Miss Pym and a Friend

Miss Pym and a Friend

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill and the Hammer Film

I finally got my copy of this long awaited DVD. Since I read Hill's novel, I have thought of few other films, only Dark Shadows, which I saw Sunday. The book was chilling, more so because it is deceptively short and illustrated as though it were childrens literature. It isn't. The film was dark and decrepit, but more sad than scary. You have to feel the mother's grief; Jennet turns to bitterness and vengeance, and that is her sin. Even reuniting her with her child does not satisfy her. But, the plot is changed significantly in the film, with more characters, lost children, and plots. Eel March House is horribly inhospitable; no one in his/her right mind would stay there alone in the day, let alone at night. TWIB is more banshee than ghost; she is more like a bad camera trick than anything else. The opening scene of the three little girls moving from a dolls' teaparty to jumping from their attic bedroom window is the most frightening scene of the film. It does not exist in the book, which opens at Christmas with Arthur's second family. The dolls are creepy, and there are many of them. Besides the bluebird toy china, the three little girls have a rag doll, a penny wooden in a bed, a couple china heads that look old, and an anachronistic seventies porcelain doll, the kind made in taiwan or china. In the nursery in Eel Marsh House, there are real automatons with Jumeau heads, mechanical monkeys and tin clowns, perhaps a doll house [the cinematography is too dark to tell], and lots of Victorian cards, a toy boat, a mechanical rabbit and cat. There is another acrobatic clown and most play music. One mistake, in a letter not part of the novel, Jennet, in the film, is addressed as "Ms. Jennet Humphrey." Ms. was not used till the mid 1970s. It was not used, nor did it exist in 1889. I enjoyed the film, but it was very, very sad and depressing. The horror is in the mother's loss, and the fact that nothing can stop her grief, which destroys everyone.

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