Photographing Fairies (1997)

R  |   |  Drama, Fantasy, Mystery  |  19 September 1997 (UK)
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Photographer Charles Castle is numbed with grief following the death of his beautiful bride. He goes off to war, working in the trenches as a photographer. Following the war and still in ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Castle
Reverend Templeton
Beatrice Templeton
Roy (as Phil Davis)
Hannah Bould ...
Clara Templeton
Miriam Grant ...
Ana Templeton
Mrs. Anne-Marie Castle
Clive Merrison ...
Stephen Churchett ...
Mr. Dawson
Mrs. Dawson
Maggie Wells ...
Mrs. Hoopdriver
Fierce Woman
Jeremy Young ...


Photographer Charles Castle is numbed with grief following the death of his beautiful bride. He goes off to war, working in the trenches as a photographer. Following the war and still in grief Charles is given some photographs purporting to be of fairies. His search for the truth leads him to Burkinwell, a seemingly peaceful village seething with secrets where he becomes drawn into a web of passion, romance and violence.. Written by Philip Stanton

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Fantasy | Mystery

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality | See all certifications »




Release Date:

19 September 1997 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Der Elfengarten  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Edward Hardwicke, who plays Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, has played Conan Doyle's Dr. Watson many times. See more »


In the trial scene there are journalists taking photographs, this is illegal in UK courts of law. However, at the time the film is set, it was still permitted. See more »


Version of FairyTale: A True Story (1997) See more »


Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, II. Allegretto
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performed by The Philharmonia Orchestra
Conducted and orchestrated by Terry Davies
See more »

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User Reviews

Sprite delight.
7 April 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Photographing Fairies is directed by Nick Willing who co-adapts with Chris Harrald from the book of the same name written by Steve Szilagyi. It stars Toby Stephens, Emily Woof, Ben Kingsley, Frances Barber & Philip Davis. Music is scored by Simon Boswell and John DeBorman is the cinematographer. Plot finds Stephens as photographer Charles Castle, a level headed man who took delight in debunking the Cottingley Fairies pictures as being fake. However, this brings him into contact with the Templeton family and what appears to be an authentic looking image of a tiny fairy. It's the beginning of journey that will prove to be as magical as it is dangerous.

No! This is not the fairy film about the girls who faked the Cottingley Fairies pictures. Released the same year, that film was called Fairy Tale: A True Story, a very nice film in its own right, but this is a very different animal. Very much a unique film, Photographing Fairies has a number of words that frequently crop up when reading about, or discussing it. Weird, hypnotic, beautiful, tragic, odd, haunting, dreamy, surreal and poetic, any one of those can be used to describe Nick Willing's movie. Ultimately it's the word mystical that best sums it up, with the film weaving together intriguing premise's that in turn are played out with gorgeous visuals. Charles Castle's search for the truth is not merely that, himself in grief, as he searches for physical evidence, it leads him to something more, arguably something all encompassing and not worldly. The movie poses many questions as it explores the likes of paganism, animism and the role of hallucinogens in bringing to life a world beyond the physical one we all know. Refreshingly, we the audience are not fed the answers, and the film is all the better for it.

More known for his work on music videos, Nick Willing blasted out of the directing blocks with this as his debut big screen offering. That he hasn't gone on to far better things is a mystery given the first class work he does here. Some of the scenes here are remarkable, truly, and aided considerably by DeBorman's pin-sharp photography he's made a visually hypnotic interest story that's paced to precision. Simon Boswell provides a swirling romantic score, flecked with mystic tones and nicely entwined with Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, it's very tonally correct and worthy of re-visits on its own. The cast are on good form, with Kingsley doing creepy folk religious and Stephens a nice line in a man hurting within, showing cynical arrogance, yet opening up his layers the further he delves into the mystery. Come the finale, a tragic-beauty finale at that, the film has come full circle and it's credit to Stephens that he has been able to carry us along with him at all times. Emily Woof (Velvet Goldmine/The Full Monty) also shines bright in the difficult (spiritual) romantic role, while the child actors are thankfully adorable and never annoying.

A film to capture the imagination of those with an open mind or for those with a leaning to the mystical, Photographing Fairies is a little gem. 9/10

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