JT Film Review

18 – Shadowlands (1993)

Shadowlands REVIEW

4/5 stars

Director – Richard Attenborough

Cast – Anthony Hopkins, Debra Winger, Joseph Mazzello, Edward Hardwicke


ShadowlandsShadowlands follows C. S. “Jack” Lewis (the author of, among other things, the Narnia series) and his relationship with Joy Gresham, an American fan and later, his wife. It is a rare romantic drama where both figures are in at least middle age, and where romantic love is treated in a mature and deliberate way. Their actions are thought about, discussed, and deliberated. Richard Attenborough, who directed this, (and one of the greatest World War II movies, A Bridge Too Far) has a wonderful directing style. He presents us with a series of events and characters and lets them influence us, instead of taking some events and jazzing them up and shoving them in our face. The result is a real, thoughtful, moving experience, instead of fake manipulation.

Shadowlands12Anthony Hopkins as C. S. Lewis is, in some ways, a strange choice. He doesn’t look alot like him, except perhaps when he wears the glasses. But he performs well, presenting us with a man who pretends to be sure of everything, but really has many doubts. Debra Winger plays the American woman with whom C. S. Lewis falls in love, and shows us a brash, confident woman (apparently an extension of her own personality.) The son is played well by Joseph Mazzelo, and C. S. Lewis’ brother, Warner, is played by the criminally under-rated Edward Hardwicke (some may know him as the second actor to play Watson to Jeremy Brett’s Holmes in the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes series.)

shadowThis is an emotional movie, but in a restrained way, and that will turn some people off I think. However, I found its sense of restraint to be the best thing about the movie. It’s beautiful in a realistic way, not the bloated “romanticism” of most Hollywood movies. I believe the best way to describe it is that this is a very English movie. Stiff upper lip, restrained, yet sweetly endearing underneath. I found it to be wonderful, but viewers used to more simmering romance or a quicker pace may not enjoy it as much. It is unfortunately, their loss.


This is a good movie, if a bit drawn out. It offers thoughts about the nature of love and loss, and should be enjoyed by anyone with a bit of patience. Another good, solid movie from frequent collaborators Richard Attenborough and Anthony Hopkins (A Bridge Too Far, Magic, Shadowlands, Young Winston, and Chaplin.) Recommended.



“Shadowlands” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia



June 24, 2009 - Posted by | 4 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Romance, Year - 1990-1999 | , , , ,

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