Saturday, 11 February 2012

Book vs Movie - The Woman in Black

Another book/movie comparison!  This one was less tedious than my last review for sure... (check out One Day here)

Well this was an interesting comparison to make...  I received the book for my birthday last year but was saving it to read just before the movie.  Now, time and time again I’ve done this and ruined the movie for myself by nit picking (I tend to favour the books surprisingly), but I really learned my lesson this time.  Mostly because the book is really nothing like the movie.  At a mere 160 pages, I read most of it the other night at work, and it didn’t get properly scary until about page 153... so I can see why screenwriter Jane Goldman took some liberties.  But still, respect the source material I always think.  

  In the book, the story is told by Arthur Kipps, a middle aged man looking back on an event that changed his life when, as a young lawyer eager to prove himself, he was sent to the mysterious old house of an eldery client who has recently passed, in order to sort out her affairs.  There he encounters supernatural goings on and villagers unwilling to shed any light on the subject.  And I’m just gonna say right now, for all that the writing a little dull and too descriptive most of the time, the ending is goooood.... ;)  (Not sure exactly when the book was set, but I took a guess at the 1910s, judging by a couple of clues in the text.)

Now the movie.  Meh.  Standing alone, I’d say it was good.  Not amazing, and one scene in particular was ridiculously stupid (marsh diving, that’s all I’m saying!), but not terrible overall.  In fact when I was reading the book, I felt a slight vibe of The Others, and the film gave off a mild whiff too, although the 12A cert (yup you read that right) ensures that any ‘scary’ scenes are seen coming a mile off.  Really though, in reviewing both the movie and the book, it’s rather obvious that the only thing to really stay the same was the characters names.  The book had cheerful, helpful, if slightly guarded support characters – in the movie the whole tone has been changed to make everything dark and very formulaic of a horror movie.  The whole start of the book with older Arthur was dropped, a good idea though I reckon - we all know from Harry Potter that Dan Radcliffe with aging make up still looks like Dan Radcliffe age 15.  But Arthur Kipps entire back story was changed – instead of being a happy go lucky chap with a fiancee, he was a depressed man with a dead wife and an infant son.  Eh what?!  However the reason for this becomes clear when the ‘Woman in Black’ also takes on a different persona, and you’ll see the end coming a mile off...  Oh yeah, they changed that too, surprised?

  The imagery though is superb, and even with the sometimes obvious jumpy bits, the sets have an awesomely creepy vibe, especially the nursery room – 19th century toys are not something I ever wish to see again, makes me glad to be a child of the 1980s!  Overall two good methods of entertainment so long as you treat them as separate adaptations, or you may go crazy making comparisons like I did.

  I’m giving away a copy of the book here, so if you’d like a chance to win please just leave me a comment and an email address so I can contact you! (ends Friday 17th February)

Anyone read/seen The Woman in Black?  What did you think?


(p.s. I’m now reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which is wonderful but the movie is released this week....I may be about to repeat this episode!)


  1. Not yet but I plan to see the film if it comes to our local cinema as soon as my free ticket comes from the Daily mail rewards.. I also plan to read the book so found your comparison very interesting as it's something I find myself doing a lot. Please count me in for your giveaway - thanks. Jen x

  2. I didn't even know they'd made this into a film. It's actually a fantastic play and has been doing the rounds in theatres for years. I went as part of my A Level theatre course and it's a play I truly truly love.

  3. Probably not going to see the film as I saw the 1980's tv version that was superb and scared the beejesus out of me so I'd rather remember that I think.

  4. I read the book but don't remember it much, eek!

  5. I'm planning to see the film this afternoon...

  6. I've heard mixed reviews about the film and not enough to sway me into seeing it. And until the the film i'd never heard of the book. Maybe its one i'll leave till it comes out on DVD. [Enter me please for the book giveaway my email is].

  7. This is one of my favourite books and I reckon the film is going to piddle all over it - although as a stand alone film it might well be ok. The Woman In Black has haunted my dreams for years so I don't suppose the glossy film version will ever compare to my over vivid imagination - I'll still go and see it though! x

  8. I saw this on stage a few years ago but can't remember that much about it apart from that there only seemed to be one really scary bit. Think I'd prefer to read the book than see the film though ... so count me in!

  9. I'm hopefully going to see the film on Wednesday, I'd love to read the book, please enter me
    Thanks xxx

  10. I read the book today after seeing the film..this is a first for me, the film was much better than the book and shows what a good writer Jane Goldman is. The book was really atmospheric and the film built on this with a scarier woman in black. The explanation for events seemed rushed in the book but I agree that Daniel Radcliffe couldn't have played an older character as scenes with Joseph weren't great acting.


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