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Williamstowne (1998)

| Drama
The Spirit of a beautiful woman returns each year, for one day, to visit loved ones in the 18th century seaport village of Williamstowne. They can't see her, only feel her presence. The ... See full summary »




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Credited cast:
Richard Horian ...
Lynn Britt ...
Sarah's Mother
Brian Heath ...
Sarah's Father
Adisa Bankole ...
Jack's Friend
Tom White ...
Jack's Friend
Cheri Severns ...
Eeva Doherty ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ropewalk Maid
Lawrence Ryan ...


The Spirit of a beautiful woman returns each year, for one day, to visit loved ones in the 18th century seaport village of Williamstowne. They can't see her, only feel her presence. The entire village must unite to find a way to give her a lasting peace. Written by Woodleaf Films

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An unusual concept, lacking firm direction
3 September 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Are you interested in mime or ballet? Do you have a fondness for folklore or tales of the supernatural? Are you moved by the musical compositions of Ralph Vaughan Williams? If the answer to any of these is "yes", you may find some pleasure in this unusual film.

I first heard of "Willamstowne" from Classic Arts Showcase on PBS and purchased the video from a website devoted entirely to this film.

It is basically a silent movie, with just a few lines of dialogue, about Sarah, a vibrant village girl who is killed in an accident, causing endless grief to her family and friends. But she returns from the dead, so strong is her need to be with her loved ones. One of the best scenes is at the beginning as she smells once again the sweet air of the earth, and reacquaints herself with the beauty of nature.

She walks among the villagers remembering her life. They sense her presence, especially her parents and husband. We see her remembering with pain the place where she was killed. She watches her daughter grow up without her. She is constantly thwarted in her attempts to re-connect to the living.

Eventually Sarah is forced to realize that the passage between the two dimensions of life and death runs one way. She must accept her own death and allow others to live in peace.

Sarah is played by the beautiful Deni Delory who moves like a dancer though she never actually dances. It is only through her sheer presence that the film achieves any level of conviction. Without her there would be little to admire, for the other actors range from the unbearable to the intolerable. This is especially true of Richard Horian who plays her husband. It is to Horian's discredit that he cast himself in this role that cries out for a powerful male presence. He comes across as an unappealing laborer devoid of personality. One can only wonder why she would return from the grave for him.

Some scenes are uncomfortably sentimental, some are silly, such as the young boy who caresses a grotesque female figurine from the stem of a ship. The presumed erotic effect escaped me completely. I found myself cringing.

But the real raison d'être of this movie is the lush music of Vaughan Williams whose "Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis" runs throughout the entire film giving it a sweep and a purpose it would not otherwise have. It is said that producer Horian was so enamored of the piece that he felt impelled to weave a tale around it.

Not everyone will like "Williamstowne". A thin plot, unfortunate casting and clunky amateurish moments take their toll. Notwithstanding all that, the concept of setting a wordless tale to great music has merit, but a much stronger hand is needed than one finds here.

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