The Woman in Black (1989 film)

Cover to the 1989 made for TV film

THE WOMAN IN BLACKUnited Kingdom-Canada-Sweden-2012

Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps


Ciaran Hinds as Daily


Janet McTeer (w/Daniel Radcliff) as Mrs. Daily

Directed by James Watkins
Screenplay by Jane Goldman
Based on the novel by Susan Hill

    Alright, now that I have my rant against the chronically rude off my chest, I want to give you my actual review of The Woman in Black. As I said before, I had my doubts about the film. These doubts were aimed mainly at Daniel Radcliffe and his ability (or not) to step away from Harry Potter once and for all. In order to play the role of Arthur Kipps successfully, there could be no trace whatsoever of a certain young wizard from Hogwarts Academy. It’s not just the success of Radcliffe, but the success of the film that lies on his shoulders and how well he portrays Kipps.

    The Woman in Black was a novel written by Susan Hill and published in 1983. It was converted into a play in 1987 and in June 29th, 2011 it celebrated its 9000th performance at London’s West End. The book then became a made-for-television film in 1983 and starred Adrian Rawlins in the role of Arthur Kidd; otherwise known as Kipps in the novel and the 2012 film. It’s all on Wikipedia if you want to take the time to look it up.

    The film is about a young lawyer, played by Radcliffe, who lives with his young son and his nanny. He is still grieving over the death of his wife at childbirth and his grief is beginning to affect his life and his work performance. This doesn’t set with his employers and he is given one last chance at redemption before being shown the door. He is sent to handle the affairs of a recently deceased client, Alice Drablow, and of her estate, Eel Marsh. It is there that Kipps finds himself face to face with the woman in black, a vengeful and scorned spirit that preys on the children of the village; manipulating them into taking their own lives in sudden and violent ways. Kipps soon finds himself in a race against time against this dark specter as he attempts to solve the mystery of her scorn.

    So, how does Radcliffe fare? To be honest, he does a fine job in the role of Kipps. I detected no trace of Potter anywhere in the film. Radcliffe has matured into a fine young actor; as long as he keeps his head on straight he has a bright future ahead of him.

The Woman in Black is a frightening ghost story that foregoes gore and cheap effects for genuine chills, an engaging story and able acting and directing. The film is released by the recently resurrected Hammer Films and comes closest to the haunting production values featured during the company’s hey-day in the mid 1950’s to the late 1970’s. All told, I believe both Count Dracula and Albus Dumbledore would have both been proud.

Mark Gatiss was asked to write the screenplay.
Adrian Rawlins –who played Daniel Radcliffe’s father in the Harry Potter series— played the same character in the 1989 version as Radcliffe plays in this film.
The boy who plays Daniel Radcliffe’s son is his real godson, a casting idea made by Radcliffe himself served to help him establish an authentic relationship between father and son.
Related articles