Video Info:

The French Lieutenant's Woman

Starring: Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, et al.
Director: Karel Reisz,

Edition Details:
PAL format
HiFi Sound, Colour, PAL
ASIN: B00004CJ2K
Catalogue Number: 16174S

Films by Harold Pinter
The French Lieutenant's Woman 1980

Directed by Karel Reisz

Starring: Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons

Based on the novel by John Fowles

Screenplay by Harold Pinter published in Collected Screenplays 3


It took director Karel Riesz and playwright Harold Pinter to develop an ingenious method to convey the essence of Fowles's book. The film retells the novel's story, set in 1867 of a strange young woman dishonored by her involvement with a French soldier and the English gentleman who finds her mystery and sadness irresistible. Simultaneously, a parallel story of the affair between the two actors portraying the central roles in a film within a film unfolds on screen.

Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep

Pinter's script eventually obscures the borders between the parallel events. At a party at Mike's home, a guest inquires about the film's ending. The actor can't quite remember whether the director has selected the happy or sad conclusion. Later he mistakenly calls Anna, Sarah.

The unconventional approach to Fowles' novel takes some getting used to but succeeds in conveying the complexity of the original in the final analysis. Writer Pinter has always found novel ways of translating other author's work to the screen as can be seen in his screenplays of The Go-between and The Last Tycoon.

Pinter and Reisz sensitivity to the material has paid off handsomely. The film translation of The French Lieutenant's Woman is both literate, imaginative and visually stunning.

Variety, September 9th 1981

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