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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Woman in Black

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliff) is a London lawyer around 1910 that is performing poorly since lost his wife four years previously when his son was born.
 
His boss at the law firm gives him one last chance and sends him to a remote town on the northern coast of England to go through the papers of an old woman recently deceased. On Tuesday Arthur promises his son they will soon be together as the nanny is to bring the boy to the town by train on Friday for a little holiday.
 
As soon as he gets off the train people react badly to him and want him gone. He manages to get a room at a pub but it has a terrible story. Three little girls walked out of the window years before and died. She and her husband lost a son when the tide flooded the causeway linking the house to the mainland and his body was never recovered.
 
Arthur meets one man who seems normal, Mr. Daily (Ciaran Hinds). He is the only one in town with a vehicle but he and his wife lost a son as well. But against the advice of everyone, Arthur makes his way across the causeway leading to the old mansion.
 
Arthur misses his wife and reads about séances that were very popular at the time. Arthur years to receive some kind of message from his deceased wife, Stella. A couple of days into his work, Arthur sees a woman dressed in black in the cemetery and goes to explore. Daily talks with Arthur about spiritualism and debunks the practice, but Daily’s wife is a believer. She sees things.
 
And children begin dying all around Arthur. He is greatly distraught and wants to stop his son and the nanny from coming north.
 
“The Woman in Black” is an atmospheric, gothic horror novel based on the 1983 book by Susan Hill.  It is produced by Hammer Film Productions, founded in England in 1935, sold in the 80s and now starting up again. When I was studying in England Hammer films were always being talked about, especially in relation to the underground railways.
 
In “Woman in Black”, the train is highly symbolic and plays a key role.
 
This is a film about grief and love, it is about mental illness and who decides who is ill or not. In some warped way, when Arthur tries to set the universe aright to appease the woman in black, she returns the favor.  And it is not all that upsetting except to the living. The story also has a terrible Pied Piper quality about it because vengeance for an original crime is the real horror.
  “The Woman in Black” is well scripted, acted, and filmed. But is it horror or about the power of love? Can they be the same?


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