'Shadowlands' is the title of Richard Attenborough's beautiful film starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. It's based on the true story of how the famous writer and Oxford University professor, C. S. Lewis, falls in love without really knowing it, or initially wanting to admit it, with an American writer, Joy Davidman, who, with her young son, wish to reside in the UK.
When Joy is eventually diagnosed as having terminal cancer, C. S. Lewis then realises how much he loves her. His love for her engenders the moral boost that gives her a lease of a few months more of life, in the most poetical way, for Joy Davidman has been in love with C. S. Lewis perhaps from their very first meeting.
The romantic beauty of the film is determined by its sensitivity, the truth of how the power of love often creates relative miracles, and of course, the magnificent Oxfordshire countryside. The performances of Anthony Hopkins, Debra Winger and Joseph Mazzello, the little boy who plays her son Douglas, are wonderfully sensitive. All the supporting actors' performances are splendid.
It was produced in 1993, but like all fine works, the poetry lives on in the most moving way.
From experience one can be most aware of the truth that emanates from this film, and how time is relative.
When we are young, a day seems endless. I remember the perfume and the hiss of the grass on special summer days. The smell of the seaweed, the salt and sand on sea-swept beaches, the tar on the stones and the brick-red sandy cliffs. Those sights, sounds and scents still seem more vivid than any other similar recollections since, even though with time we develop far more discernment and become more aware of our environment.
As we grow older the days fly past and we tend to lose track of time. But love seems to defeat time in the same way as time has no hold on art.
The last scene of the film seems to illustrate this thought gloriously.
C. S. Lewis is striding contentedly along the path in the valley of the breathtaking English countryside. Then, coming into view from the foreground we see young Douglas gaily running down the hill to join him, followed by an apparently new member of the family, an equally happy young dog.
Naturally it's always heartbreaking to lose a loved-one, but however short, the time spent with that person is still a lifetime, precious and unforgettable.
Texte and image © Mirino. Title from the film, with thanks. August, 2015