11 user 6 critic

A View from a Hill (2005)

Not Rated | | Drama, Horror | TV Movie January 2005
In fact Dr Fanshawe is not on holiday. As an archaeologist, he has been engaged by the squire to catalogue a private collection of local artefacts.


Luke Watson


Peter Harness, M.R. James (story)

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Complete credited cast:
Mark Letheren Mark Letheren ... Dr. Fanshawe
Pip Torrens ... Squire Richards
David Burke ... Patten
Simon Linnell Simon Linnell ... Baxter


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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Horror


Not Rated






Release Date:

January 2005 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Ghost Story for Christmas: M.R. James - A View from a Hill See more »

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User Reviews

Effective and atmospheric ghost story
23 February 2008 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

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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