Blu-ray: Women in Love

Starring Oliver Reed and Alan Bates, Ken Russell’s film explores how notions of commitment and love changed after the First World War

Famous for its nude wrestling scene between two characters played by Oliver Reed and Alan Bates, Women in Love is Ken Russell’s multiple award-winning adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s novel of the same name.

The film has been newly restored by the BFI National Archive and will be released on Blu-ray. It features interviews with the cast and crew, and commentary from Russell and the writer and producer Larry Kramer. It also includes a previously unreleased short film Second Best (1972), director Stephen Dartnell's adaptation of Lawrence’s short story, which was stars Alan Bates.

Women in Love explores how notions of commitment and love changed after the First World War. It follows two sisters (Glenda Jackson and Jennie Linden) and two friends (Bates and Reed) in the Midlands town of Beldover. As they form relationships with each other, conflicts arise and eventually lead to tragedy when sex and love become disconnected.

Born in Southampton, England in 1927, the director Ken Russell was one of Europe’s great auteurs and the UK’s most creative and flamboyant directors. His best known films are The Devils (1971), the Who’s musical Tommy, and Altered States (1980).

The writer David Herbert Richard Lawrence was born in Nottinghamshire in 1885. His novels, plays, essays and poems all centred around the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation. With 1920’s Women in Love, he looked at these effects on romantic relationships. At the time of his death in France in 1930, he was considered by the public as a pornographer who wasted his talents. Today, conversely, his fiction sits comfortably within the English literary cannon.