64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Ride the Magic,
This review is from: Shadowlands (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. It was impeccably "right" in authenticity, but so terribly unbecoming!) I also much admired Edward Hardwicke who played Lewis' s brother Warnie. His warmth and genuine kindness set off Hopkins's detachment and shyness. Richard Attenborough made "Shadowlands" a seamless experience.
The DVD pkg. was good, particularly liked the behind-the-scenes feature. The picture was sharp and clear. My only complaint was the sound. The dialogue was frequently hard to understand.