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Whistle and I'll Come to You (2010)

Not Rated | | Horror | TV Movie 24 December 2010
After placing his ailing wife Alice (Gemma Jones) in a care home elderly academic James Parkin (Sir John Hurt) goes to stay at a wintry out-of-season hotel which they used to visit together... See full summary »


Andy De Emmony


Neil Cross, M.R. James (short story)


Cast overview:
John Hurt ... James Parkin
Gemma Jones ... Alice Parkin
Lesley Sharp ... Hetty
Sophie Thompson ... Carol
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After placing his ailing wife Alice (Gemma Jones) in a care home elderly academic James Parkin (Sir John Hurt) goes to stay at a wintry out-of-season hotel which they used to visit together. Walking on a deserted beach he finds a ring with a Latin inscription,which translates as "Who Is This Who Is Coming". He takes the ring back to the hotel but at night he hears loud banging on his door, even though he is the sole guest, as well as seeing a white-clad apparition on the beach. He is seemingly the victim of ghostly revenge. But who is the avenger? Written by don @ minifie-1

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horror movie remake | remake | See All (2) »




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Did You Know?


James Parkin: I wish you'd seen her when she was herself. I was a very lucky man. The only thing is, you do begin to think, with no children, that when you're gone, there's nothing left. A whole lifetime of loving someone just finished up. And forgotten. It all seems strangely wasteful to me. Inelegant. The universe is usually so parsimonious; conservation of energy and so on. But not when it comes to love. When it comes to love, the universe is oddly profligate.
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Version of Omnibus: Whistle and I'll Come to You (1968) See more »

User Reviews

A very sad and beautiful piece of work

I recently saw both versions of "Whistle and I'll come to you" for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed both but was somewhat surprised to come on here and see all the negative reviews for the remake. So this may help to redress the balance a little. Certainly, I am no fan of remakes. The vast majority are utterly pointless vanity projects and crucially, their major flaw is that they extract and dilute content, often removing a central motif, character or complexity found within the original work. Some of these criticisms have been levelled at the remake of "Whistle", however I feel this is unfair. I am no expert on MR James and I appreciate this prevents me from having a full picture of why people value this story so much.

It seems that the themes of the original 1968 TV production are best summed up by muldwych in another review posted on IMDb:

1. "The heart of the story is the folly of arrogant presumption, that there will always be realms of understanding beyond mortal man, and to believe you can quantify existence is to invite downfall".

2. "The rapid destruction of Parkins's self-assured, almost autistic world is almost as disconcerting as the unknown forces he has unleashed".

This take on the 1968 version is fascinating and there is no doubt that this is the central theme of the piece. However, with the wonderful Michael Hordern playing the role, I just don't get the sense of his world crumbling in this way. He seems intrigued by these "unknown forces" but never particularly troubled by them (with the exception of the last 30 seconds). In a scene five minutes before the end, he is still fussing about not liking tomatoes and generally bumbling around in his own world. The events hardly seem to depict the dismantling and discrediting of an intellectual mindset as other reviews have described.

So what is it about the John Hurt version that irritates fans of the original adaptation? Well, it is indeed a very different character with different circumstances. Hurt has just taken his incapacitated wife, suffering from dementia, into a care home and then gone on a therapeutic holiday alone to revisit places where they spent time together. While this twist raises the ire of many fans of the original tale, for me on first viewing without any background knowledge, it was utterly compelling and sublime. There is a palpable sense of loss, loneliness and bereavement running throughout, as Hurt appears to be pushing himself into this new life of solitude, forcing himself to function and revisit the past, a place that is both comforting and gut wrenchingly bittersweet. The film just seems to throb and reverberate with a glow of sadness and a kind of bleak fortitude.

And this is perhaps where the two adaptations link together. Both men have been cut loose from their moorings and their belief systems, and the way they understand and relate to the world around them is being called into question. Michael Hordern's version of the character is not put into this situation until he blows into the whistle. John Hurt is already adrift when he arrives at the hotel and the supernatural events send him further into this spiral. But they are both lost souls in different ways and for this reason, they are both equally valid as a lead character.

The two versions are exquisitely filmed and both are utterly beautiful. I did find more tension in the 2010 remake, I have to say, and I found myself nervously scouring the edges and background of each frame for any ghostly figures or disturbing detail. So for this reason, maybe the John Hurt version just edges it for me. Admittedly though, perhaps the title of the remake should've been changed, as it is a little clumsy considering the plot changes involved.

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Release Date:

24 December 2010 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

BBC Drama Productions See more »
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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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