Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Shadowlands (1993)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Shadowlands (1993, UK)

In director Richard Attenborough's lavish romantic biopic and tearjerker - Lewis chronicled his own reactions to Joy's premature death in 1960 in his book A Grief Observed (1961) - the inspiration for the film:

  • the unlikely romance between C. S. "Jack" Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) and Jewish-American poet Joy Gresham (Debra Winger) - including Joy's gauche first appearance in a British tea room: ("Anybody here called Lewis?")
  • realizing she didn't have much time to live, with death imminent from advanced cancer (of the bone), Lewis proposed to Joy (and shortly later married her) in her London hospital room: "Will you marry this foolish, frightened old man, who needs you more than he can bear to say, who loves you even though he hardly knows how?"
  • the scene of Jack realizing that he was truly in love with Joy during their first marriage of convenience after learning of her terminal bone cancer: ("It's impossible. It's unthinkable. How could Joy be my wife? I'd have to love her, wouldn't I? I'd have to care more for her...than anyone else in this world. I'd have to be suffering the torments of the damned. The prospect of losing her...")
  • the scene in which Jack remarried Joy, this time for love
  • Joy's instructing Lewis on preparations for sex
  • the scene of Lewis ordering room service
  • and then, remarkably, Joy went into remission ("could be months, could be weeks") but the cancer was still very advanced and she would not live for another year. She was removed from the London hospital and taken to Lewis' home in Oxford. They had their "honeymoon" during her cancer's remission. They experienced some very happy moments together, but then the pain and cancer returned
  • after a kiss, and then after a period of sleep, she admitted she was tired and about to die: ("I just don't wanna leave you...Too much pain...You have to let me go...I've loved you so") - and then just before she died, he told her: "I love you, Joy. I love you so much. You made me so happy. I didn't know I could be so happy. You're the truest person I have ever known...Sweet Jesus. Be with my beloved wife, Joy. Forgive me if I love her too much. Have mercy on us both."
  • the scene of Joy's quiet death in bed with Jack offering assurance: ("Don't talk, my love. Just rest...just rest" - and after a kiss just before she died: "I love you, Joy. I love you so much. You made me so happy. I didn't know I could be so happy. You're the truest person I have ever known...")
Joy's Quiet Deathbed Scene: "You have to let me go"
  • the scene of her young Narnia-loving son Douglas (Joseph Mazzello) suddenly waking up in bed, gasping with eyes wide as if knowing the very moment of her death
  • Jack's scene of sharing tortured grief and uncontrollable weeping with Douglas in an attic following her death:

    Lewis: When my mother died, I was your age. I thought that if I prayed for her to get better, and if I really believed she'd get better, then she wouldn't die. But she did.
    Douglas: It doesn't work.
    Lewis: No, it doesn't work.
    Douglas: I don't care.
    Lewis: I loved your mother very much. Perhaps I loved her too much. She knew that. She said to me, 'Is it worth it?' 'cause she knew what it would be like later. Doesn't seem fair, does it?
    Douglas: I don't see why she had to get sick.
    Lewis: No, nor me. But, uh, you can't hold onto things, Douglas. You have to let them go.
    Douglas: Jack...Do you believe in heaven?
    Lewis: Yes, I do.
    Douglas: I don't believe in heaven.
    Lewis: That's okay.
    Douglas: I would like to see her again.
    Lewis (sobbing): Me too.
  • at Joy's service, the minister intoned: "We therefore commit the body of thy servant, Joy to the elements: Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust." Lewis was told: "Thank God for your faith, Jack. Only faith makes sense of times like this. I know."
  • following Joy's death, Lewis was in shock, but remained stoic and resigned to her death, although he was confused about the brutal fact of human suffering and death: "I can't see her anymore. I can't remember her face... I'm so afraid of never seeing her again. Of thinking that suffering is just suffering after all. No cause. No purpose. No pattern...There's nothing to say. I know that now. I've just come up against a bit of experience, Warnie. Experience is a brutal teacher. But you learn. My God, you learn."
  • he even questioned his own faith and God: "Just don't tell me it's all for the best, that's all...God knows, but does God care?... We're the creatures, aren't we? We're the rats in the cosmic laboratory. I've no doubt the experiment is for our own good, but, uh, it still makes God the vivisectionist, doesn't it?...It won't do. It's this bloody awful mess, and that's all there is to it."

Joy: "Anybody here called Lewis?"

Joy's Advanced Cancer Diagnosed

Getting Married in the Hospital

Jack and Joy's Young Son Douglas (Joseph Mazzello) Sharing Grief


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