Maud Ruthyn, a lovely and sensitive girl, is sent to stay with her Uncle Silas Ruthyn, a charismatic rogue who stands to inherit the family fortune... should anything untoward happen to ...
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Craig R. Baxley
Maud Ruthyn, a lovely and sensitive girl, is sent to stay with her Uncle Silas Ruthyn, a charismatic rogue who stands to inherit the family fortune... should anything untoward happen to young Maud. With the tyrannical Madame De La Rougierre as her governess, Maud finds that the estate holds terrors beyond her imaginings. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"The Dark Angel" is one of those rare films that perfectly captures the powerful moods of the novel that bore it. Director Peter Hammond has done a truly marvellous job of capturing the brooding suspense of Lefanu's "Uncle Silas." The complexity of the scenes and the symbolism, the backdrop of compelling sets and scenery, and the wonderful performances by the well chosen cast combine to make this a film that must be watched several times to be appreciated.
This movie is the archetype of Gothic Victoriana. Maud Ruthyn is a young heiress who has grown up cloistered by immense wealth and isolation. Her loving but distant father has instilled in her a sense of virtue and devotion to family. Upon his death, she is faced with the decision of living under the guardianship of her mysterious Uncle Silas, the recipient of her fortune should an accident befall her, and whose reputation as cad, reprobate, gaming man, and perhaps something more is well known. Now aged and ill, he has claimed to lead a blameless life of virtue and piety. Convinced that she must protect the family virtue by proving her faith (and her father's) in a man society has scorned, Maud comes to live at Silas' decaying mansion-- where a host of undesirable figures seem to be lurking around ever corner, and where Maud finds herself increasingly isolated and imprisoned. The web of her prison is spun so gently that she does not suspect it-- until it is too late to escape.
The movie is a feast for the eyes. The characters can be one-dimensional at times, but as such remain true to the novel. Peter O'Toole is the appropriate mix of charming and creepy, and Jane Lapotaire delivers a delightfully chilling performance as Maud's sadistic governess. The movie plays out as if a haunting Victorian psychological thriller is laid out on screen right before your eyes, and some might say that the film drags a bit. I think it is well worth it's length. The underlying plans of Uncle Silas, and how they play and replay as they lead up to the dramatic climax, are subtle enough to grip you without direct awareness. The novel's portrayal of desperation is great, and Maud's patriarchal entrapment-- what she feels she must do to obey, and what is demanded of her by society-- is subdued but powerful. This is truly great work of television drama.
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