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The Rainbow

Russell's second bash at DH Lawrence is either evidence of a fizzled-out talent or a sad, cliché-ridden attempt to make his film subservient to (part of) the text. He focuses on the later chapters: the story of Ursula Brangwen, wilful, intelligent and independent daughter of Anna (Jackson, who played an older Ursula in Women in Love) and artisan Will (Gable). Ursula engages in an uninhibited, exploratory relationship with her swimming teacher Winifred (cue skinny-dipping and intimate, glowing rub-downs on the hearth rug); falls for the dashing, if rough, charms of army officer Skrebensky (McGann); and, breaking the familial bonds, strives to make her way as a teacher in a school stifled by sexual harrassment and formality. The film reeks of mediocrity, floundering in banal imagery (kisses against boughs, rushing waterfalls, etc). Many essentials in what is a masterful three-generation novel have been jettisoned, and Carl Davis' score is formulary in the extreme. Saving graces are Sammi Davis' earthy, matter-of-fact portrayal of Ursula, and Amanda Donohoe's sensitive Winifred.

Release details

Duration: 111 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ken Russell
Screenwriter: Ken Russell, Vivan Russell
Cast: Sammi Davis
Paul McGann
Amanda Donohoe
Christopher Gable
David Hemmings
Glenda Jackson
Dudley Sutton
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