3 hankies for Through the Shadowlands

“There’s nothing like dying to show you you’re not in charge.”  (Joy Gresham, in Shadowlands)

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I rented Shadowlands, a film about C.S. Lewis.  I saw the original BBC Wales production – not the Anthony Hopkins-Debra Winger version.

I didn’t know C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, was married late in life to an American woman who, soon after, died of metastatic bone cancer.  This took place in the ’60’s, in the Stone Age of cancer.  In a scene where Lewis anxiously grills Joy’s oncologist about the arrest of her bone tumor by radiation, the oncologist replies, “It (cancer) is like a train.  You’re looking at a train in the station.  It may not be moving but that’s what trains dothey move!”
This film for tv was incredibly well-written.  Considering its slow, talking-heads television style, it was remarkably sensitive, beautiful, restrained.
After Joy Gresham’s death, Lewis published A Grief Observed, comprised of four notebooks detailing his grief and loss. Shadowlands is based on that work.  If the narration is any indication, I want to hole up in a comfy chair for a weekend and read all his works (other than Narnia).
Many memorable quotes.  Lewis was a devout Christian, and his loss made him doubt that god was loving and merciful as he’d preached on so many radio shows.  “What if we’re just rats in a laboratory for our own good…God as the vivisectionist…?”

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10 thoughts on “3 hankies for Through the Shadowlands

  1. I remember reading The Great Divorce years ago and being hit very deeply by Lewis' definition of hell. It wasn't a place that you went, it was a place inside yourself where you got lost and became very small.

  2. He really did have a way with words. In the film, he said, about losing his wife, "It's the worst pain in a world of pain", and that his "biggest fear is that I'll never see her again", so it was the genesis of doubt as to the existence of heaven as a gathering place. I'll have to read more of his work – he was so fascinating.

  3. I'm having trouble getting that version thru Netflix but am hopeful the library has it. I love Mr. Hopkins as well (esp. in 84 Charing Cross Road).

  4. Hey Caroline, for something completely escapist, see Avatar (if you haven't already). I'll do a movie list of what I've watched in the last month – maybe there will be other things there you'll be interested in. Cheers, I hope you're doing well 😉

  5. Try to see Avatar in IMAX or at the very least 3D for the full effect. Truthfully it would be a fantasy if we could get cured by hooking up to a tree and have everyone we know chant and pray while our bodies are healed!

  6. Oh, one of my favorite books when I was very young was "Surprised by Joy" about his early life. Great book though the title is just a coincidence (I do believe I read it, though, expecting it to be about his relationship with her).

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