Lady Caroline Lamb 1972

director: Robert Bolt  



Great Britain, Italy

Alternative Titles

  • Peccato d'amore



A speeding horse signalling its rider's recklessness; a girl's hand scrawling a hasty acceptance on a marriage proposal; an anxious mother pouring out a sedative for her daughter's overstretched nerves: Lady Caroline Lamb, Robert Bolt's 1972 film and his first as director and screenwriter, starts off as it means to go on. It leans urgently across the page of early 19th. century history to sum up a temperament as well as a life story. Lady Caroline (Sarah Miles) represents Life intense and capitalised and lived at the nerve-ends. She tears theatrically into marriage with the rising young politician William Lamb (Jon Finch). then rushes ruinously into a public liaison with the poet Lord Byron (Richard Chamberlain). But the film is about the collision between two ways of life as well as three self-absorbed people. Caroline's romantic yearning for spontaneity - 'doing your own thing' a later age called it - clashes disastrously with the period's concern for good form and classical restraint. It looks wildly romantic - but pays meticulous attention to details such as the gentry's slovenly speech patterns, while Oswald Morris's photography is always purposeful as well as rich. The film's tone is actually anti-romantic. It censures the heroine while illustrating her madcap career, as she pursues Byron to a fancy-dress ball, or attempts suicide at the soirée of the Duke of Wellington (Laurence Olivier electrifying good).Sarah Miles, hoarsely neurotic but compulsively the centre of attention, totally involves us in a woman whose only means of self-expression was self-destruction. The most surprising performance is Richard Chamberlain's Byron, presented as a man of genius with a streak of cheapness, worshipped for his sex appeal as much as his verse - and enjoying it: an historically plausible link between poetry then and Pop now. John Mills, Margaret Leighton, Ralph Richardson and Pamela Brown fill their Court and society roles to perfection. This Lamb, in short, is prime cut. ALEXANDER WALKER

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Distributor EMI
Catalogue Number 20084
Release Series
Release Date 1979
Duration: 117m 24s
Printed Classification
Notes First release, carton
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