Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Woman in Black (4 Stars)

I'm reviewing the 2012 version of this film starring Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps. My guest writer Con already reviewed it here. I still haven't seen the original version, so I'll judge it on its own merits.

The London lawyer Arthur Kipps is sent to the town Crythin Gifford in the far north of England to deal with the estate of Alice Drablow, a woman who has recently died. He is told by the locals that nobody will buy her house because they think it's haunted. Arthur doesn't believe in the supernatural and dismisses the stories, but when he's there he sees a mysterious woman in black clothing wandering in the grounds, and sometimes even inside the house. Soon after his arrival mysterious deaths occur. He remains in the town, not just to do his job but also to solve the mystery.

This is one of the new Hammer horror films that have been recently released, and will hopefully continue to be released. I have to say then, with some shame, that the film has never been released in England in its original form. The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) originally gave the film a 15 certificate, so the studios cut 82 seconds from the film in order for it to be given a 12 certificate. (Some reports say only 6 seconds were cut, while 76 seconds were darkened to hide details). The censored version is what was shown in the theatres and released on DVD in the UK. That's disgusting. Ironically, even after the cuts were made there were many complaints from parents who thought the film unsuitable for 12-year-olds. It was necessary for me to buy the film from Germany, where the film has been released uncut with a 16 certificate.

This is selling out at its lowest level. I don't blame the BBFC. They have their guidelines, and even if I don't always agree with the decisions they make, they're only doing their jobs. I am opposed to film studios dumbing down a film just to increase the box office takings by allowing younger visitors. They should be ashamed of themselves, sacrificing art for the sake of money.

I don't know whether any cuts were made to the American version. Can anyone tell me?

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