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The French Lieutenant's Woman Details

FULL SYNOPSIS

John Fowles' original novel The French Lieutenant's Woman was distinguished by a literary technique that involved telling a story of Victorian sexual and social oppression within the bounds of a 1970s viewpoint. How does one convey this time-frame dichotomy on film? The decision made by director Karel Reisz and Harold Pinter was to frame Fowles' basic plot within a "modern" context of their own making. While we watch as Sarah (Meryl Streep), a 19th-century Englishwoman ruined by an affair with a French lieutenant, enters into another disastrous relationship with principled young Charles (Jeremy Irons), we are constantly made aware that what we're seeing is only a film. This is done by surrounding the story with a modern narrative, focusing on a movie production company which is on location--filming The French Lieutenant's Woman. Meryl Streep doubles in the role of Sara and the American actress who plays her, while Jeremy Irons essays the dual role of Charles and the handsome Briton playing Charles. Likewise, everyone else in the cast is seen as "themselves" and as their French Lieutenant's Woman characters. Not surprisingly, the "real" Streep and Irons enter into an affair which closely parallels their characters' relationship. The commercial TV version of French Lieutenant's Woman eliminates 30 minutes' worth of "extraneous" scenes. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:September 18, 1981

Awards

Awarded by
Nominee
Category
Year
Status
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Ivan Sharrock Best Sound 1981 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Ann Mollo Best Art Direction 1981 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Assheton Gorton Best Art Direction 1981 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tom Rand Best Costume Design 1981 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Bill Rowe Best Sound 1981 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Harold Pinter Best Screenplay 1981 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Harold Pinter Best Adapted Screenplay 1981 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Freddie Francis Best Cinematography 1981 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Meryl Streep Best Actress 1981 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Meryl Streep Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama 1981 Winner
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Meryl Streep Best Actress 1981 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Meryl Streep Best Actress 1981 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences John Bloom Best Editing 1981 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Don Sharpe Best Sound 1981 Winner

Cast

Meryl Streep
as Sarah Woodruff/Anna
Jeremy Irons
as Charles Smithson/Mike
Hilton McRae
as Sam
Emily Morgan
as Mary
Lynsey Baxter
as Ernestina
Jean Faulds
as Cook
Peter Vaughan
as Mr. Freeman
Colin Jeavons
as Vicar
Liz Smith
as Mrs. Fairley
Leo McKern
as Dr. Grogan
Arabella Weir
as Girl on Undercliff
Catherine Willmer
as Dr. Grogan's housekeeper
Richard Griffiths
as Sir Tom
Graham Fletcher-Cook
as Delivery Boy
Michael Elwyn
as Montague
Toni Palmer
as Mrs. Endicott
Cecily Hobbs
as Betty Anne
Doreen Mantle
as Lady on Train
David Warner
as Murphy
Vicky Ireland
Mary McLeod
Clare Travers-Deacon
Gerard Falconetti
as Davide
Richard Hope
as 3rd Assistant
Joanna Joseph
as Lizzie
Alun Armstrong
as Grimes
Beverly Garland
Harriet Walter
Penelope Wilton
as Sonia

Crew

Karel Reisz
Director
Leon Clore
Producer
Harold Pinter
Screenwriter
Freddie Francis
Cinematographer
John Bloom
Editor
Assheton Gorton
Production Designer
Terry Pritchard
Art Director
Norman Dorme
Art Director
Allan Cameron
Art Director
Geoffrey Helman
Associate Producer
Ann Mollo
Set Designer
Tom Rand
Costume Designer
Allan Bryce
Special Effects
Chris Burt
Production Manager
Don Sharpe
Sound Editor
Ivan Sharrock
Sound Recordist
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