The Woman in White

1997

Mystery / Thriller

6
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 52%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 52% · 100 ratings
IMDb Rating 7.0/10 10 1242 1.2K

Director

Top cast

Andrew Lincoln as Walter Hartright
Tara Fitzgerald as Marian Fairlie
Simon Callow as Count Fosco
John Standing as Mr. Gilmore
720p.WEB
1.11 GB
900*720
English 2.0
NR
25 fps
2 hr 2 min
Seeds 32

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Terrell-4 8 / 10

A grand Victorian Gothic adventure, filled with madness, stratagems, love, graves and dark, dark woods

"The bad dreams always come back again like unwanted friends," says Marion Fairlie, who with her half-sister, Laura, lives in a vast mid-Victorian country estate. "And last night I found myself in Limmeridge churchyard. Normally, people who are dead stay dead, just as normally it is the criminals who are locked up rather than the victims. But then, there was nothing normal about what happened to us..." And we're off on a first-class Gothic story of madness, deception and villainy, based on Wilkie Collins' great novel of Victorian mystery. It's a good idea to pay close attention, because there are plots within plots, yet they all center on a cunning and ruthless scheme which involves, what else, money, lots of money.

Marion Fairlie (Tara Fitzgerald) and her sister, Laura Fairlie (Justine Wadell) are devoted to each other. Marion is fierce and protective; Laura is softer and much more romantic. Marion has no money of her own; Laura will inherit riches when she comes of age. Marion has no marriage prospects that we know of; Laura has been pledged sometime ago to Sir Percival Glyde (James Wilby), an altogether too charming aristocrat. They are the wards of their uncle, a fussy, condescending, immensely self-centered hypochondriac (Ian Richardson). All seems to be quite routine, but then a young artist, Walter Hartright (Andrew Lincoln), is engaged to teach them drawing and artistic appreciation. And when he arrives at night to the local train station, there is no carriage, so off he sets out on foot to the estate. In the dark woods he encounters a strange woman, dressed all in white, wandering about and speaking of things he does not understand, who then disappears. Are we uneasy? Yes, and so is he and the sisters when they come to realize the strange woman looks much like Laura. Later, does love emerge between Walter and Laura? Does a bud bloom? Is there a misunderstanding that sends Walter away and results in Laura marrying Sir Percival? Does a canker gnaw? And do secrets slowly come to light about the relationships among Laura, Marian and the woman in white...do we learn to be deeply suspicious of Sir Percival's intentions...do we come to enjoy the style and manners of Sir Percival's close friend, Count Fosco (Simon Callow)...and do we eventually realize the foul depths of depravity, as well as the power of honor and true love, that humanity is capable of? Do we visit Victorian insane asylums, see falls from high towers, dig open graves in the middle of the night and watch retribution arrive amidst the roaring flames of a locked church?

Well, of course, and it's a grand journey for us.

This BBC/Masterpiece Theater program features fine acting and outstanding production values. To fit Collins' 500-plus-page novel into a television show of less than 120 minutes means a good deal had to be cut or abridged, and some changes were made most likely to achieve greater impact in the little time available. Still, taken on its own terms, the production of The Woman in White in my opinion works very well as a moody, romantic, dark television tale. Tara Fitzgerald as Marion gives a commanding performance as a woman determined to protect and then save her sister. James Wilby as Sir Percival manages the clever feat of slowly letting us see the depraved slime beneath the skin, who still has charm amidst the villainy. Ian Richardson as the young women's uncle almost steals the show. He gives such a bossy and pungent performance it almost unbalances the story every time he appears. Perhaps the weakest of the main parts is Simon Callow as Count Fosco. The Count is simply a monster, yet a supremely civilized and charming one. Collins described him as being of immense girth. Callow does a fine, mannered job of it, but to me he lacks a little of the monstrosity of evil.

At one point, Marian tells us, "My sister and I are so fond of Gothic novels, we sometimes act as if we were in them." Little did she know what was in store for herself and Laura.

