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The Woman In Black - 2012



I reckon it is now time to confess that the real reason our family moved out from our house in Richmond Town was because we knew that we were not the only ones inhabiting the place. As long as I remember, I had always been acquainted with them right from the beginning and it was always a comfort to have them around. Nevertheless, when I say that, it was not that everything was hunky dory – they did provide their fair bit of frightening us on more occasions than one. When my parents’ became aware of them and decided to move out, I was crestfallen and much to the dismay of everyone I received their pronouncement with great sadness. Perhaps this might startle some, but I feel that when the parallel universe, as we customarily call them, begin to grow fond of us, we form an inimical and yet an inseparable bond together.

For a long time after we left home we knew that we were never alone, and so in order not to offend them, I refrained myself from watching, reading or even discussing anything regarding the topic until I found myself nearly beckoned (twenty years hence) by something deeply instinctive to watch The Woman In Black.


It is not astonishing to become aware that it has been the highest grossing film of the year 2012 so far. On a wider platform, the art of playing on fear is what rings in the cash registers, but for those who have gone through anything, however remote it may be, will tell you that they never scare the wits out of you unless their intent is such. I say so with such confidence because they troubled us less; were on friendly terms, yet I cannot but help imagine the dread of those who happen to be in their path of wrath. Right from the start it was lovely to witness Daniel Radcliffe delivering a stoic, and yet stellar performance, as the young Arthur Kipp, an inexperienced London solicitor who is dispatched right at the start to a swampy coastal area of the Midlands to settle the affairs of a recently deceased widow. We learn that he loses his wife at childbirth and bears the misfortune via his watery light haunting eyes throughout the journey although one can assume that it is merely a figment of his imagination that she periodically hovers around him. Puzzlingly, the peasants treat Arthur with unexplained hostility, accusing him in instances for having brought about the bad luck upon them by venturing into the house that is a curse to their villages. Arthur finds in Mr Daily (who drives around a Silver Ghost Rolls Royce) somewhat of a protector than a mere friend and an intelligent and somewhat lost Mrs Daily is shown scrawling images, she claims, the deceased communicate through her. I know cynics might consider such a notion rather ridiculous, but the fact remains that indeed there are many things in this world that we think reason and science might explain, but like everything else they too fall short due to their limited capability and capacity to prove. What survives ultimately is the belief and the faith that life other than ours exists alongside us and the sooner we begin to accept it, the better it is for our wellbeing.

Without giving away more, I would like to throw light upon how Arthur spends the night at the gothic mansion with cobwebs on the chandeliers as the things go bump in the night in the company of a chair that rocks, the stairs that creak, the toys that begin movement and how once in a way, he sees a face in the windows. If you are looking for meaningless blood and gore, as one would expect from a movie made in America, refrain yourself from knocking on this door. This is a story, depending on the level of ones tolerance that could either creep you, or calm you.


The script by Jane Goldman is handsome in taking you along the successfully long and wordless interludes. Direction by James Watkins is effective as it veers you along the meandering hallways that seem alive with rasping and murmuring. The director of photography Tim Maurice-Jones does not paint the screen red but daubs it with a fine chromatic contrast with the assistance of a white, black, dun brown and grey palette. The editing by Jon Harris makes sure that something wicked arrives in every frame, but rather subtly and slowly, and at times not without an element of disturbing effectiveness. The music by Marco Beltrami is best suited to the setting – eerily soothing.

Many actors rely on dashing heroics to drive their point, while my belief is that it is only the confident that leave it to their eyes which Daniel delivers with utmost deftness. I have read critics making meaningless comparisons to his present character with that of Harry Potter. I don’t know really what to make of it other than saying it most blatantly that perhaps it is the inadequacy of their limitations that are prodding them to draw such childish conclusions rather than giving the kid, who is now all grown up, his deserved due. 

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