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French Lieutenant's Woman

Year: 1981
Director: Karel Reisz
Cast: Jeremy Irons , Meryl Streep, Leo McKern, Patience Collier, Peter Vaughan, Hilton McRae.
Set Locations:
Southern England: Shot on location in Lyme Regis in Dorset
Karl Reisz's 1981 film was based on a 1969 novel by John Fowles , which was itself inspired by the novel Ourika. The original story was written in 1823 by Claire de Duras and translated from the French by Fowles in 1977. The story was brought to life for the screen thanks to the wonderful screenplay from Harold Pinter .

Reisz's film stars Jeremy Irons as a Victorian gentleman who has an affair with a woman (played by Meryl Streep) who has been scandalised by a French Officer. The affair is very much disapproved of by the polite Victorian society of 19th century Lyme Regis. The novel is told from the perspective of the writer, looking at things through 20th century eyes. The author often addresses the reader and discusses the characters and their actions. The film creates a similar effect by telling the story from the viewpoint of a film being made in the 20th century, about the characters from the 19th century. The film shifts between the two centuries as the story unfolds, with Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep playing both the original 19th century characters Charles and Sarah, as well as the 20th century actors Mike and Anna.

Most of the story takes place in Lyme Regis, a coastal town in West Dorset, exactly midway between historic Dorchester and the University City of Exeter. Lyme Regis is nicknamed the 'Pearl of Dorset' and rose to become a major British port in the 13th century. The town's picturesque harbour, known as 'The Cobb', is a major feature in both the novel and in the film and is also featured in Jane Austen's novel 'Persuasion'. In the 19th century, the town declined as a port because it could not handle the larger ships now in use. From this time it changed and has become more of a resort than a port. It is now especially popular with dinosaur hunters as it is an important feature on the Jurassic Coast . Regular landslips on the coastal cliffs ensure bountiful trips for the many fossil hunters who visit the area every year.

Another location heavily used was London's Borough Market. This has recently become a very fashionable place to do food shopping due to its appearance in several films, as well as several mentions from top television chefs. It is open for retail customers from Thursday to Saturday inclusive.

Some scenes were also filmed in the Lake District , a popular tourist venue which inspired poets such as William Wordsworth and is still a popular hiking venue today.

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