Paul (Lewis Fiander) is a typical example of a misogynist, purposely driving his sick wife Elızabeth (Mia Nadasi) to an early death from a heart attach and marrying Theresa (Catherine Schell) instead. The death causes considerable trauma in the family, not least in the mind of aging governess Kati (Susan Richards), prompting her to vow revenge, chiefly accomplished through a strange doll, belonging to Paul's daughter Viktoria (Genevieve West).
"VIKTORIA" is a good example of how the BBC overcame budgetary restrictions to produce an enthralling piece of horror. With very few exterior shots, the production was shot mostly on video-tape, using zooms and close-ups to achieve its dramatic effect. The scene where Elizabeth perishes in her wheelchair is an early example, as the camera shows her lifeless face and then cuts back to Paul's expressions of mock-sorrow. Later on it is Paul's turn to experience suffering as he falls back and hits his head on a stone fireplace; the camera focuses on his expression of pure horror as he discovers that he has to bear the consequences of his rash action. Director Peter Sasdy makes us aware of the unearthly power at work through repeated close-ups of the doll staring blankly into space, yet at the same time curiously alive.
The unearthly nature of the story is emphasized through the use of contrast, between the young Viktoria - apparently possessed by a spirit
and Miss Graham (Judy Cornwell), a governess relying on her
oh-so-British sang froid to keep her sane throughout the drama. She reveals some uncomfortable truths about Paul's life, that help to explain why he murdered his first wife.
With Paul Lewis' music adding atmosphere to the entire play, this is a compelling piece of tele-horror, well worth watching.
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