Richard Attenborough's Shadowlands(PG).
Savoy Pictures, 1993.
Color, 133 minutes

Based on the life of C. S. Lewis and, in part, his life with his wife Joy Gresham, a Jewish Christian Communist from America.

The beauty of this film is in the pain Lewis, played by Anthony Hopkins, feels in losing the love he had never let himself feel, let alone express. It is amazing to watch the confident Oxford professor go from teaching the principles of love and suffering as a theologian to learning the reality of suffering as a shaken and scared old man.

The original Shadowlands is a BBC documentary drama by William Nicholson, broadcast in 1983. Nicholson's mother had been taught by Lewis and disliked him, but when he was commissioned he got interested in the story.

He then wrote a stage play, his first, which was a great West End success in 1989. Nigel Hawthorne created the role of C.S. Lewis and Jane Lapotaire was Joy Davidman (Gresham). It was substantially different from and deeper than the television film. Most of the actual words are of course from Lewis's own writings, published ones as well as letters, including A Grief Observed, his reflections after Joy's death.

I remember watching Nigel Hawthorne, whom of course I knew well as Sir Humphrey from Yes Minister: when suddenly something in his face would turn and he was exactly, spookily, the Jack Lewis of photographs. The other time that especially moved me was when Joy's sons' bedroom opened up into a bright blue sky, and there was the magical call to go higher up and further in.

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