In order to authenticate some historical papers in a cathedral town, Oxbridge academic Anderson stays at a local hotel in room 12, initially disregarding the lack of a number 13 as ... See full summary »
On his deathbed vicar Rant makes a secret confession to his niece Mary Simpson. Some twenty years later young librarian William Garrett is asked by elderly John Eldred to locate a book ... See full summary »
While cataloging the library of Barchester Cathedral, a scholar finds a diary detailing the events surrounding the mysterious death of an Archdeacon some 50 years earlier. The first of the BBC's famed 'A Ghost Story for Christmas'.
After placing his ailing wife Alice in a care home elderly academic James Parkin goes to stay at a wintry out-of-season hotel which they used to visit together. Walking on a deserted beach ... See full summary »
The Reverend Justin Somerton, a scholar of Medieval history, and his protégé Lord Peter Dattering are visiting an Abbey library. Studying a stained glass window they uncover clues leading to a treasure hidden by a disgraced Abbot.
A young orphan, Stephen, is sent to go and live with his strange, much older cousin at his remote country house. Once there, Stephen experiences terrible dreams in which he sees a young girl and boy who are missing their hearts.
Lawrence Gordon Clark
Horror legend Christopher Lee hosts and narrates a series of four half hour ghost stories all based on stories by M.R. James. 'The Stalls of Barchester', 'The Ash Tree', 'Number 13' and 'A ... See full summary »
Man of leisure Sir Richard (Edward Petherbridge) receives notification that his Uncle has died, bequeathing him his stately country manor and all its lands. On his return to England he ... See full summary »
Lawrence Gordon Clark
How different Fanshawe's holiday might have been had his trusty binoculars not broken. The Squire's archaic pair prove strangely bewitching, but is everything they see to be believed? And why does their very mention fill the elderly butler with dread? He looks like he's seen a ghost, or worse. Perhaps Fanshawe should have consulted the old man before venturing up Gallows Hill. Some stones are better left unturned, and questions of the dead should remain the secrets of the past, because sometimes the dead answer back...Written by
Historian Dr Fanshawe comes to the country home of Squire Richards in order to review the artefacts he is selling off. On his way his luggage falls off his bike and his binoculars break. He borrows those belong to the late father of Richards as the two go for a walk. From the hilltop he believes he can see an abbey but with the naked eye there is nothing. The next day he heads to the spot and finds nothing but ruins, however is there more to the glasses than just magnification? As with other years BBC4 sees in the Christmas period with a season of films that serve as modern versions of the family sitting round the fire telling ghost stories. I have seen one or two of these in the past and decided this year to make more of an effort to see them after all, one never knows if BBC4 will continue to be protected from tabloids keen to rip it down. The first film of the season I saw was A View From a Hill and it bodes well for the rest of the films if they can be this good.
The plot is simple and the film is short but it is a very good idea that uses the common device of having a character stumbling into a mystery that may or may not have claimed the life of the last person who was involved with it. The tone of the film is spot on as it delivers this story with a total lack of answers and never any more than the slightest glimpse of anything that may be a danger. My favourite example of this is a moment where Fanshawe believes he has seen something and flashes back to it; the pause function told me nothing was there but regardless it is still creepy as an effect. While the style is quite old-fashioned, director Watson uses modern camera movements sparingly and wisely thus we do get "Evil Dead" rushing shots and jump cuts but they are far from overdone and work better for it.
Letheren leads the cast well with an innocent "everyman" who guides the audience into the story well as the "eyes". Torrens is quite fun but his performance did come over like the producers wanted to get Hugh Laurie but couldn't afford him post-House. Burke is obvious perhaps but perfectly functional while Linnell is a menacing presence and needs to be no more than that. Delivery from Watson is very effective as he controls what the viewer sees (even letting us see the abbey itself through the excitable glances of Fanshawe) and it is this tone and atmosphere that makes the piece work as well as it does.
Overall then a short but effective ghost story that is reassuringly free of cheap shots and gore, delivering a nice sense of creepiness instead.
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