The French Lieutenant's Woman (film)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The French Lieutenant's Woman is a 1981 film directed by Karel Reisz and adapted by playwright Harold Pinter. It is based on the novel of the same title by John Fowles. The music score is by Carl Davis and the cinematography by Freddie Francis.

The film stars Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons with Hilton McRae, Jean Faulds, Peter Vaughan, Colin Jeavons, Liz Smith, Patience Collier, Richard Griffiths, David Warner, Alun Armstrong, Penelope Wilton and Leo McKern.


The film interweaves two story lines: the book's original story of Sarah Woodruff and Charles Smithson set in Victorian England, and the story of the two actors who portray them, Anna and Mike, set in approximately 1980. Fowles wrote two endings for the book—one happy, one not. Rather than attempting to incorporate both endings in Charles and Sarah's story, Pinter added the storyline of the actors for the unhappy ending.

Charles Smithson, a Victorian palaeontologist, is engaged to a young society girl in Lyme Regis as the film opens. Sarah Woodruff is a woman dubbed "tragedy" or "the French Lieutenant's Whore" by the townspeople of Lyme Regis. Charles and Sarah have several encounters along the undercliff outside Lyme Regis, and eventually Charles learns Sarah's story and develops feelings for her. Anna—who is in relationship with David—and Mike, who is married with children, are in the midst of an affair that appears to have begun during the making of the film.

Charles and Sarah's relationship develops to consummation and his engagement and reputation are destroyed, while the actors struggle with the weight of their affair.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The French Lieutenant's Woman (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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