Sunday, 3 February 2019

A View From A Hill

A View From A Hill - M.R. James - A Ghost Story For Christmas
Between 1971 and 1978 the BBC produced eight instalments of it's A Ghost Story For Christmas series predominantly based around the works of M.R. James.  More recently the series has been periodically revived (in 2005, 2006, 2010, 2013 and 2018) beginning with this adaptation of James' 'A View From A Hill'.

In fairly typical James style the story has at it's centre an obsessive academic, in this case the timid and rather fussy archaeologist Dr Fanshawe (Mark Letheren), who, arriving at the home of Squire Richards (Pip Torrens) to archive a collection of archaeological antiquities, makes use of an old pair of binoculars through which he sees far more than is at all healthy or wise.

A View From A Hill - M.R. James - A Ghost Story For Christmas
Peter Harness' sympathetic screenplay updates the Edwardian setting of the original story to the 1940s (more info on why here) which changes the dynamic of the relationship between the three principles (including David Burke as the butler Patten) putting them on a more equal footing with Richards having to adjust to reduced circumstances and the changing relationship with those around him as reflected in the slightly belligerent attitudes of the others to his now somewhat outdated manner.  This more deteriorated setting gives a darker shade to the programme pervading it with a deeper sense of reality and placing the residents of the house more securely in the heart of such a morose and 'haunted' landscape which makes for some truly engrossing and chilling viewing.

Buy it here - Ghost Stories from the BBC: A View From a Hill / Number 13 (DVD) - or watch it below.


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