Wednesday, 19 January 2011
WHISTLE AND I'LL COME TO YOU
Christmas Eve. A perfect time to curl up in front of the fire and read a good old fashioned ghost story. M.R. James was probably the numero uno when it comes to creating literary spine-chillers,and the small screen has been graced by several worthy adaptations of his work The BBC had previously broadcast a fine translation of WHISTLE AND I'LL COME TO YOU, starring Michael Hordern, which hit all the right notes. Now, we have a modern re-working of this tale and once again BBC did the honours, possibly resulting in a split between hard-line James buffs and those who were not averse to some significant plot revision.
Here, John Hurt takes centre stage as James Parkin; a recently retired academic who leaves his catatonic wife in a nursing home and travels to a coastal resort in search of a few days break. When Parkin finds an old ring on the seemingly deserted beach, all manner of strange sights and sounds come forth, installing an atmosphere of dread and a longing for life to be as it once was.
Consumed by guilt at having to leave his sick wife behind, Parkin is haunted by a body that has outlived its personality, which is probably even more frightening than any supernatrual manisfestation. Indeed, this is very much a tale for our times, highlighting the pain of having to let go, with the nursing home (like the hotel) boasting a single member of staff like some gatekeeper who has always been there.
I was surprised to learn this is the first ghost story featuring John Hurt's involvement and, as you might expect, he's perfect for the role truly conveying the air of a disturbed man.
While this particular version may upset some with its script liberties, I found WHISTLE AND I'LL COME TO YOU to be worthwhile viewing, and a nice companion to the previous, slightly superior take.