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190 of 192 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly Illuminating "Shadowlands."
"Shadowlands" (or "Through The Shadowlands," as it's frequently called,) started as a stage play, became this extroidnary BBC production, then a severly edited American video, then an American theatrical feature starring Anthony Hopkins, and then a book. Obviously, this story's impact resinates and remains powerful through different interpretation and versions. This...
Published on April 20, 2006 by D. M. Morris

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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stop the Music!
In nearly every way, this television adaptation is more satisfying & certainly better acted than the better known movie of the same name. As C.S. Lewis, Joss Ackland is far more heartbreaking & believable than Anthony Hopkins. In the movie, Hopkins does his put-upon somnambulist act that he has used so often before (e.g., "The Remains of the Day"); Ackland, by contrast,...
Published on August 17, 2005 by Ted L. Reinert


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190 of 192 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly Illuminating "Shadowlands.", April 20, 2006
This review is from: Through the Shadowlands (DVD)
"Shadowlands" (or "Through The Shadowlands," as it's frequently called,) started as a stage play, became this extroidnary BBC production, then a severly edited American video, then an American theatrical feature starring Anthony Hopkins, and then a book. Obviously, this story's impact resinates and remains powerful through different interpretation and versions. This presentation stands above all of them, though.

This DVD includes BOTH the full length 90 minute BBC version, as well as a worthless 73 minute version, which was released on video in the states for "Christian" markets. Regretfully, that abridged 73 minute video is what most people in the US mistakenly think is the "original BBC" movie. That jumpy and truncated version was done without input or approval from the director, Norman Stone, and aparently exists solely because someone wanted all alcohol and smoking removed. Therefore, scenes of Lewis discussing his beliefs with skeptical Oxford dons are gone, because the professors are holding cigars and brandy. The Christmas Holiday scenes are also cut because there is wine on the dinner table, etc, depriving the viewer of significant and pivital elements of the tightly constructed story and character development. The releasing studio's "justification" for the chopped up version was that it could be used for church classes or discussion groups becuase it's shorter. However, it only saves 15 minutes, which certianly doesn't justify the tremendous loss to the narative.

Josh Ackland's portrayal of Lewis is relentlessly engaging to watch. Lewis' brilliance, confidence, and joy, with intellectual and spiritual pursuits is completely brought to the screen. Without it, his sense of loss, anger, questioning, and understanding could never of had the subsequent impact on the viewer.

Claire Bloom is also completely believable as the Jewish, intellectual, Christian, articulate, single mother who eventually melts Lewis' heart. However, when compared to the performance of Debra Winger in the theatrical version, Claire Bloom definately comes across as much more of an English woman than Debra Winger's portrayal, which actually sounds like a Jewish woman from New York, as she should.

Beyond the fresh, and possibly more accurate, performance by Debra Winger in the theatrical version, this BBC production is superior in almost every way. I say, "almost" because, as others have pointed out, the music in this production doesn't rise to the quality of every other aspect. Not only is the music fairly pedantic, but it's not mixed particularly well, either, and tends to stand out more than it should.

Rising HIGH above any shortcomings, this movie is one of my all-time favorites, and retains all of its' magic, brilliance, and wisdom, through repeated viewings. I can not praise this film highly enough, and I only hope that the recent success of the feature film "Narnia" will introduce new viewers to this masterwork.
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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Method Attempting To Get Through The Shadowlands, September 21, 2006
This review is from: Through the Shadowlands (DVD)
"The very man who has argued you down, will sometimes be found, years later, to have been influenced by what you said." - C.S. Lewis

This movie was made before the Anthony Hopkins/Debra Winger version of "Shadowlands". It's pacing and presentation are clearly more British, more BBC. I appreciated that even though the movies are similar in length, follow the same plot, similar scene progressions, and use identical dialogue at times - this version acted the same dialogue differently. It's wonderful to see the same material interpreted in good ways. And this movie adds different dialogue. Including the following:

C.S. Lewis: "I never knew what I was supposed to say. What do you say when your mother is dying?"
Joy: "There's nothing like dying to make you realize you're not in charge."
C.S. Lewis: "Yes there is. Loving someone does that too."

The story is about facing mortality. Or said another way, facing the loss of life, where the loss is losing the interactive life force of another person you love.

C.S. Lewis is speaking with a professor colleague when C.S. Lewis is doing all he can to fight Joy's cancer. C.S. Lewis, using all his tangible & intangible efforts (the best doctors, the best hospitals, prayer, becoming learned on the medical conditions, etc.), is powerless to effect positive health restoring change for Joy. And the professor says, "I've never seen you really want something before. I was wondering what you'd say if you didn't get it."

