Sons & Lovers (2003)

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Released 1-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Animation
Biographies-Crew-D.H. Lawrence Biography & Bibliography
Production Notes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 191:20 (Case: 193)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Stephen Whittaker

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Sarah Lancashire
Hugo Speer
James Murray
Rupert Evans
Esther Hall
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music Colin Towns

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Adapted from one of the most acclaimed novels of the twentieth century, Sons & Lovers is an absorbing two-part British television production, released on a slightly disappointing DVD.

    Sons & Lovers (1913) is probably the most celebrated of D.H. Lawrence's works. While he is probably better known for the controversial romp, Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928), I feel that Sons & Lovers is his most intensely personal work. Indeed, the novel appears to be semi-autobiographical, and as such, awfully honest.

    David Herbert Lawrence was born into poverty in Nottinghamshire, in central England. He was the fourth child of a hard-drinking coal miner and a long-suffering school-teacher mother. Lawrence's childhood was an unhappy one, and he later wrote in a letter to a friend, "I was born hating my father: as early as ever I can remember, I shivered with horror when he touched me." Lawrence worked as a clerk in a surgical appliance factory. In his spare time he indulged in expressionistic painting, and doted on his loving mother. His mother died in 1910 after a severe illness, and Lawrence helped her die by giving her an overdose of sleeping medicine. All these events, and others from his life, became elements of the novel Sons & Lovers.

    The novel (and series) covers the time period from 1885 to the start of World War I. Set in Lawrence's coal mining town of Nottinghamshire, Gertrude (Sarah Lancashire), meets and marries a poor coal miner, Walter (Hugo Speer). Gertrude later finds that the man she's married is a bully, hopelessly in debt, and a terrible drunk. In her miserable life, her only pleasure becomes her three children, especially her two sons, William (James Murray), and Paul (Rupert Evans). Unhappy with her husband, Gertrude finds conversation and companionship with her two sons. Inadvertently, this leaves them both, especially Paul, emotionally crippled. As an adult, Paul is incapable of having a normal relationship with the women that he meets, as his bond with his mother is so strong, and he compares all women to her.

    The plot expertly teases out the emotional bond between mothers and sons, and how that relationship can colour that of the son's later relationships with their sexual partners. Never simplistic, the novel and series never paints either humans or their complex inter-relationships as being black and white, but rather as a multitude of shades of grey. Screenwriter Simon Burke has provided a brilliant screen adaptation of a difficult novel, and the script is complemented by the fine acting, direction, and cinematography. Costing four million pounds, and two years in the making, the attention to detail in this production is startling, and the production quality is superb.

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Transfer Quality


    The grainy, widescreen transfer suffers from the appearance of being overly (or badly) compressed onto the disc.

    Again, a Digital Television broadcast has provided us with a widescreen image, and the transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness ranges from okay to poor. The shadow detail is acceptable, but lacking in the dark scenes, such as at 2:30.

    The colour reflects the bleakness and drudgery of the environment, and the skin tones are accurate.

    MPEG artefacts appear throughout, and an example of severe macro-blocking can be seen on the grassy scene at 78:84. Film-to-video artefacts are present in the form of mild aliasing, such as the shimmer on the clothes line at 10:45. Small film artefacts appear throughout, but they are not distracting.

   There are no subtitles present on the disc.

    This is an RSDL disc, and I assume that the layer change is placed between the two episodes.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Originally produced for British television, there is only one audio option, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are fine.

    The musical score is credited to well-known British television composer Colin (Cadfael) Towns, and it is very suitable for a period drama.

    With stereo audio, there is no surround presence nor LFE activity, which is acceptable for a dialogue-based television production.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are a few text-based extras.


    On offer is a silent animated menu, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Note that the menu's Play All option only plays Episode One, and that Episode Two can only be accessed through Scene Selection.

D.H. Lawrence Biography

    Short text-based information about Lawrence.

Lawrence Bibliography

    A text-based bibliography.

Production Notes

    More text-based information. Again far too short, with very little information.

Cast Filmographies

    More text, listing the screen credits of the principal cast members.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Sons & Lovers does not appear to have been released on DVD in Region 1.


    If you're looking for a very thoughtful and adult look at relationships and family dynamics, I thoroughly recommend Sons & Lovers, both as a novel and as this production on DVD.

    The video quality is slightly disappointing but still very watchable.

    The audio quality is acceptable albeit quite limited.

    The extras are slim.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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