The Canterville Ghost – Film Review

A British animated film
Based on a story by Oscar Wilde 

88 Minutes, rated PG

With more than a nod to The Ghost and Mrs Muir, this is the story of an American family who buy an English manor house, only to find that it is haunted by the ghost of previous owner Sir Simon de Canterville. He’s been haunting the place for 300 years.

We find out later that this is due to a curse and is the result of his love for Eleanor, the daughter of neighbouring family.

Set in the late 19th century, the film nevertheless presents children with a contemporary sensibility – they are outspoken in the case of Virginia, the daughter who definitely does not want to be there and ebulliently naughty in the case of her two younger twin   brothers.

The father of the family is Hiram Otis, a modern thinker who espouses the great new invention of electricity.

Love interest for the independent minded Virginia is provided by the current neighbour Henry, Duke of Cheshire, who though presented as bumbling and diffident, soon proves his courage. Virginia’s initial resentment about moving to the English house soon dissipates when she takes on the ghost’s cause.

Love conquers all is the dominant theme in this 2023 animated version of the story, which has been treated in film at least three times – in 1944, 2008 and 2016. The work determinedly promotes the lucky and outspoken heroine who knows her own mind but is nevertheless imbued with kindness and courage.

There is use of good natured humour in the film. The directors, Kim Burdon and Robert Chandler, also explore the clash of cultures and old-world/new-world.

It is quite a gentle piece and the cast list, which includes Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Imelda Staunton, Toby Jones and Miranda Hart, is certainly stellar.

I’m not sure if it is punchy enough or if the graphics are sufficiently cutting edge for critical and clued up modern young audiences, but in a world where violence is so prevalent it is pleasant to watch something with a happy ending and in which love and friendship make a difference.

Further information:

Thank you to Nedco for the opportunity to preview the film.