Recently bereaved teenager Alison goes with her step brother to stay for the summer in the quiet retreat of a relatives house in the Welsh Valleys. After hearing a scratching noise coming from the roof of the house, Alison discovers some old dinner plates in the attic which have a flowered owl pattern. What is the connection between this,the loony gardener, the angry housekeeper and the legend of the old village magician, who made a wife out of flowers and later turned into an owl when she betrayed him? Written by
This is not actually a movie but a TV series adapted from an award winning novel. Although Garner's work was marketed as children's fiction at his best he is multi-layered and this is one of his best. Alison is on holiday with her newly re-married mother, stepfather and stepbrother at a house in a remote Welsh valley. She begins a relationship with Gwyn, the son of the housekeeper, much to the disgust of her mother but soon parental disapproval is the least of their worries when Gwyn finds an owl-patterned dinner service - the Owl Service of the title - hidden away in the loft and releases an ancient magic into the valley. The past is re-enacted in the present, the tragedy of what has happened over and over in the valley is relived with a modern slant. A brief description like this can't do justice to the creeping tension of the story where even the tiniest, seemingly innocuous, event resonates with unfolding significance. I have the series on video,taped on its last TV outing in 1985 so now twenty years old, and it's not going to last for ever.
Since I wrote this post originally in 2005, and after some lobbying of Granada and Network DVD, the series has now been released. If you've never seen it before buy it, you won't be disappointed. If you have seen it before no doubt you will have already bought it as I have.
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