A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Although much of D.H. Lawrence's original notoriety in Britain came from the sexual passion in his novels, what offended convention even more, I think, was his belief that an artistic free spirit need not be concerned with hidebound ideas of social class. When he began to write, in the years before World War I, Britain was a nation of rigid social stratification. Everything depended on who your parents were, and what your accent was. The notion that one could break loose and fly was deeply revolutionary.
In The Rainbow and its sequel, Women in Love, Lawrence created two modern heroines who refused to have their lives defined by their class and their sex. They were defiant. They were artistic. They were not ashamed to have sexual feelings, just as men did. Although neither novel is even remotely pornographic in the current sense of the word, they were censored, banned and pilloried when they were first published - attacked by men who feared that such ideas could lead anywhere, could lead even to women demanding the vote. At the time, Lawrence's The Rainbow was as controversial as his Lady Chatterley's Lover.
Ken Russell, the iconoclastic English director of such wildly different films as "Tommy," "The Boyfriend" and "Lair Of The White Worm," first made his feature-length reputation with the brilliant "Women in Love," released in 1969. Twenty years later, he is back with a film version of the first novel. The two films are linked by Glenda Jackson, who now plays the mother of the character she played in 1969.
The movie takes place in rural England around the time of the World War I, and centers on the story of Ursula Brangwen (Sammi Davis), daughter of an old, established and respectable farming family, who has no desire to march in step with the requirements of her family tradition. She is restless and inquisitive, and in Winifred, the local schoolteacher (Amanda Donohoe), she finds an older woman to model herself after.