One of the best of late 20th century "Masterpiece Theater" style British movies on Victorian-Edwardian themes, Carrington (1995) is also one of the most beautiful love stories ever brought to the screen. It has the added virtue of being true. Directed by playwright and Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons) from his own screenplay which was in turn inspired by Michael Holroyd's massive, gripping biography of Lytton Strachey the film tells of the odd love affair between the fey Strachey (Jonathan Pryce), eventual author of the mocking bestseller Eminent Victorians, and the tomboyish painter Dora Carrington (Emma Thompson, in one of her most exquisite, bravest performances), who preferred to go by her last name only. Meeting through Vanessa Bell (herself involved in a very "modern" marriage), Carrington took an instant dislike to the fussy aspiring writer. But soon the boyish, awkward woman, who seems to have driven every man mad with desire for her, became herself obsessed with the one man she truly could not "have" completely. Though Strachey was gay, the Bloomsburyites slipped into an intense lifelong friendship and cohabitation based on mutual dependence. Their letters to each other while separated are among the most poignant in world literature. In one, Carrington wrote, "All these years I have known all along that my life with you was limited. Lytton, you are the only person who I have ever had an all-absorbing passion for." Lytton responded in kind. Hampton's script took a long time to reach the screen, some 18 years, and what he could afford to direct was a mere half of a text that is universally acclaimed by those who have read it as one of the great screenplays. Finally released in 1995, Carrington proved to be a film of a delicacy, sensitivity, and complexity that belied its long gestation as a "dream project." If nothing else the film counters common assumptions of sexual identity. The complex emotional entanglements between Strachey and Carrington, who eventually married a man (played by Steven Waddington) who was also fond of Strachey, are fully explored in the film. At the very least, Carrington is one of the most unpredictable love stories ever told. MGM Home Entertainment has done a fabulous job with this film. The anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) is vibrant, colorful, and artifact-free. Audio is a more than adequate Dolby 2.0 Surround (with closed-captions and English, French, and Spanish subtitles). Supplements include a brief 11-minute "making of" featurette, the theatrical trailer, and trailers for three other MGM titles. Keep-case.
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