Shadowlands

Cover of "Shadowlands"
Cover of Shadowlands

Shadowlands is a movie based on the friendship, marriage and love (in that order) of British author and Cambridge professor C.S. Lewis and American writer and divorcee, Joy Gresham. The Japanese title is 永遠の愛に生きて。It stars Anthony Hopkins as C.S. Lewis and Debrah Winger as Joy Gresham. (It also stars Edward Hardwicke as Lewis’ brother Warnie; Hardwicke played Dr. Watson to Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes.)

Although it’s a well made movie, at some point I stopped believing that Hopkins was Lewis. His eyes look too shifty, and he did not seem able to portray sincerity and honesty. Also, after reading Kathryn Lindskoog‘s account of her meeting C.S. Lewis, I wonder if in fact he was the shy, difficult-to-reach character that the playwright William Nicholson portrayed him as.

Update: I’ve now seen the whole movie, and I take back what I said about Hopkins looking shifty. It was clearly a device Hopkins used to show a growth or change in the character. The Debrah Winger character mentions it later: now he can look her in the eyes.

The movie does a good job of showing that Lewis’ Christian faith all but crumbled under the experience of watching his wife suffer excruciating pain and then dying after an apparent reprieve (the cancer inexplicably went into remission for a few months). We see Lewis lecturing on pain a couple of times before his marriage. The effect is to make Lewis sound like an intellectual who had not really experienced pain. However, I wonder if that is true: he had, after all, been a soldier in World War I and injured.

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One thought on “Shadowlands”

  1. I have enjoyed reading the blog entries updated one after another. As to Shadowlands, it is the film I wanted to see. Knowing it unavailable at a rental video shop nearby, I’ve turned to a book, Shadowlands: A True Story of C.S.Lewis and Joy Davidman. Most of the book is quotes from various publications of C.S.Lewis, W.H.Lewis (older brother of C.S.Lewis), Joy Davidman, and talks or writings of those who have known them well, so it’s like reading a brief biography. The story starts right after the funeral service of Joy: Jack is full of despair, pain and doubts. Before their first encounter, many pages describe what made up each of them from their childhood, and then the same story with the film would unfold although the book is not a transcript of the film. I’m still less than halfway through the book. Reading is a nice way to spend a quiet rainy day.

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