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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

wtf: isn’t Daniel Radcliffe a little young to play a lawyer? (also, Hammer Films is still around?)

Big news today from Daniel Radcliffe World. A press release distributed today announced that the Harry Potter star:

Daniel Radcliffe will take the lead in The Woman in Black, Hammer Films and Alliance Films hotly anticipated adaptation of Susan Hill’s best-selling novel, it was announced today by Simon Oakes, and Nigel Sinclair of Exclusive and Hammer.

To be directed by James Watkins (Eden Lake) and written by Jane Goldman (Kick Ass, The Debt) The Woman in Black follows a young lawyer, Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe), who is ordered to travel to a remote corner of the UK and sort out a recently deceased client’s papers. As he works alone in an old and isolated house, Kipps begins to uncover its tragic secrets, and his unease grows when he discovers that the local village is held hostage by the ghost of a scorned woman set on vengeance. Production is expected to begin in the Fall of 2010.

I’m intrigued by the notion of a Woman in Black movie — I saw the stage play in the West End in 1996, and found it deeply creepy — and I think Radcliffe is shaping up to be a terrific young actor. But he’s only 21 — his 21st birthday is, in fact, this Friday, July 23 — which means he’s barely old enough to have gotten through undergrad education, never mind law school and the bar exam. I’m sure legal education isn’t quite the same in the U.K. as it is in the U.S., but still, can someone be a full working lawyer at 21?
And Radcliffe is a young 21, at that: he comes across as younger than he is. It seems like an uphill battle for him to take on such a role at this point in his career.

Perhaps more important, however: Hammer Films?!

Hammer is the legendary British film brand, which was originally launched in 1934 and delivered a hugely successful run of films in the 1950s including Gothic classics “Dracula” and “The Curse of Frankenstein” and Sci-Fi picture “The Quatermass Xperiment.” Hammer’s reputation became branded worldwide as ‘Hammer House of Horror’. In the 1960s Hammer struck distribution deals with Universal, Warner Brothers, Fox and Columbia. Hammer went on to produce a huge volume of films which included such titles as “The Plague of Zombie,” “The Nanny,” “Quatermass and the Pit,” “The Devil Rides Out” and “One Million Years B.C.”

Right. Exactly. Old-school stuff. Not exactly 21st century.

Not in production since the 1980s, the company’s brand is now being aggressively reinvigorated by Exclusive Media Group (Exclusive) through new investment in the development and production of film, television and digital-platform content.

Ah. Well then.

I haven’t seen Eden Lake, though I just added it to my Netflix queue. Still: two odd bits of news wrapped up together. It’s sort of unsettling. Maybe that’s a good sign, for a horror movie…



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  • Joanne

    In answer to your question: no, it’s not really possible for a 21-year-old to be a qualified lawyer. Generally he’d graduate from university then with a law degree, go on to do a one-year Legal Practice Course (LPC), and then he’d need a two-year training contract at a solicitors’ firm before qualifying as a newly-qualified solicitor. To be a barrister (ie, argue cases in court) you do the Bar Professional Training Course and then a one-year “pupillage”. If you did a different law degree you need an extra year’s training after university. So you can’t really feasibly qualify until you’re 23 or 24. At 21 you could do a vacation scheme but you definitely wouldn’t be allowed out alone!

  • Kat

    Is this a period piece? I’m not familiar with the book but from what I’ve seen on-line the story seems to be set in Victorian or Edwardian times.
    So I did some research and Sir George Lewis (1833-1911)- apparently the most famous solicitor of his time – was admitted as solicitor in 1856.
    So if the timeframe is somewhat similar Radcliffe as ‘young solicitor’ is not such a stretch. I also don’t think he comes across younger than he is outside HP.

  • Alli

    I’m more interested in the remake of All Quiet on the Western Front. It sounds like he’s filming Woman in Black before he starts How to Succeed in Business, which means Western Front probably won’t start shooting until spring or summer. He’s going to be a busy man.

  • Lisa

    yeah I’ve seen it on stage too – plenty of opportunity for some good spooky shocks but I thought the twist was very very guessable!

  • MC

    I have two words and initials for you: Doogie Howser M.D.

  • Kate

    In Russia you can be a lawyer by 21. If you start university around 17-18 (usually 17), you have 3 years of intensive, specialized training in law. By 21, one could definitely be a lawyer. (There’s no equivalent to American college, which is just 4 years of taking courses in a range of subjects.) The Russian law students I know finish by age 20ish, and then get a one-year LLM from an American university, so by 22-23 they’re good to go.

    Don’t know about the UK, though.

  • TommyB

    I first thought it was Daniel Radcliffe starring in the new TV series by David E. Kelly.
    Maybe ‘Hogwarts Legal’?

  • RogerBW

    Old companies never die, they just get hollowed out like the victims of ichneumon wasps, and used as camouflage.

  • LaSargenta

    @RogerBW, hit the nail on the head! Great image in my brain now.

  • Matthew

    According to the Wikipedia article on the book, Rdacliffe’s character is a solicitor rather than a barrister (so wouldn’t have been called to the bar or done a pupilage). Although most people start university in the UK at 18, it’s not unknown for people to start at 16 or even younger. There’s no law stopping precious youngsters taking their GCSEs and A-Levels early and going to University early, as well.

    Looking around, I found David Lammy, who was called to the bar in 1994, the year of his 22nd birthday.

    Probably, though, the character is around 24 and Radcliffe is playing older.

  • Matthew

    Is this a period piece? I’m not familiar with the book but from what I’ve seen on-line the story seems to be set in Victorian or Edwardian times.

    I haven’t read the book, either, but I get the feeling the time is left vague, although the inspiration is Victorian and Edwardian ghost stories (and the title is inspired by The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins).

    The 1989 TV adaptation (by Nigel Kneale) specifically dates it to 1915, by referencing The Gold Rush. The actor playing the lead in that was 31 at the time, though.

    It’s much earlier, but William Garrow was called to the bar at the age of 23.

    In the stage play, they use the device of an actor playing the young Kipps and the older man recalling the events – but I doubt they’ll do that in the movie.

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