Bullet Points: The Rainbow
Romance and action are two genres that generally don’t mix together at BPA, but boy do I have a treat for you. The Rainbow is exactly the type romance action movie you are probably not used to watching. It is an adaptation of a D.H. Lawrence novel of the same name and while Mr. Lawrence is one of the greats, he died in 1930 which is probably before most of you were born. To be honest, the only reason I watched The Rainbow was because I wanted to see Sammy Davis Jr. in an action movie. I checked out the internet’s leading database on movies, the Internet Movie Database, and sure enough The Rainbow is listed as an action drama romance. However, I soon found out that the star is Sammi Davis and that Sammi is a she. I next found out that IMDb.com is really generous in their definition of action. I was never so happy to learn these new things after watching Ken Russell’s brilliantly directed film. The Rainbow might be light on action, but if you like a good coming of age story mixed with a period piece you too may be surprised so join me on a journey over to The Rainbow.
- Our hero is who, you demand! Ursula Brangwen (Sammi Davis) is a young girl that lives in the English countryside with her family. A religious but loving father (Christopher Gable), a no-nonsense but loving mother (Glenda Jackson) and younger siblings round out the Brangwen clan. The Rainbow shows Ursula growing from a young toddler all the way through her adulthood. The audience is treated to every part of her life that impacts her views and choices. Especially those of the romantic kind.
- You need to give us more plot points, you demand! Ursula grows up in what can be compared to a middle class family. However, her Uncle Henry (David Hemmings) is extremely wealthy and supports the family. Henry has gained his wealth from owning a colliery, a fact that Ursula is not happy with because of the poor working conditions. She wants to work for her money and becomes a teacher, which is not everything that she thought it would be. Her philosophical, romantic and professional realities are different than her dreams, but that doesn’t stop Ursula from trying to find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
- Get to the action already, you demand! I mentioned that The Rainbow is light on action but it is not devoid of action. There are not any great action set pieces, but naturally occurring action scenes as we follow along with Ursula. In school, we get to see Ursula practice fencing and other swordplay. While the screen time may be brief, it has more action swordplay than Ring of Steel. We are treated to people being run off the road by cars, which is impressive because the film is set at the tail end of England’s Victorian Era. Animal lovers look away as we see a man kill a rabbit by slapping it death. Ursula attacks a garden full of lettuce heads, stomping and grunting and basically going bat-shit crazy on the produce. Ursula is chased down and almost trampled by stampeding horses. And if fights are more your cup of tea, we get to see Ursula in a fight which she ends up winning after beating the victim with a cane. Did I mention that the victim was a boy in class that Ursula was teaching?
- Back to the romance, you demand! Romance plays an important role in the life of Ursula. I have not read the source material that the movie was based on, but after seeing The Rainbow I am very intrigued, and dare I say ‘excited’ to find a copy of D.H. Lawrence’s novel. As student in school, Ursula has a lesbian relationship with her athletics teacher Winifred Inger (Amanda Donohoe of Hooded Angels fame.) Uncle Henry introduces her to Anton Skrebensky (Paul McGann) a soldier in the British Army and the pair quickly form a relationship that extends throughout the film. To complicate matters, Winifred and Henry end up getting married. Ursula has strong opinions that affect her relationships but it does not stop her settling for something she doesn’t want.
- I need to know if I should watch The Rainbow, you demand! I must tell you that The Rainbow is not the movie you want to go to when looking for mindless action. However, It is also not a movie that you need to be fully invested in to understand. The Rainbow is a different sort of action film that really focuses on the coming of age of an innocent young girl to confident woman and the audience is treated to this growth and plenty of action scenes peppered along the ride. Give it a chance and you will see action, romance, drama, and even some comedy while all in the beautiful setting of the English countryside.
Very well and good but get to the Bonus Bullet Points, you demand! Hold your horses. I am getting to the Bonus Bullet Points. I can’t tell a coming of age story without letting the Bullet Points come of age.
- The Rainbow wasn’t Ken Russell’s first foray into the works of D.H.Lawrence. Russell was nominated for an Academy Award for directing Women in Love. Even though the film Women in Love came first, it is actually a sequel to The Rainbow. Glenda Jackson won the Oscar for playing Gundrun Brangwen, sister of Ursula, in Women in Love and then played her mother in The Rainbow.
- If you ever wanted to see a naked man climb a mountain with two naked women running through the fields, The Rainbow is for you.
- The film begins and ends with Ursula running towards a rainbow which is also a good way for this review to end.