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The Tractate Middoth (2013)

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 »


Mark Gatiss


M.R. James (from the story by), Mark Gatiss




Credited cast:
Louise Jameson ... Mary Simpson
John Castle ... John Eldred
Eleanor Bron ... Mrs. Goundry
David Ryall ... Dr. Rant
Roy Barraclough ... Hodgson
Sacha Dhawan ... William Garrett
Nicholas Burns Nicholas Burns ... George Earle
Paul Warren ... Rant's Ghost
Una Stubbs ... Miss Chambers
Charlie Clemmow Charlie Clemmow ... Anne Simpson
Mathew Foster ... Labourer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Messalina Morley ... Female Student


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 called 'The Tractate Middoth' but a mysterious cloaked figure takes the book from the shelves and Eldred panics and leaves. On a second attempt to find the book Garrett is confronted by the mysterious borrower, a rotting ghost, the encounter causing him to faint. He goes to the seaside to recover and, by coincidence, stays with Mrs Simpson and her daughter. He learns that she is the cousin of Eldred, who cheated her out of an inheritance when Rant died though a will in her favour was actually made and hidden in the pages of the Tractate Middoth . Eldred finally obtains the book but Rant, witnessed by Garrett, exacts vengeance from beyond the grave. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Version of Lights Out: The Lost Will of Dr. Rant (1951) See more »

User Reviews

Well worthwhile
26 December 2013 | by SpondonmanSee all my reviews

I always enjoy a good ghost story, but having only intermittently watched these intermittent BBC Christmas schedule fillers over the last four decades can't consider myself a genre expert. And this one is also based on one of M. R. James' lesser short stories that I've not read. My reading of horror short stories peaked with H. G. Wells' The Cone and my appreciation of horror films hasn't progressed beyond Night Of The Demon.

Rather serious young male student helping out at university library is asked by a mysterious hopeful borrower for a copy of Hebrew book The Tractate Middoth – which apparently merely relates to the measurements of a temple – but is thwarted twice by uncanny events. The fabulous title might have been less impressive sounding if the book had been even more mundane, however it's what has been enclosed within the pages by a dying man and what it's worth that is the McGuffin. Suspend belief because! The uncanny events lead to the student's nervous breakdown, complemented by a breathtakingly outrageous plot contrivance and on the way to the (apparently faithful) trite but swift conclusion there's more unsettling spooky moments. This is my key experience of James: there always has to be a couple of unsettling spooky moments in his stories, and Mark Gatiss as writer/director gets this requirement over well. Acting and production were high quality; my cleverer daughter gave it a thumbs up although niggled by the updating of the setting to the 1950's. The programme was lean and slick and all I'd hoped, expected and desired, overall imho a good directorial debut by Gatiss who appears to be swarming all over the BBC at present. If only for the sake of continuing a good BBC Christmas tradition I can only hope it leads to many more James' from him!

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25 December 2013 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Трактат Миддот See more »

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