In Joy Gresham, C.S. Lewis found someone who had not only considered atheism, religions, & diverse politics intelligently and independently, but he also found someone who understood & interpretted him uncommonly well. C.S. Lewis had encountered thousands of students, fellow intellectuals, literary critics, and learned fans. Yet he understood how rare Joy was in interaction with him.

In the Debra Winger film, Joy is extremely challenging & critical. C.S. Lewis eventually appreciates that Joy speaks on the topics everyone else in his circle of friends and family agrees to not challenge him on. Joy shows him his unspoken cultural, social, & literary boundaries and he slowly and grudgingly admires her loving, yet sometimes uncomfortable honesty. "Americans don't understand about inhibitions."

In this BBC version, Joy is portrayed as smart, but she holds her tongue far more. She is less demanding & challenging. She still has genuinely rare perspectives and a willingness to spar with him. Her portrayal seems more consistent with general expectations of women of that generation.

I don't know whether Joy was more consistent with either actress' interpretation. I would guess that for as much as C.S. Lewis appeared to love her and be disarmed by her, she was probably capable of alternating between both "roles" for him, adapting with his feedback. Whoever Joy actually was, he knew the combination of Joy's talents & their genuinely enlightening conversations would be lost forever in her absence. And while he had a keen mind, great education, and exceptional intelligent social circles, replacing her loss would in the end be impossible. He could focus on all the other positives available to him and create similar chemistries with others. He could encourage and grow all those things in her absence, but her absence would always be a unique loss to him intellectually and socially.

The movie capably frames the question of: What do you do when you lose a rare human being you love? What do you do when you realize that loss will be for the rest of your life? What are humans to do with that reality, from either religious or atheistic perspectives? These issues are important because, regardless of religious perspective, they face everyone who has been loved well.

While Joy is still aside him, C.S. Lewis says in a radio address, "Most people know that they want something that cannot be had in this world. One has a glimpse of a country where everyone there is filled with something we should call goodness, as a mirror is filled with light. They do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one's eyes can see very beyond that."

When C.S. Lewis faced losing someone he really wanted to stay in communication with (the loss of his mother, the loss of Joy, the loss of his wife), he wrote. He found words to say. Why did he write? To tell everyone his ideas? Maybe. But I give him more credit, intellect, and good intent. I think he wrote in part to attempt to have a similar effect on the world that those women had on him. Through his writing, the positive lifeforces of the women in his life and their uncommonly good interchange of oppositions, were possibly shared with others. Mere love.
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adding my voice to the consensus that this one is superior..., March 7, 2007
By 
Bob Haskell (Ensenada, Baja California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Through the Shadowlands (DVD)
Anthony Hopkins did indeed "sleepwalk" his way through the American version. One got a sort of sanitized love story which was, as another reviewer said, oblivious to the identity or character of C.S. Lewis.

Having been profoundly moved by the BBC movie, when I went to see the Anthony Hopkins/Debra Winger thing I was disgusted. It's just a major studio going for the bucks, using the inherent pathos of the story, but not understanding it at all, or caring. The BBC version was much more focused on, and aware of, background, implications, details, etc... and it is quite likely that they actually knew who C.S. Lewis was.

And why on Earth would the Hollywood hotshots change the real story by reducing Joy's offspring to ONE son, when she had two?

They both appear in the BBC version. And so does a believable C.S. Lewis - unlike the Hollywood travesty.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Portrait of Love and Loss, March 1, 2007
This review is from: Through the Shadowlands (DVD)
"C.S. Lewis Through the Shadowlands" is a beautiful love story and a sensitive portrayal of grief. In this BBC television special, we find American poet Joy Gresham (Claire Bloom) writing to C.S. Lewis in England. As they discuss ideas about mythical doors and poetry, her letters bring about an intellectual friendship. I love the part where Joy talks about wandering into the wrong houses as she is looking for a home.

When C.S. Lewis asks her if she thinks she has found a home, she says she thinks she has. It is very cute and sentimental. The story progresses from a winter of Joy's marriage dying to the full blossoming of her love with C.S. Lewis. The focus of this movie is on the relationship and nothing much is said about any of the books, except there are a few conversations where Joy shows she has a complete knowledge of the books he has written.

If you have read "A Grief Observed" or if you have an interest in finding out more about C.S. Lewis' personal life, then this will introduce you to the warmth of Joy and the caring nature of C.S. Lewis.

If you are looking for information on the life and work of C.S. Lewis, may I recommend "The Magic Never Ends." It is truly fascinating and includes a list of his 38 books and more information on books written about his life.

