Friday, March 05, 2010

Men In Love

D.H. Lawrence's Women In Love is as much about men in love as it is about heterosexual love. The latter is a given, and Lawrence's portrayal of the two primary relationships between Birkin and Ursula, Gerald and Gudrun, are the extremes that remind us of Lawrence's own marriage with Frida. Yet the tragedy of the novel, and the sad ending with Birkin and Ursula in disagreement, can only be understood as the inability of Birkin and Gerald to form a lasting, mutually supportive relationship. 

Lawrence wrote about male bonding in all of his novels. In Women In Love, he uses the term "implicit," to describe the sort of love he had in mind. Yet, the nude wrestling scene in the novel, so beautifully rendered in film by Ken Russell and screen writer Larry Kramer, with Alan Bates and Oliver Reed, reveals a physical need that goes to the heart. The description of the embrace of the two men in chapter XX, Gladiatorial, is about penetration, about entering one another's being, about being physically intimate, if not explicitly sexual. Lawrence conjures nothing short of orgasm, however, as the two men fall back, unconscious, in exhaustion after the wrestling match.

What I think Lawrence got right is that we all need both  sexes intimately in our lives. Straights need same sex intimacy and gays need opposite sex intimacy--not just casual friends but something much deeper, a genuine, life-long commitment. In a world where people form couples and are shuttled into box size homes with their ever needy 2.5 children, such intimacy is hard to find. Yet the lack of it may well explain the sad disillusionment of so many divorces.

Jack Miller

BBC plans a new rendition of Lawrence's masterpiece soon:

BBC4 to adapt DH Lawrence's Women in Love

Drama joins TV version of John Braine's Room at the Top in season exploring love and sexuality in 20th century literature

Women in Love: Oliver Reed and Alan Bates
Oliver Reed and Alan Bates wrestle in the 1969 film version of Women in Love. Photograph: MGM
It was responsible for one of the most memorable fight scenes ever committed to celluloid. Now DH Lawrence's Women in Love, turned into a film by Ken Russell starring Oliver Reed and Alan Bates, is to be adapted as a TV drama for BBC4.

Women in Love and John Braine's novel Room at the Top will lead a season of programmes on the BBC digital arts and culture channel exploring love and sexuality in 20th century literature.
Russell's 1969 adaptation, for which Glenda Jackson won a best actress Oscar, made cinema history with the controversial naked wrestling contest between Reed and Bates. It remains to be seen how the BBC4 version will tackle the scene.
The new adaptation will also draw on Lawrence's The Rainbow, to which Women in Love was written as a sequel. Lawrence had originally intended to publish them together as The Sisters.
Richard Klein, the BBC4 controller, said: "Modern adaptations are a new direction for drama on the channel and I'm delighted to bring alive for viewers these iconic, but sometimes overlooked, classic novels. They will form the backbone of a season exploring how relationships between men and women, including sexual relations, were written about and conducted.
"The 20th century has seen an enormous change in the way that men and women behave towards each other and how they conduct relationships between each other. This season aims to explore and contextualise those changes, as well as give viewers an opportunity to see how Lawrence and Braine approached the same subject in different ways."
Women in Love and The Rainbow chart the loves and lives of two sisters, Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen, viewed chiefly through their relationships with friends Rupert Birkin and Gerald Crich. They will be turned into a two-part drama by writer Billy Ivory, whose credits include the BBC's binmen drama Common as Muck.
Mark Pybus, a producer at Company Pictures, which will make the Lawrence adaptation, said the two novels had never been combined for a TV drama before.
"Taking the two books together will allow Billy to tell a larger story, covering not just the relationships between men and women, but also the brutal impact of the first world war in transforming a rural community into 20th century modernity," he said.
"The whole area of sex and sexual relations is at the root of both novels: what we do, with whom, and why ... that was what Lawrence was trying to fathom; questions (and answers) which are as valid today as ever."
Room at the Top, a triangular love story set in 1940s Yorkshire, is being adapted by Amanda Coe, whose TV credits include episodes of Shameless and BBC4's dramatisation of the life of Mary Whitehouse, Filth: the Mary Whitehouse Story. The BBC said it would be the first screen version of the book since 1959.
Ben Stephenson, the BBC controller of drama commissioning, said: "I am thrilled that two of our most exciting screenwriters, Billy Ivory and Amanda Coe, are reinterpreting the works of two of the 20th century's most daring and honest voices – DH Lawrence and John Braine – and bringing them back into the spotlight." 


No comments:

Post a Comment