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Shadowlands (1993), starring Anthony Hopkins, Debra Winger, Joseph Mazzello, directed by Richard Attenborough

Synopsis of Shadowlands

Shadowlands: This lavishly mounted adaptation of the play by William Nicholson tells the true story of the doomed love affair between novelist and noted Christian scholar C.S. Lewis and a Jewish-American poet. Anthony Hopkins stars as C.S. ‘Jack’ Lewis, an Oxford professor and successful author of the Chronicles of Narnia series of children’s fantasy novels. A confirmed bachelor, Jack’s existence is an inward life of the mind. Somewhat detached from the world, his only social outlet is evenings out at a local pub discussing philosophy and religion with his fellow lecturers. Jack has been corresponding with a bluntly intelligent American woman, Joy Gresham (Debra Winger), who arrives to visit him, with her young son Douglas (Joseph Mazzello) in tow.

She tells Jack that she has actually fled from an abusive marriage and plans to divorce, and Jack astonishes friends and family by agreeing to a platonic marriage with Joy so that she can obtain British citizenship. As their friendship deepens and Joy discovers that she has a terminal illness, the relationship between Joy and Jack becomes a genuine romance, and their marriage turns into a real commitment

Editorial review of Shadowlands courtesy of Amazon.com

Shadowlands (1993), starring Anthony Hopkins, Debra Winger, Joseph Mazzello, directed by Richard AttenboroughThis emotionally moving romantic drama was adapted by William Nicholson from his own acclaimed play, based upon the real-life romance (during the 1950s) between the British writer C.S. Lewis and a divorced American poet named Joy Gresham. Best known for writing The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) is living comfortably as a respected Oxford don, his academic lifestyle a kind of shell protecting him from the emotional risk of love. Joy Gresham (Debra Winger) arrives at Oxford as an avid admirer of Lewis’s writing, and the safety of his collegiate routine is quickly disrupted when Lewis realizes that he’s fallen deeply and unexpectedly in love.

Their courtship is uniquely engaging; he’s shy and uncertain, she’s outspoken and bold. But when Joy is diagnosed with cancer, Lewis’s Christian faith is put to the test–he cannot fathom why their happiness together would be so drastically challenged. Together, they find a way to accept and honor the time they have shared together, and under the sensitive direction of Richard Attenborough, Shadowlands arrives at a conclusion that is both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Hopkins and Winger are equally superb in this absorbing story of personal and spiritual transformation–a story previously filmed for British television in 1985, with Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom. –Jeff Shannon