Gothic: Love Is a Devil

Our final collection marking the major BFI project Gothic exposes the darker side of love.

Our final collection marking the major BFI project Gothic exposes the darker side of love. With the US versions of Wuthering Heights (1939) and Rebecca (1940) returning to the big screen, here is a chance to explore a range of home-grown interpretations of these beloved novels. No less than six adaptations of Emily Brontë’s icon of Victorian literature include Andrea Arnold’s bold re-imagining from 2011. And we return to Manderley to find out what really happened to the first Mrs de Winter with TV serialisations of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Beyond the margins of literary adaptation, this selection includes films that have woven a Gothic sensibility into their treatment of the psychological havoc wrought by love. Daughters of darkness make their presence felt, be it Sonia Dresdel’s murderous matriarch in This Was a Woman (1948) or Anna Massey as the Victorian ‘Chocolate Cream Poisoner’ Christiana Edmunds (1975), driven to madness by a first, fleeting taste of romantic love.

Ten to try

A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929)

A love triangle has terrifying consequences in Anthony Asquith’s dark masterpiece.

Love From a Stranger (1937)

A lottery winner meets the man of her dreams – but does he have sinister motives? Based on a short story by Agatha Christie.

Bedelia (1946)

Margaret Lockwood is surprisingly sympathetic as an avaricious Black Widow whose husbands aren’t long for this world.

Dear Murderer (1947)

A frosty Greta Gynt goes head to head with jealous husband Eric Portman in this pitch-black thriller.

Madeleine (1949)

An icy Ann Todd goes on trial for her lover’s murder in David Lean’s restored true-crime drama set in Victorian Glasgow.

Dream A40 (1964)

A road trip takes a sinister turn for a young gay couple in Lloyd Reckord’s underground short.

Horror of Darkness (1965)

A couple’s relationship is disturbed by the arrival of an old college friend: Glenda Jackson stars in this bleak but extraordinary Wednesday Play.

Wicked Women: Christiana Edmunds (1970)

Anna Massey stars as the Chocolate Cream Poisoner in this TV drama based on a real-life Victorian case.

Wuthering Heights (1978)

Epic five-part BBC dramatisation embracing the hysteria and savagery of its source novel.

Rebecca (1997)

Charles Dance, Emilia Fox and Diana Rigg star in this sumptuous two-part adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s novel.

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