I watched Christmas Day's THE TRACTATE MIDDOTH produced by Mark Gatiss. Although it was very good, well acted, I thought it was over-crammed with special effects and eccentricities. The hour long documentary he did afterwards about Monty James was wonderful.
Post by mattofthespurs on Dec 26, 2013 10:32:40 GMT
Tractate Middoth adaptation was superb. Thoroughly enjoyed that. I've taped the documentary for perusal at a later date. My old eyes just would not stay open long enough (thanks mainly to my Son getting up at 6am with excitement).
Re. The Tractate Middoth. I enjoyed this greatly. The realistion of Mr. Rant's ghost was EXACTLY how I saw it in my mind's eye. The crawling spiders and all. Now, how about a nice version of 'Count Magnus', hmm?
''...You'll like Mr Barlow... And he'll like you...''
Hats off to Mr Gatiss. A great adaptation of a great story. I was incredibly let down by the BBC's last attempt at televising M R James, namely the incredibly disappointing version of "Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to you, My Lad" - it really does take some doing to produce something starring John Hurt that falls so flat - so it's good to see them back on track. Since it was shown as "A Ghost Story for Christmas" we can but hope that there'll be more in the years to come...
By the way, time is short; you've only got until 10:04 pm on New Years Day to watch &/or download it on the BBC iPlayer before they remove the thing and presumably sell it as a DVD for some idiotic price.
While it's always nice to see the BBC producing something like this, I did feel that it wasn't particularly scary. I also felt that Gatiss played too many scenes for humour. However, it is one of James' weakest stories but I'd love it if the BBC were to adapt other author's like Le Fanu or Marjorie Bowen - if only to educate the world that there were great authors of that era beside James.
I didn't manage to catch the Tractate Middoth, but I watched the documentary on James' life. It wasn't very interesting, but I suppose there's not very much you can do with an MR James biography. He lived the most boring life imaginable. There were endless shots of ancient buildings and old codgers biking around the countryside. Of course, to spice it up, they spent a lot of time on the rumours that he was gay, despite the complete absence of evidence to support it. I was hoping there would be more of a focus on his writing and his influences, but sadly no. They even neglected to bring up Sheridan Le Fanu's name. As I recall, James said something to the effect of Le Fanu's ghost stories being the only ones worth reading at the time. James is certainly the father of the modern English ghost story, but perhaps Gatiss wanted to skirt around the inconvenient fact that the origins of the modern English ghost story may actually lie in Irish folklore and its malevolent ghosts.
Next Christmas, I'm hoping the BBC adapts one of my favourite MR James stories: A Story on a Disappearance and an Appearance. However, it would probably be too hard to film, but just imagine what a talented filmmaker (not Gatiss) could do with that... The curtains pulling back on the Punch and Judy stage, the devilish face of Punch as he carries out the murders, the lights growing dim, the muffled struggling, the sickening crunch as Punch dispatches yet another victim, the crushed skulls of the puppets lying in pools of blood, looking all too real while the light grows ever dimmer until, in complete darkness, a heavy-breathing Punch chuckles "That's the way to do it..."
I didn't manage to catch the Tractate Middoth, but I watched the documentary on James' life. It wasn't very interesting, but I suppose there's not very much you can do with an MR James biography. He lived the most boring life imaginable.
I'm not sure James would see it that way!
I though Mark Gatiss's take on The Tractate Middoth was a huge improvement on last years deadly dull, humourless Oh Whistle And I'll Come To You. The cobwebbed corpse was perhaps a little full on, but some excellent performances, not least from the spider. Had no problem with the documentary, either.
I'd love it if the BBC were to adapt other author's like Le Fanu or Marjorie Bowen - if only to educate the world that there were great authors of that era beside James.
I'd like to see Gatiss given his chance with a story apiece from, say, H. R. Wakefield, L. P. Hartley, Percival Landon, May Sinclair, D. K. Broster and Eleanor Scott. A Mystery & Imagination for today.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
Thanks a lot Steve! I had a great lunch listening to it while eating. The characters are wonderful, especially the landlady, who deserves an honourable place in the Best Pub Landloards thread. And what an appropriate way to end an antiquarian story: "Bontine was taken to the hospital and there declared hopelessly insane. Shortly after, he returned to Cambridge to resume his academic career".
I also sought out "The House at World's End" by the same writer on the strength of "The Teeth". Not a spoof, though! Really, we should have a thread about MRJ send-ups. Dem's notes about the Dennistoun stories have certainly whetted my appetite.
One actor in this seems to be "doing" Valentine Dyall and another appears to have a line in Kenneth Williams impersonations. Delightful!
Gosh, I wouldn't have thought MRJ fans would be that easily offended! "The Teeth of Abbot Thomas" is very funny, but not quite as funny as "The Demon Cakestand of Beestly Chase", which I recommend to all (I don't know how easy it is to find, though).