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Director/co-writer Pascale Ferran brings a unique mixture of frank sexuality and lyrical aesthetics to D.H. Lawrence's celebrated and subversive love story. Lady Chatterley (Marina Hands) is a repressed young woman married to a lieutenant (Hippolyte Girardot) paralyzed from the waist down after being wounded in WWI. After accidentally glimpsing the naked back of burly gamekeeper Oliver Parkin (Jean-Louis Coulloc'h), she begins a series of daily visits to the beautiful environs of his wooden cabin. Surrounded by lush flora, the two lovers re-awaken each other's desire for life. Winner of Five César Awards, including Best Film and Best Actress.
 

 Lady Chatterley

Travel Log

A little while ago, I leaned out of my New York hotel window to smoke a cigarette and I came face to face with a squirrel. He vaguely turned to look at me, not very interested by my presence, then went about his business: running from branch to branch, cleaning his nose with his front paws, etc.

I had already noticed this in the parks of New York: American squirrels are very different from European squirrels; bigger, more gray than red and considerably less wild. In France, the little red squirrels are as wild as coyotes. (I say this because of Mr. Connolly’s novels but, to tell you the truth, I don’t know if American coyotes are that wild.) Anyway, when I think of how difficult the scene between Constance and the squirrel was to film in France, I say to myself that it would have been much simpler to film it here.

***

A few days ago, in New York, there was a cocktail organized for the film, sponsored by a famous brand of lingerie. While I was taking absurd photos with fashion models, I was told that there were concerns about displaying the poster for the film in the store window. It was too crude and too sexual for their taste. (The poster here incriminated is the image of the two lovers making love in the forest. We only see their faces, particularly Constance’s smiling face. It’s an image that conveys both pleasure and joy. The joy of physical love and life’s energy all in one.)

So, the image was seen as too crude.

Yet everywhere in the window and in the rest of the store, on other posters, on mannequins and video monitors, there were half-naked women, selling their charm to promote the brand in question.

I would have loved to tell this story to D.H. Lawrence, the author of the novel. I would have loved for him to know that 80 years after the publication of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, when the human body has become a merchandise item everywhere, the simple image of a sexually fulfilled couple still raises issues.

That’s what I believe is at the heart of the matter. I imagine that all over the world thousands of pages have been written on the Lady Chatterley scandal and why it was banned for decades. My natural tendency would be to retain only one explanation: it is a guiltless love story. The two lovers transgress all the rules that existed in their time, all the accepted behaviors, all the unwritten social codes, and they do it without any sense of guilt. This points to the revolutionary power of physical love when its fulfillment is fused with the personal liberation of the two protagonists.

***

While sitting in the plane on the way to Los Angeles to meet film students, I am reminded of the writings of Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish writer who won the Nobel Prize for literature. Roger Bohbot, the film’s co-screenwriter, gave it to me during a dinner before I left Paris. Panuk writes: “Any true literature relies on the simple and optimistic belief that all men are alike.“ The sentence in its purity and simplicity is as translucent as a brilliantly cut diamond. Of course I agree. And no other cultural or racial difference, whether we are dealing with squirrels or human beings, will make me think otherwise.