~The Rebecca Review
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stop the Music!, August 17, 2005
This review is from: Through the Shadowlands (DVD)
In nearly every way, this television adaptation is more satisfying & certainly better acted than the better known movie of the same name. As C.S. Lewis, Joss Ackland is far more heartbreaking & believable than Anthony Hopkins. In the movie, Hopkins does his put-upon somnambulist act that he has used so often before (e.g., "The Remains of the Day"); Ackland, by contrast, presents a wrenching portrait of a man who awakens to the possibility of love just as that love is snatched away from him. And it's hard to imagine a finer performance than Claire Bloom's. She must be the most overlooked actress in the world. She seems incapable of giving a bad performance.

But this television production is marred by the excruciating music throughout. I wonder what author Wm. Nicholson thought of it when he first heard that ghastly music polluting his beautiful screenplay? The dreadful score makes the television production very nearly unwatchable. If only it could be eliminated, I expect I'd give the show five stars. As it is, three is generous.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True and Moving Portrait, January 9, 2007
By 
John W. Schlatter (Grand Junction, Colorado) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Through the Shadowlands (DVD)
I found this film far superior to the one featuring Anthony Hopkins which pretty much ignored the influence Christianity had on Lewis and his impact on the Christian world..

Very Inspirational and Insightful..I have watched it five times...
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and well-acted, March 13, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Through the Shadowlands (DVD)
After years of reading Lewis' literature, I was pleased to watch this movie about his relationship with Joy Gresham. (How thrilling she had the same name as I do!) I have always felt that because I read Lewis throughout my growing up years, his ideology and viewpoint have shaped the very way I think. I felt that this depiction of Lewis was true to the person he was, the way he thought, and the way he lived. For much of the movie he continually denies his love for Joy, not so much to others as to himself. Not being one to let emotions rule him, he had trouble recognizing the depth of his feeling for Joy. However, when he finally let himself see it, his love for her added depth and dimension to life that he hadn't known was missing, like suddenly seeing a picture in 3-D. Although that depth brings pain as well as pleasure, he comes to realize that not to have opened himself up to the pain of love is in some way not to have lived. The depiction of Lewis' loss made me weep, not just for him as for all of us who lose the ones we have let ourselves love. This movie was both an enjoyable experience and a challenge to accept the fullness that life offers. After all, God himself gave us life, not just to exist but to live fully.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True to Lewis' life (as opposed to the Hollywood version), August 15, 2013
This review is from: Through the Shadowlands (DVD)
I have heard so much about the comparisons between this movie and the Hollywood version, as far as the acting and production values. But few people mention how much more true this version (the BBC version) is to the actual life and faith of C. S. Lewis.

I have read Lewis' auto-biographical work (Surprised By Joy), as well as his brother's biography, his wife's biography, his step-son's biography, and the biography of the Inklings (the Christian writers group that Lewis was in, along with Tolkien), as well as reading almost every other book Lewis has written. I also directed the Atlanta premiere of the stage version of this movie. And I can tell you that the Hollywood/Hopkins version gives a very poor presentation of the true passion and enduring faith of C.S. Lewis.

The BBC version (the version I am reviewing here), is not only acted well by Joss Acklund and Claire Bloom, but presents a man who would never deny the underlying Christian meaning of his books and life (as opposed to the Hollywood version). And it presents a man who, yes, went through some deep valleys of despair, but ultimately came out with his faith in Jesus Christ very much intact. (Unlike the Hollywood movie, which regularly plays down his Christian faith and ends with a broken Lewis looking to an agnostic student for answers.)

So...if you want to actually watch a well-acted movie about the actual man C.S. Lewis, then I suggest you purchase this beautiful video.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars C.S. Lewis: Through the Shadowlands, January 9, 2009
This review is from: Through the Shadowlands (DVD)
There are two DVDs entitled Shadowlands this Joss Ackland, 2004, version and the Anthony Hopkins 1993 version. Do not confuse them. The Joss Ackland, 2004, version is by far and away the better one. Better acted, better directed and better scored. This is truely one of the most memberable and moving movies I have ever seen. Mr. Ackland's performance as C. S. Lewis is stellar, Rupert Baderman as Douglas and Claire Bloom as Joy are both superb. If you care about C. S. Lewis, you should add this DVD to your collection.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent story...horendous music!, November 10, 2005
This review is from: Through the Shadowlands (DVD)
this film is a monumentally better depiction of the events and faith of C.S. Lewis and his relationship with Joy. Joss Ackland is excellent as Lewis and the faith that drove and sustained lewis is never undermined by hollywood emotionalism as in the Attenburough film staring Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins is just outright boring and dull witted as Lewis.

This film is far better save the score! if you can make it through your perserverance will reward you.
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Through the Shadowlands
Through the Shadowlands by Norman Stone (DVD - 2004)
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