Sunday, 8 November 2020

Lost Hearts

M.R. James - Lost Hearts - A Ghost Story for Christmas
From the story by M.R. James published in his 'Ghost Stories of an Antiquary' (UK / US) in 1895 this adaptation by Lawrence Gordon Clark for the BBC's 'A Ghost Story for Christmas' strand was screened on December 25th 1973.

Orphan Stephen Elliott (Simon Gipps-Kent) is sent to live in the grand and secluded home of his much older cousin, Mr. Abney (Joseph O'Conor), where he is haunted by visions of two ghostly children (Michelle Foster & Christopher Davies) with gaping holes in their chests where their hearts have been removed.

M.R. James - Lost Hearts - A Ghost Story for Christmas
It's a simple tale and a wonderfully effective one. Making good use of the short runtime Clark doesn't rush the story allowing it to gently unfold.  We have time to learn about each of the characters both living and dead and to experience Abney's giddy excitement at being so close to the fulfillment of his dream in a fantastic performance from O'Conor who could so easily have turned Abney into a pantomime villain.  Gipps-Kent gives fairly solid performance, as do James Mellor and Susan Richards as the houseservants  but we are treated to some mildly painful over-acting from the two ghosts.

Despite it's simplicity 'Lost Hearts' remains both one of my favourite James stories and one of my favourite of the adaptations and the scene of the two children dancing off into the distance having achieved their revenge makes me smile every time.

Buy it here - UKUS - or watch it below.


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