Emma Corrin says putting female pleasure at the centre of the latest adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover – the scandalous novel that led to a landmark obscenity trial in 1960 – was “exciting”, with the film asking questions that are still very relevant today.
The Crown star told Sky News: “It was exciting for this adaptation to have a female director because I don’t think that’s something that happened before.
“The way [director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre] wanted to centre female pleasure, I thought it was really cool.”
Set in the early 20th century, DH Lawrence’s last novel tells the story of an upper-class woman – Lady Chatterley – who embarks on an illicit affair with her gamekeeper when her husband is left paralysed after fighting in the First World War.
First published in 1929 in Italy, the first uncensored version of the book wasn’t published in the UK until 1960, and even then it was only after Penguin Books successfully defended it against charges of obscenity.
The novel sold out its first print run on the first day of publication, gaining worldwide notoriety due to its explicit nature.
But despite being written close to 100 years ago, Corrin says its themes are still pertinent.
“I think it asks a lot of questions about class, about sex, about pleasure, which are really cool to see on screen. And it still feels relevant to ask them today.”
French director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre told Sky News the movie used an intimacy coordinator on set, due to the explicit nature of some of the content.
She told Sky News: “We spent two weeks rehearsing prior to the shoot every day to create a safe environment for all of us,” adding “we were all really scared”.
She also says that making a movie with so much sex in it “was a challenge, because sexual intercourse can be really boring on-screen”.
However, with the help of intimacy coordinator and movement director Ita O’Brien – who has a background in dance – Clermont-Tonnerre says they used “choreography” to “say something about the emotional growth” of each scene and avoid anything “gratuitous or redundant”.
The filmmaker also says the book was well ahead of its time.
“DH Lawrence was the first writer to address female sexual pleasure. And I think this is always important to glorify the body of a woman and what he really wanted to say was that sexuality is pure and beautiful and nothing shameful and dirty,” she said.
“That was scandalous at the time. And so it was banned for those reasons, because no one was really ready to accept pleasure. And I think that it’s still an important reminder today. We still are crossing troubled times, especially for women.”
While we’re no longer scandalized by sex between the classes, Clermont-Tonnerre says the liberating message of the book still holds true today.
“What some cultures and some people can still be shocked about is the liberation of female sexual pleasure, the acceptance of your body as being glorified, pure and beautiful… that message is very timely,” she said.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which also stars Jack O’Connell, Joely Richardson and Matthew Duckett, is in select cinemas now and will be streaming on Netflix from Friday 2 December.