heir. She is not at all interested, but tires of being nursemaid to this bitter, demanding man. She finds peace in the woods at the cottage where the gamekeeper lives, and eventually finds the qualities in him that unleash her sexuality. She is a nature lover, and believes that people are created equal, and that everyone deserves respect. When word of the affair gets out, the gamekeeper becomes a social outcast.

DVD info from Amazon

  • full screen

  • interview with director Ken Russell

In this 3 1/2 hour form, it is a very dull watch, except for the nudity. Lady Chatterley is played by Joely Richardson, daughter of Vanessa Redgrave, who was 27 when the film was made. She is nude in several scenes, some of them in clear light, and we see extensive full frontal and breast views, and some good shots of her buns as well.

The Critics Vote

  • TV series. No major reviews online

The People Vote ...


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "this film is a C as a BBC/PBS-style mini-series. I don't know if most people would sit through this if it were a version edited for network TV, but it's an easy enough watch in the uncensored version, simply because there's plenty of full-frontal nudity from Joely Richardson". Tuna says, "Dull. Yet, with the great exposure, photography and DVD transfer, I will give it a C+."

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