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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Canterville Ghost (1996)
(2017 Reissue)


Starring: Patrick Stewart and Neve Campbell
Distributor: Second Sight
RRP: £19.99


Certificate: U
Release Date: 30 October 2017

An American physicist secures work in England and so brings his family to the 17th Century Canterville stately home which he has been able to rent at a surprisingly considerate fee. It comes with a resident butler (Donald Sinden) and housekeeper (Joan Sims) – as well as a resident ghost! His teenage daughter Ginny Otis and her two younger brothers both see the frightening ghost early on, but he steadfastly refuses to believe in such things. When Ginny meets a young nobleman from the neighbouring country estate he confirms the well-known existence of the spectre who is Sir Simon de Canterville (Patrick Steward). She seeks an explanation for the presence and soon learns that his curse to haunt the halls of the house stems from a fateful decision he made hundreds of years ago and the death of his beloved wife. Can the man be forgiven and set free...?

The Canterville Ghost was written by classic author and master of wicked wit Oscar Wilde. Of course, this adaptation from 1996 is not exactly the same but, nevertheless, it’s very entertaining. Very much a family film, it can be enjoyed on many levels, and cleverly avoids slipping into the sickly-sweet bracket (the reason why I avoid most of the Christmas TV movies). A young Neve Campbell is pretty compelling, and there is a host of Carry On-type household names such as the aforementioned Sinden and Sims, as well as Leslie Phillips. However, the show belongs to Patrick Stewart. As the ghost he’s mock-scary, sad, humble and emotes practically every expression in the book. It’s inspired casting, because as the required thespian he’s like Simon Callow the Next Generation! Even though Sir Simon the ghost talks of meeting Shakespeare, to all intents and purposes Stewart plays him as the Bard and it works remarkably well. I wonder what the film would have been without him; somehow lacking, I’m sure.

Extras include: A new Interview with the Director Syd Macartney, and a new Interview with Producer Robert Benedetti. Something from Patrick Stewart would have been nice, but you can’t have everything. It’s certainly worth a look. Make it so.


Ty Power

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