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4.2 out of 5 stars 259 customer reviews

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(Apr 13, 1999)
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Editorial Reviews


This emotionally moving romantic drama was adapted by William Nicholson from his own acclaimed play, based upon the real-life romance (during the 1950s) between the British writer C.S. Lewis and a divorced American poet named Joy Gresham. Best known for writing The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) is living comfortably as a respected Oxford don, his academic lifestyle a kind of shell protecting him from the emotional risk of love. Joy Gresham (Debra Winger) arrives at Oxford as an avid admirer of Lewis's writing, and the safety of his collegiate routine is quickly disrupted when Lewis realizes that he's fallen deeply and unexpectedly in love. Their courtship is uniquely engaging; he's shy and uncertain, she's outspoken and bold. But when Joy is diagnosed with cancer, Lewis's Christian faith is put to the test--he cannot fathom why their happiness together would be so drastically challenged. Together, they find a way to accept and honor the time they have shared together, and under the sensitive direction of Richard Attenborough, Shadowlands arrives at a conclusion that is both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Hopkins and Winger are equally superb in this absorbing story of personal and spiritual transformation--a story previously filmed for British television in 1985, with Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Behind-the-scenes featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Debra Winger, Michael Denison, Andrew Seear, Tim McMullan
  • Directors: Richard Attenborough
  • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Hbo Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 13, 1999
  • Run Time: 131 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0783113315
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,192 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Shadowlands" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Only 2 movies I have seen in my life have made me cry out loud. This was one of them. This is the ONLY movie I have ever seen whose lesson has not left me, even after several years. "The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal". An incredibly profound concept, but so true. No wonder Lewis said of her that she represented to him the whole world in a single mind. The lesson of this film is mind-blowing for anyone who has ever tried to shield himself from the prospect of pain that comes with just living and engaging in human relationships.

Hopkins completely disappears into the role. It is probably the finest acting performance I have ever seen from anyone in any film.

This is one of those films that belongs on the bookshelf at home, right alongside "Mere Christianity".
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Format: DVD
"I seem to play men who are sort of imprisoned in themselves," Anthony Hopkins comments in an interview included on this movie's DVD. And although this adequately characterizes a mere fraction of his work, roles like that of butler Stevens in Merchant/Ivory's adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's "Remains of the Day," Henry Wilcox in E.M. Forster's "Howards End" (also by Merchant/Ivory) and even Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter, illustrate Hopkins's minimalist approach to acting, which makes him so uniquely qualified to play emotionally restrained men, locked up behind the walls erected by convention, trauma or madness. Thus, while bearing little physical resemblance to the real C.S. Lewis, atheist-turned-Christian scholar and bestselling author of the famous "Narnia Chronicles," Hopkins was a natural choice for the role in this movie about Lewis and his wife-to-be, American poet Joy Gresham (Debra Winger).

Albeit subtitled "based on a true story," "Shadowlands" doesn't purport to recount the couple's relationship in its full complexity - that would take much more than a 2 hours, 15 minutes-long film, if it were accomplishable at all. On equally strong intellectual footing, Joy Gresham and "Jack" Lewis were bound to each other not only by a joint interest in literature and because Joy challenged all assumed bases of Lewis's scholarly life, but also by their personal geneses as convert Christians (he coming from atheism, she from Judaism, at least partly influenced by Lewis's writings).
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Format: DVD
The sheer beauty of this film is stunning. Scenes of Oxford and its magnificent medieval buildings are breathtaking. The famed splendor of the English countryside beguiles. Add to this the spectacular performance of Sir Anthony Hopkins playing revered author/philosopher C.S. Lewis, and you have a stellar movie.
Shadowlands is set in the early '50s when Lewis was a middle-aged bachelor. All is well in his world. He is a huge success as an author, teacher and speaker. His life is well ordered to the point of being hum drum, and it is exactly the way he likes it. He meets an American, Joy Gresham (excellently played by Debra Winger) who turns his life upside down. Probably for the first time in his life, he does something really foolish. He marries Joy to give her "green card" status. The marriage is supposed to be "only technical." He lives in Oxford, she in London. Joy becomes ill, and Lewis realizes the depth of his feeling for her. Only when she has received a death sentence, does he fully and reluctantly give himself over to his love for her. When he loses her, his grief and pain devastate him to the point where he actually loses his faith. Joy has tried to prepare him, "We can't have the happiness of yesterday without the pain of today. That's the deal." but nothing in Lewis's life has readied him for it.
Yes, "Shadowlands" is a two-hankie affair, but not in the usual sense. It is a path and a journey and a reawakening. Hopkins is so powerful in his role that the viewer sees Lewis as multi-faceted: a shy man, almost naïve in many areas, detached but armored with huge intelligence and cosmopolitan skills. Debra Winger plays off him with a wonderful chemistry. (I had to wince at her perfect '50s wardrobe.
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Format: VHS Tape
I admit that this movie was visually interesting & performaces were very good, but I repeat my review of the BBC Version here: I watched this movie in the BBC version on encore, when I had been ill a long time. It was very difficult to watch at places, but was also extremely helpful to me during a painful time. I would recommend it to everyone, but most especially to anyone who is ill or cares about someone who is ill. I do think that it needs to be watched at least twice because, I find that each time I watch it, I pick up even more nuances. In my view. it beats the Anthony Hopkins, Debra Winger version, hands down. I once bought the BBC 70 minutes version that was aired in the U. S., thinking that it was the same but, it was not. With 20 minutes edited out, it does not compare either. Too much of the man's faith is missing from both movies which leaves it with a watered down effect and less significance. I don't know what possessed them to take away the essence of this man in the other versions but, after anxiously anticipating them, I found myself greatly disappointed in both. If you want more of the real man's story and less hollywood story telling, then I recommend the 90-95 minute version by the BBC, with Joss Ackland & Claire Bloom. You may find that you still like both versions but, that is my definitive favorite! :)
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SHADOWLANDS w/Anthony Hopkins: Out-of-Print? Why?
This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. I don't understand why new copies are not available at a reasonable price. The used copies are extremely expensive!
Oct 6, 2014 by dasha1 |  See all 6 posts
Burning Curiosity
Hi! I agree with you 100%! I've been looking for this for years and years and can't find it in the original version: Hopkins/Winger Region 1 voiced in English. They are either Region 2 and don't tell you it's Region 2, or they are Region 1 but not spoken in English--You hear them speak in a... Read More
Feb 1, 2015 by Alicia Pevensie Lavere |  See all 2 posts
Beware of the region 2 DVD Be the first to reply
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