directed by Ken Russell
UK 1989


In this prequel to WOMEN IN LOVE (filmed by Ken Russell in 1969), Ursula Brangwen (Sammi Davis playing the character Jennie Linden played in the first film) wants something more out of life than her gender and middle-class country existence have carved out for her. Her stern mother Anna (Glenda Jackson playing the mother of her character in WOMEN IN LOVE) and her good-natured father Will (Christopher Gable, THE BOYFRIEND) do not understand why she wants to work when they have worked so hard to give their children a privileged existence (in the opening sequence with Ursula as a toddler, her father saves her from drowning in the river while she is chasing a rainbow). In the story proper, Ursula finds a role model in independent school teacher Winifred Inger (Amanda Donohue, CASTAWAY) with modern views on love and sex. Ursula then feels betrayed when Winifred then marries her lusty (and wealthy) Uncle Henry (David Hemmings). Ursula herself falls in love with Anton (Paul McGann, who then co-starred with Donohue in PAPER MASK), a young soldier who seems to approve of Ursula's ambitions. They have an idyllic sexual relationship until Anton goes off to do his national service. During this time, Ursula moves to London to become a schoolteacher and discovers how hard life is for an independent woman (she is unappreciated by her students and sexually harassed by her male employer). When Ursula returns home and discovers that Anton has settled for a more conventional marriage, she is down but not out and is last seen with her bags packed running into the horizon chasing another rainbow.

Made as part of a four picture deal with Vestron Pictures following the success of the outrageous New World Pictures production CRIMES OF PASSION (which also included the Shelly-Byron "Haunted Summer" tale GOTHIC, the tongue-in-cheek Bram Stoker adaptation LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, and the reflexive adaptation of Oscar Wilde's SALOME'S LAST DANCE), THE RAINBOW is the most traditional of the films (even more so than Russell's adaptation of WOMEN IN LOVE) but it is by no means a lesser film. Although reduced in scale and budget from WOMEN IN LOVE, THE RAINBOW is sumptuously photographed by Billy Williams (who also shot WOMEN IN LOVE and likewise chooses depth over scope in the framing) and sentimentally scored by Carl Davis (ably replacing the earlier film's Georges Delerue) and hits the right emotional notes throughout. The film shares several common crew and cast members with the other three Vestron films (Donahue and Davis co-starred in LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM which also featured a brief appearance by Gable once again as Davis' father). Russell seems to have learned from his experiences with the MPAA on CRIMES OF PASSION and kept the sex scenes above the waist and relegated the nudity to before and after (including a dream sequence with Davis, Donohue, and McGann streaking through an Eden-like landscape). The ending is a tad abrupt(as it is in the novel) but since this is a prequel (to both book and film) I suppose both Lawrence and Russell are pre-supposing familiarity with WOMEN IN LOVE.

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 26 May 1989 (USA)

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DVD Review: LionsGate - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:46:04 (4% PAL speedup)

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.74 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo)
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: LionsGate

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical Trailer (1:50)
• Talent Profiles

DVD Release Date: Sep 24th, 2007

Chapters 20



Although screened theatrically, the disc transfer for this DVD is presented open-matte and looks pleasing; it was likely filmed with eventual home video releasing in mind given Vestron's origins (the master was probably struck around the same time as the other digital masters for the other Vestron titles in the nineties when they were owned by Artisan Entertainment). The main titles are slightly matted to 1.38:1, however. The 2.0 stereo mix is more enveloping than directional (with the exception of certain sequences like Ursula's encounter with some wild horses in a misty wood where the and some parts of Carl Davis' score). THE RAINBOW was the only one of Ken Russell's late eighties Vestron Pictures titles to not have a US DVD release.


 LionsGate UK's PAL Region 2 release is actually the second UK DVD release of the film which was previously released when the UK rights belonged to Columbia/Tri-Star. The only extras are the familiar Vestron Pictures' theatrical trailer (which emphasizes the "chick flick" elements over the literary ones) and text-based talent profiles. The static menu designs are not particularly attractive. Since Russell provided audio commentaries for WOMEN IN LOVE, LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM and SALOME'S LAST DANCE, it is unfortunate he was not asked to do so for this film (or GOTHIC for that matter).

 - Eric Cotenas


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