The British Film Institute presents the best global cinema on-demand:
From classic and contemporary films to the best of the BFI National Archive.

The Rainbow

This film is certified

Please confirm that you accept our terms of use.


The Rainbow 1988 15

113 mins United Kingdom Director. Ken Russell

Ken Russell returns to the author of one of his greatest triumphs, D.H Lawrence, for a prequel to Women in Love that showcases the singular director’s flair for romantic flamboyance and erotic power. Ursula (Sammi Davis) finds herself falling for her swimming and gym teacher Winifred (Amanda Donahoe), and the two start a romance. However, she soon also has feelings for Anton (Paul McGann), a nearby student and soldier. At the heart of a tense love triangle, Ursula indulges in her passion while pondering what direction she wants to go in life – and whether that includes the prospect of love or not.

A direct prequel to Women in Love (Glenda Jackson, the star of that film, even plays her character’s mother in this one), yet also an entirely unique piece of work on its own, The Rainbow is a dreamy and sensual portrait of a woman at serious crossroads – making choices that bring her joy, but which also open up exciting new avenues.

Start watching in: 30 days

Finish watching in: 48 hours

Directed by

Ken Russell


Glenda Jackson

David Hemmings

Amanda Donohoe

Paul McGann

Sammi Davis










United Kingdom

Read lessRead more


View All

Welcome to a new subscription service like no other.

>100s of hand-picked classics and critically-acclaimed films

>Critic Mark Kermode picks a must-see film every week

>No contract, cancel anytime

Cookies Policy

This website uses cookies, as explained in our Cookies Policy.

To accept the terms and hide this message please click 'I accept'.

I accept

Passionate about film? So are we…

Don't miss the email made for the in-the-know film fan:

New releases — on the same day as in cinemas Special collections & unheralded classics Exclusive news on discounts

Never ask | Ask me later