“Priest of Love”
D.H. Lawrence and Frieda
Lawrence moved to America after his novel “The Rainbow” was banned in his home country, England and then he moved on to Mexico. He was unlucky and contracted tuberculosis and returned to England for a short period and ultimately to Italy where he recovered his artistic mute and wrote “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. The movie follows his rebellion against World War I and his relationship with Frieda, his wife. When released over 23 years ago this was a controversial film which today seems somewhat mild.
Lawrence owes his wife a great deal as his writing career did not really take off until he married Frieda. She was married and a mother went they met and he convinced her to leave her home and children to begin a new life with him. They married in 1914 and stayed together until Lawrence’s death in 1930 but their lives were full of turbulence. Yet even with that, Lawrence wrote and wrote and he dared to write about love
Christopher Miles directed this film and it is a stunner with an excellent cast. Ian McKellen as Lawrence is superb as he shows us the intensity of the author and we feel that he is Lawrence. The war against censorship is a major theme but it did not damped Lawrence’s creativity and he constantly produced. He traveled all over the world especially when the British censor, Herbert Muskett (John Gielgud) wages war against his writings. In New Mexico the Lawrences met Mabel Dodge Luhan (Ava Gardner) who was their hostess. Lawrence adored Frieda and even when the chance to be unfaithful came into being, he chose his wife. He was totally loyal to her.
Janet Suzman as Frieda shines and her emotions are wonderful. She urged him to write and stood with him all the way. This is not your usual love story but it is a portrait of DH Lawrence that we have not seen on the silver screen. For that alone, this is something to see but there are other reasons as well which I have incorporated into the body of my review.