Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Woman in Black : A Film (Set) To Be Frightened Of

If you're a fan of studying the elaborate sets, costumes, details and backdrops that often form the production of extravagant films and television series, then sit back in that comfy lounge chair, pull up the rug and crack open the box of marshmallows and hot chocolate, because 2012 looks like being a fantastic year for fabulous film sets. There's the second series of Downton Abbey (which has yet to reach Australia). There's The Great Gatsby, which Buz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge) is currently producing. There's A Dangerous Method with Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen, the scintillating, sexy, beautifully filmed new moved based on the story of Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and the woman who came between them. And there's The Woman in Black, the newly released supernatural film based on Susan Hill's bestselling horror of the same name.

Of all of these films, it's The Woman in Black I'm dying to see, as much for the setting as for the storyline...

I was alerted to this movie by the lovely staff of Avenue Books in Albert Park and I'm so pleased they did: I've now bought the book, read the story and am ready and waiting to be terrorised out of my very thin writer's skin. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) plays a lawyer called Arthur Kipps who ventures to an old house in a remote village to sort out the affairs of a recently deceased eccentric. (Of course, lawyers rarely have time to do such things, but Daniel likes a bit of action so off he goes). Upon his arrival, though, he discovers the townspeople are keeping a deadly secret. What happens next will scare the bejesus out of you. The comments on forums seem to suggest it's one of the scariest movies for years. One 12-year-old said: "I don't know what the rating was for this film but it has now traumatised me for life!"

It was certainly one of the most chilling books ever released. Author Susan Hills said she was inspired by Henry James' classic Turn of The Screw and that the book "wrote itself, as if by magic". It proved to scare readers right from the start. When the secretary was typing up the manuscript, she found it so frightening that she could only listen if she was not alone in the house. (That secretary, Jane Tranter, eventually went on to become BBC television’s head of drama.)

As you can see, even the characters in the film are far from happy...

And the gardener's obviously found the haunted house all too much and nicked off to another job too...

But the ghost has done some decorating...

On this interior design note, I love this quote from a reviewer in The Telegraph
"The story is a melodrama, and the atmospheric set is richly stocked with a disturbing miscellany of stuffed monkeys and dusty clockwork toys. Personally, I don’t dismiss the Pavlovian power of such bric-a-brac: just show me a cracked porcelain doll, for example, and I’m already jumpy. .."

The official website is here:

There's a far scarier trailer here:


  1. I have to admit Janelle I am even frightened to look at the trailers! So looking forward to Downton Abbey returning though. Cannot wait - especially for the marshmallows and hot chocolate! X

  2. The Woman in Black looks pretty amazing, the sets are stunning, can't wait.

  3. Can I be totally childish and go Nananenah!!!!!! I've got the second series of Downton!!!! and the final episode, a separate special, is in the mail as I write! I spread it out to begin with then one wet miserable summers day I curled up on the lounge with Haigh's frogs and hot chocolate too and watched the last three episodes!!!!!
    Don't think I will watch the trailer either I get spooked rather easily and the stills guarantee I will sleep with the lights on tonight!!!!
    Julienne xxx

  4. Well that looks cheerful! I am really looking forward to the Great Gatsby. I can remember seeing the Robert Redford and Mia Farrow version when it was first released (really, truly I was quite young at the time, it was one of the first "grown up" films I saw). Mia Farrow was beautiful as were the costumes.
    Many, many thanks for checking on tours to Villa d'Este and Hadrian's villa - I will revisit them. The last time I was in Rome(about 15 years ago), I did a day tour.
    Enjoying La Vie Parisienne very much.

  5. I'm looking forward to this, I remember the London stage play which I think has been running for years and years.

  6. Tara Turf is in Sound Of Music !!!

    Ha, I pay attention to movie gardens too.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara


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