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The Thirteenth Tale (2013)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama  |  30 December 2013 (UK)
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Follows aging novelist Vida Winter, who enlists a young writer to finally tell the story of her life including her mysterious childhood spent in Angelfield House, which burned to the ground when she was a teenager.



, (based on novel)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Janet Amsden ...
The Missus
Alice Barlow ...
Isabel Barlow ...
Young Margaret
Isabelle March
Young Emmeline
Margaret Lea
Jacqueline Davis ...
Dr. Mawsley
Theodora Mawsley
Charlie Angelfield
Ambrose Proctor
Dr. Clifton
Emmeline & Adeline, age 9
John The Dig


The story of the residents of Angelfield House and follows ageing novelist Vida Winter, who enlists a young writer to finally tell the story of her life - including her mysterious childhood spent in Angelfield House, which burned to the ground when she was a teenager. Written by Diane Setterfield

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30 December 2013 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

El cuento número trece  »

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Run-of-the-Mill BBC Drama
1 January 2014 | by (London) – See all my reviews

Based on a best-selling Gothic novel, THE THIRTEENTH TALE contains all the virtues characteristic of contemporary BBC drama; lavish locations with plenty of exterior shots, ornately decorated interior shots, 'mood' lighting designed to create a spooky atmosphere, and a cast of well- known actors given full opportunity to show off their creative talents. In this particular piece, aging novelist Viola Winter (Vanessa Redgrave) enlists the services of little-known writer Margaret Lea (Olivia Colman) to recount her autobiography, including her Viola's mysterious childhood when her family home (Anglefield House) burned to the ground. However Viola is herself a writer of fiction, so we never quite know whether what she recounts is 'the truth' or not (if the truth exists, of course). Christopher Hampton's screenplay allows for plenty of exchanges between the protagonists, as well as creating a 'hall-of- mirrors' like effect in which nothing is what it seems to be. However the narrative of THE THIRTEENTH TALE does tend to sag; like many BBC dramas, the director James Kent seems too much concerned to create atmosphere through music and location shooting (both interior and exterior), both of which tend to impede the progress of the plot. The denouement, when it comes, is both predictable and un-scary. One is left with the feeling that the story could have been far more effectively recounted in a sixty-minute slot.

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