Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 27th, 2016
BluRay released: August 22nd, 2016
Approximate running time: 131 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.75:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Stereo English, LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: BFI
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £19.99 (UK)
Women in Love was directed by Ken Russell whose other notable films include, The Music Lovers, The Devils, Tommy and Crimes of Passion. Key collaborators on Women in Love include, cinematographer Billy Williams (The Mind of Mr. Soames) and composer Georges Delerue (Contempt, The Conformist). The screenplay for Women in Love was adapted from D.H. Lawrence’s novel of the same name. Twenty years after directing Women in Love Ken Russell would adapt D.H. Lawrence’s novel The Rainbow.
Though this film is set during the 1920’s, a time socially when things were very different then they are today. The themes which this film explores, most notably relationships are just as potent as they were back then due to their universal appeal. Another strength of this film is the way in which its depicts love. With the purest example being Ursula and Rupert’s relationship. Then there is Gudrun and Gerald’s relationship which is fueled by the addictive rush of being in love and beyond that it lacks substance. And the third paring being Rupert and Gerald, platonic friends who love for each other is equal to that of the women they love.
From a production stand point this film delivers and then some. And nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to this film’s rock solid visuals. Standout moments visually include, the scene where newlyweds drown in a lake and the lake is then drained to recover their bodies. Other standout moments include a nude wrestling scene between Rupert and Gerald. And the scene where Gerald has a break down when he realizes he can never have what he really wants.
Performance wise the entire cast are great in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performances coming from Alan Bates (A Kind of Loving) in the role of Rupert and Glenda Jackson (A Touch of Class) in the role of Gudrun. Other notable performances include, Eleanor Bron (Bedazzled) in the role of Hermione, a narcissistic aristocrat begins the film as Rupert’s love interest and Oliver Reed (The Devils) doing what he does best in the role of Gerald, playing self-destructive characters.
Women in Love comes on a 50 GB dual layer (46.1 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The source for this releases transfer is a brand new 4k restoration by the BFI National Archive and the end result is easily the best this film has ever looked on home video. Colors are nicely saturated and appropriately vibrant, black levels, shadow detail and image clarity remain solid throughout. Also grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM stereo mix in English. Both audio mixes are in great shape as dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Also these audio mixes deliver in regards to depth and range. With the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack being well represented. And included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include, an stills / promo gallery, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 31 seconds), a short film titled Second Best (26 minutes 33 seconds – 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio, in English), an interview with actress Glenda Jackson titled The Peacemakers (14 minutes 19 seconds), a lengthy second audio only interview with Glenda Jackson recorded at The National Film Theater in 1982 (77 minutes), an in-depth interview with cinematographer Billy Williams (49 minutes 17 seconds), two audio commentaries – the first audio commentary with director Ken Russell and the second audio commentary with screenwriter / producer Larry Kramer.
The short film titled Second Best was also adapted from short story also written by D.H. Lawrence.
Topics discussed in the interview with Glena Jackson titled The Peacemakers is essentially a vintage behind the scenes featurette for the film Sunday Bloody Sunday.
Topics discussed in the audio interview with Glenda Jackson include, what her career ambitions were before she became an actress, Women in Love and why she was cast for this film, how she finds film vastly superior to television for actors, what type of roles does she seek out, how difficult it is to get original material made into a film and various other films that she worked on.
Topics discussed in the interview with Billy Williams include, Women in Love and look of the film, working with Ken Russell, locations featured in the film, key moments visually and how he was able to create the visual effect from those moments, film verse digital, shooting anamorphic verse academy ratio and additional cinematography related topics.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary with Ken Russell include, the difference between novel and film, casting choices, the cast and information about them, costume and set design, locations featured in the film, the visuals, the score, shooting nude scene, themes explored in the film and key moments.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary with Larry Kramer include, author D.H. Lawrence and background information about him, locations featured in the film, the cast and information about them, collaborating with Ken Russell and the look of the film, his thoughts on key moments and other production related topics.
Rounding out the extras is a sixteen-page booklet with two essays about the film – the first essay titled Women in Love written by Michael Brooke and a second essay titled The Costumes written by Claire Smith, a bio essay about Ken Russell written by Paul Sutton, cast & crew information and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Women in Love gets a definitive release from BFI, highly recommended.