The film is based on a purportedly true story, which has since become one of the most famous "time slips". The two ladies' real names were Annie Charlotte Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, who ... See full summary »







Cast overview, first billed only:
Miss Elizabeth Morison
Miss Frances Lamont
The Reverend Oliver Hodgson
Vivian Pickles ...
Dr. Hadley
John Franklyn-Robbins ...
Sir Patrick Corcoran
Antonia Pemberton ...
Ann Queensberry ...
College Secretary
Anna Korwin ...
Tom Durham ...
Running Man
Michael Quinto ...
Comte de Vandreuil
Corinna Marlowe ...
Singing Student
Biddy Massen ...
Claude Le Saché ...
Denis Marriott ...


The film is based on a purportedly true story, which has since become one of the most famous "time slips". The two ladies' real names were Annie Charlotte Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, who at the time occupied high teaching positions within Oxford University. The script is based on their book "An Adventure" (1911) which was published under assumed names. Written by BlueGreen

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More things in heaven and earth...
14 March 2005 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

I've only seen this once, when it was released more than twenty years ago, but have never been able to forget it. Two English women touring Versailles witness some strange people and odd goings on but they don't discuss it with one another until their return home, when they compare notes. Their independent accounts agree on most of the important points but there are enough discrepancies to pique their interest. Some further research seems to indicate that the people and events they were witness to are long dead. One lady, wearing what is consistently called a "fichou" -- I can only imagine what that is -- may have been Marie Antoinette. The rest of the movie, about half, is taken up with their decision to publish their experiences, inviting ridicule. That's a bit sketchy but it's been a long time.

I remember it for a number of reasons. One is Hannah Gordon's performance. She consistently wears a dreamy far-away look, as if not really paying attention to what others are saying, until something is said that irritates her and then she snaps back into the present with some cutting remark.

Another memorable feature of the movie is the way the experience, let's call it "supernatural", is played. No spooky music. No dialog at all. The women walk in slow motion through a fuzzily photographed set that seems imbued with mystery and heat. It's extremely effective.

Another reason I remember it is that it serves as -- if not exactly a wake-up call for scientists -- at least a nudge in the night. The story seems simple. Two sexually repressed ladies, disturbed by the strange surroundings and the summer heat, become pixillated and see ghosts. There was a lot of that sort of thing going about in Victorian and Edwardian England -- ghosts, fairies, seances. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was involved in it, and Harry Houdini, and Madam Blavatsky was a best seller. Well, it's understandable. The belief that God was behind everything was being challenged by Darwinism and other scientific advances, and it was natural that people should want to explore in the interface (or "warfare" as some called it) between science and religion. Nowadays we've outgrown all that superstition. Skeptics are fond of quoting the Scottish philosopher David Hume, something to the effect that if someone reports a miracle and tries to explain it by invoking an even greater miracle, he will always accept the lesser of the two miracles.

Since nobody believes in miracles anymore, this dictum has a modern ring to it. But if you substitute "probability" for "miracle," it begins to look a bit less powerful. At one time, after all, it would have been a miracle for stones to fall from the skies, so every thinking person rejected the possibility. That was before the discovery of meteorites.

I've been a research scientist for thirty years and have forced myself to keep an open mind, especially to events I think are silly or work in favor of my own prejudices. Another person and I once had an experience with what can only be called an unidentified flying object. It turned my conception of the world on a tilt. I've tried since then to avoid the kind of colossal arrogance that leads to thinking that our generation stands on the peak of knowledge, and that although there is more to learn about the universe, no knowledge that we already rely on can be mistaken. Baloney.

There are things we don't know -- and we don't know that we don't know them. I don't know if those two ladies went through the experience they claimed. But the possibility can't be simply dismissed.

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