Reviewed by KIM_HARRIS 6 / 10

Entertaining enough but lacks subtlety

This film adaptation is a real missed opportunity. The cast is good and does its best with the screenplay but the subtlety of Collins's novel is largely lost. It is quite possible to see why the format of the original novel would require some structural changes but quite why the makers of the film felt it necessary to change so much in the plot is frankly a mystery.

It feels like they had decided who they wanted to play the parts and changed the story accordingly. Marian Holcombe is portrayed by Collins as having an ugly and masculine face; Tara Fitzgerald has anything but so they changed the character. Why change her name to Marian Fairlie? Sir Percival Glyde is too young and Fosco too thin.

Ah well, it's entertaining enough but like so many adaptations, you will be disappointed if you know the book. Out of curiosity I must now try to find copies of the other adaptations to see how they fare.

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird 7 / 10

While the 1982 adaptation is the far superior version, this is better than it's given credit for

Judging from the vehement hate this version of The Woman in White has gotten on Amazon, seeing as the book is a masterpiece and how outstanding the 1982 version with Diana Quick was, I was expecting this adaptation to be bad. After seeing it, it is better than it's given credit for though the 1982 version is far better, which was very faithful, was more consistently acted and had a perfect length and pace. Those who say that as an adaptation the 1997 version is very unfaithful are right with some names changed, physical appearances not matching and Glyde's real motivation for persecuting Anne not making much sense here. However adaptations do deserve to be judged on their own, and on its own while very flawed the 1997 version is not that bad. The book is big and its complexity is difficult to adapt, so the attempt is at least laudable.

It could have done with being longer(125 minutes is not enough I don't think) and could have slowed down, that way the story and characters would have had more complexity and intricacy. The voice over agreed was not needed and added nothing, and not all the casting works, both due most likely to their roles being half-realised/developed. James Wilby was rather dull and not oily enough for Sir Percival Glyde, he is charming and aristocratic, which is just one part of his character, but from personal perspective he never believed as a main villain/criminal. And Simon Callow- also suffering from the worst of mismatched physical appearances, too thin- is too mannered and civilised for Fosco, quite possibly one of literature's most interesting villains, the intelligence is there, the evil doesn't register, at least to me.

However, it is a beautifully made adaptation. The scenery, sets and locations looking splendid, there is an eeriness but also like a postcard-come-to-life quality and make-up, costumes and hair that looks authentic. The photography is seamlessly composed, like looking at a painting. The music score is an underrated one, it was only mentioned in like 3 or 4(out of 58) reviews on Amazon, it is very magnetic and has an eerily haunting quality that matches the tone adeptly. The dialogue does have flow, sounds very intelligent and thoughtful and makes an effort to make the characters believable(especially Marian, Madame Fosco and Farlie). The story is not as intricate- there could have been more of a danger if the villains convinced and were developed more- but still has that Gothic touch, is fun and tense and the romantic angle is tender.

So while it loses the book's complexity and doesn't make as much sense there is evidence of good, solid storytelling. The British Museum scene is tense in a subtle way and through body language too, and the climax is chillingly hair-rising. Most of the cast do work. Tara Fitzgerald commands the screen brilliantly, bringing out Marian's strong-willed and passionate qualities. Justine Waddell is a softer, more trusting and sympathetic contrast as Laura, almost fairy-like, and Susan Vidler is a touchingly vivid Anne even with some of her lines being on the deadpan side. Kika Martin's Madame Fosco is harrowing and Adie Allen in a role that even when condensed has shades of Rebecca's Mrs Danvers has the right sinister touch. And Ian Richardson, who was one of the high points of the earlier adaptation of The Woman in White, gives an interpretation of Mr Fairlie that has actually grown while keeping the essence of the character. He is every bit the nervous wreck but also appropriately condescending and self-centred with a touch of humour.

Overall, for a better version adaptation-wise, it's best to watch the 1982 version, judging it on its own it is decent and is not wholly deserving of the vitriol it's gotten. 6.5/10 Bethany Cox

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