The French Lieutenant's Woman

Synopsis: A film is being made of a story, set in 19th century England, about Charles, a biologist who's engaged to be married, but who falls in love with outcast Sarah, whose melancholy makes her leave him after a short, but passionate affair. Anna and Mike, who play the characters of Sarah and Charles, go, during the shooting of the film, through a relationship that runs parallel to that of their characters.
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): Karel Reisz
Production: MGM Home Entertainment
  Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 15 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
124 min


(director through loud-hailer)

OK. Are you ready, Anna?

OK. First positions, everybody.

(man) 32 take 2.

(director) And action.

And track.

(church bells ringing)




Sam! Get the carriage ready.

- We're going to Miss Ernestina's.

- At the double, sir.

(maid) Madam!

Madam, come quick!

Madam, it's Mr Charles.

- Good morning.

- Good morning, sir.

Will you please tell your mistress

I'm here to see her?

- Charles! Goodness, you are up early.

- Good morning, Mrs Tranter.

- A beautiful morning.

- It is indeed. Come in, do, please.

Is, er, Ernestina awake?

- Er, Mary, is my niece awake?

- She is, ma'am.

- Well, tell her Mr Charles is here.

- Yes, ma'am.

Might it be possible

for me to see Ernestina?

- Alone?

- But of course, of course.

- Thank you.

- Miss!

Miss! Mr Charles

is here, Miss, to see you.

- Mr Charles?

- He's down below, Miss, waitin' for you.

He wants to speak to you.

- What shall I... What dress shall I wear?

- Oh, your pink. It's so lovely, Miss.

- You look pretty as a picture in your pink.

- Yes... Yes, my pink. I'll wear that.

The conservatory is a private place.

Will that suit?

It will suit. Thank you.

I shall wait for her... in the conservatory.

I always thought you from London

spent half the day in bed.

No, ma'am. Up and about.

We're always up and about.

Early birds ready to catch

your early worm, ma'am, us Londoners.

She's comin'!



- She's gone into him.

- Doesn't she look a princess?

Ernestina, it cannot have escaped

your notice that it is fully six weeks...

...since I came down here

to Lyme from London.

No, it has not escaped my notice.

I came to Lyme to explore the flint beds

of the Undercliff to look for fossils...

...but I have stayed for you.

- Ah.

- For your sweet company.

Thank you.

- She's not going to turn him down?

- Never. She'd give her left arm.

I came to inquire whether you would

allow me to ask your father for your hand.

Yes, I would allow it.

Mind you, I don't know

that he approves of me.

I don't do what he considers to be work.

Are you suggesting that it is

entirely Papa's decision?

- No. It is yours.

- Yes, it is.

Papa will do what I want.

And I will do what I want.

Well, in that case, might you take pity...

...on a crusty old scientist,

who holds you very dear...

...and marry me?

Oh, Charles!

I've waited so long for this moment!

He's home and dry.

This isn't mistletoe,

but it will do, will it not?

Oh, Charles.

(phone rings)


Who is it?

Yes, it is.

I'll tell her.


You're late.

Make-up's waiting for you.

Oh, God!

- What happened to the wake-up call?

- I don't know.

- Who called?

- Jack.

- Did you answer the phone?

- Mm-hm.

Well, then... they know.

- They know that you're in my room.

- Mm.

In your bed. I want them to know.

Christ, look at the time.

They'll fire me for immorality.

They'll think I'm a whore.

You are.


Chilly morning.


Miss Woodruff! You know

you cannot stay here any longer.

Miss Duff has made

no provision for you in her will.

The cottage is to be sold.

How much money do you possess?

Miss Woodruff, I think I know

someone who might take you in.

Mrs Poulteney from the Grange.

Does her house overlook the sea?

Yes, it does, yes.

Then... I would be grateful

for your help, sir.

- Mr Smithson to see Mr Freeman.

- You are expected, sir.

You may be a gentlemen

of leisure, Smithson...

...but you are certainly punctual.

Good morning, Mr Freeman.


We could have met

at my office in the City...

...but I thought you'd be

interested to see this place.

- Indeed I am.

- Mind.

Of course, in a few months we shall be

opening depots in Bristol and Liverpool.

I see.

That's the May Queen,

in this morning for a carpenter.

Yes, indeed. I recognise, er, Charles...

...that you bring to Ernestina

not only love and protection...

...but also in time

a considerable inheritance.

That is so.


Well, I know my daughter loves you.

You seem to me an upright man.

Let us shake hands.

I started here, Charles,

with my dear wife at my side.

- You know I have no son.

- I do, sir, yes.

Well, if you ever felt disposed

to explore the world of commerce...

...I would be delighted to be your guide.

Thank you.

Oh, yes, he was very respectful

of what he called... position

as a scientist and a gentleman.

In fact, he asked me about my work.

But as I didn't think that

fossils were quite in his line...

...I gave him a brief discourse

on the theory of evolution instead.

- How wicked of you!

- Yes, he didn't think very much of it.

In fact... he ventured the opinion...

...that Mr Darwin should be exhibited

in a cage in the zoological gardens.

In the monkey house.

I'll lead the way.

Shall we return?

The wind is getting very strong.

I thought you might welcome a reason

to hold my hand without impropriety.

Very well.

Good Lord! What on earth is she doing?

- Oh. It's poor "Tragedy".

- "Tragedy"?

The fishermen have

a grosser name for her.


They call her

"the French lieutenant's... woman".

Do they?

- Please come.

- I must speak to her.

- She could fall.

- She won't thank you. She's mad.

It's dangerous. Will you stay there?





Madam, forgive me. I'm alarmed

for your safety. Come back!


Tell me, who is this... French lieutenant?

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Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter (; 10 October 1930 – 24 December 2008) was a Nobel Prize-winning British playwright, screenwriter, director and actor. One of the most influential modern British dramatists, his writing career spanned more than 50 years. His best-known plays include The Birthday Party (1957), The Homecoming (1964), and Betrayal (1978), each of which he adapted for the screen. His screenplay adaptations of others' works include The Servant (1963), The Go-Between (1971), The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), The Trial (1993), and Sleuth (2007). He also directed or acted in radio, stage, television, and film productions of his own and others' works. Pinter was born and raised in Hackney, east London, and educated at Hackney Downs School. He was a sprinter and a keen cricket player, acting in school plays and writing poetry. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art but did not complete the course. He was fined for refusing National service as a conscientious objector. Subsequently, he continued training at the Central School of Speech and Drama and worked in repertory theatre in Ireland and England. In 1956 he married actress Vivien Merchant and had a son, Daniel, born in 1958. He left Merchant in 1975 and married author Lady Antonia Fraser in 1980. Pinter's career as a playwright began with a production of The Room in 1957. His second play, The Birthday Party, closed after eight performances, but was enthusiastically reviewed by critic Harold Hobson. His early works were described by critics as "comedy of menace". Later plays such as No Man's Land (1975) and Betrayal (1978) became known as "memory plays". He appeared as an actor in productions of his own work on radio and film. He also undertook a number of roles in works by other writers. He directed nearly 50 productions for stage, theatre and screen. Pinter received over 50 awards, prizes, and other honours, including the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005 and the French Légion d'honneur in 2007. Despite frail health after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in December 2001, Pinter continued to act on stage and screen, last performing the title role of Samuel Beckett's one-act monologue Krapp's Last Tape, for the 50th anniversary season of the Royal Court Theatre, in October 2006. He died from liver cancer on 24 December 2008. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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