Not long after D.H. Lawrence’s super-steamy Lady Chatterley’s Lover was first published back in 1928, its many frank depictions of sex led a Republican US Senator at the time from Utah, Reed Smoot, to thunder that the book was “written by a man with a diseased mind and a soul so black that he would even obscure the darkness of hell.” And Smoot didn’t stop there, going on to predict that the book might even corrupt the morals of his colleagues in the Senate — the horror!
For anyone who hasn’t read the novel before — about a wealthy wife who falls hard for the gamekeeper on her family estate — you’ll get to see what all that fuss was about, come next week. On December 2, Netflix is set to debut a lavish adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover on the streamer, directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
The story is set in England shortly after the end of World War I, with a passionate love affair at its center that cuts across class lines.
It remains one of the most-talked-about books of the 20th Century and the first novel to explore the idea of female sexual pleasure so directly. Netflix’s adaptation is also the first feature-length movie version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in almost 20 years.
“Basically, I think everybody wants to find love,” producer Laurence Mark said about the movie in a Netflix interview. “And nobody knows where it’s going to come from. And I think forbidden love is also even more attractive in terms of literature and movies … finding somebody that you can’t have. Finding somebody that you’re destined to be with — it’s an ideal for everyone, isn’t it really?”
In terms of the story, Connie is set for a life of wealth and privilege upon marrying Clifford Chatterley, which affords her the title of Lady Chatterley. Everything is upended, however, when her husband returns from the war, so injured that he’s unable to walk. Connie becomes a caregiver of sorts for her husband and soon meets and falls in love with Oliver Mellors, the gamekeeper on the Chatterley family estate.
Secret trysts and a passionate sexual awakening ensue.
‘Old-fashioned love story’
The Netflix cast includes Emma Corrin as Lady Constance Chatterley, Jack O’Connell as Mellors, and Matthew Duckett as Lord Clifford Chatterley. One more note, by the way, about the angry push to censor the novel upon its release is worth adding here.
In 1959, US federal judge Frederick van Pelt Bryan delivered a ruling in the book’s favor that reads, in part: “At this stage in the development of our society, this major English novel does not exceed the outer limits of tolerance.”
Adds Mark: “A good, big, old-fashioned love story never goes out of style, I don’t think. People crave that connection. And they want to see people find each other, in the hope that they can do the same in their own lives.”
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