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Summary / Analysis
Times of India
A baronet named Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) travels to America to meet a wealthy industrialist named Carter Cushing (Beaver) to seek funding for a newfangled mining device. However, his daughter, the lovely Edith (Wasikowska) soon falls for Sharpe. A turn of events leads her across the Atlantic to Cumbria, England, where she finds herself in a mansion that almost lives and breathes, replete with hoary horrors and sinister secrets.
What is immediately striking about this movie is the immaculate camerawork, framing and detailing. For example, when tea is stirred in an antique china cup, you hear the faint rasp and tinkle of silver spoon against porcelain. The crunch of leather hobnail boots on virgin snow is audible. An ancient bedroom door, when cautiously opened, emanates a symphony of creepy creaks. And when Edith holds aloft a candelabrum to help illuminate her path through dark, corroded corridors, you can almost hear the flames burning away on the fat candles.
Writer of Goth-horror Edith, who lost her mother when she was little, adores her dad. However, she has some kind of a gift for seeing ghosts. So much so, that she believes that ghosts are real. Early in her life, her deceased mother's apparition warns her about great danger that she'll face in the future. But all of that is swept away when the earnest but impoverished Sharpe enters her father's office (and her life) to petition for financial patronage. While he doesn't receive that (Cushing takes an instant dislike for Sharpe's sense of entitlement thanks to his title), he does win over the Edith's heart, much to her dad's displeasure. Sharpe's sister Lucille also takes an instant dislike for Edith; she thinks the latter is 'just a child'.
There's plenty of doom and Gothic gloom in here but at its heart, this is a beautiful story (albeit a rather unusual one) of courage, and love.
Crimson Peak is in step with the explorations of del Toro’s acclaimed Spanish-language productions, ones that gained the Mexican filmmaker international recognition. To that end, producer Callum Greene—who last partnered with del Toro on Pacific Rim—aptly refers to his new work as del Toro’s “first English-language Spanish film.” Reflecting upon this project’s influences, del Toro shares: “Crimson Peak is the ghost-story equivalent of Pan’s Labyrinth. It has the combination of several genres, and the fact that we are packing the punch of a traditional ghost story with the class and beauty of a classic.”
Crimson Peak is, according to del Toro, “the darkest of fairytales,” and the classic recipe includes a character on a journey to adulthood. “You can find it in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ or in ‘The Snow Queen,’ in works by Oscar Wilde or Hans Christian Andersen,” he says. The story involves finding independence; the rite of passage takes the character on a “journey through darkness… through geographical space, across the oceans, into the underworld.”
One of del Toro’s favorite gothic romance novels is a lesser known read—“Uncle Silas,” by 19th century author Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, which encompasses all the wickedness, horror and emotion of the genre. “This movie is extremely close to ‘Uncle Silas’ in my heart,” he states.
Allerdale Hall is a vast gothic mansion that sits atop a remote English hillside, with generations of secrets buried within. Set in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a bleak open landscape of barren earth and pure white snow, Allerdale Hall is perched above a profitable red clay deposit, which earns it the name “Crimson Peak.” Every room holds a new mystery—from the subterranean mines to the forbidden attic—from the library of secrets to the cage-like elevator with a mind of its own. The house is designed like a butterfly killing jar…designed to allure and trap the beautiful and the innocent. It also hides the Sharpe family’s darkest secrets and reveals unspeakable truths. Indeed, who will make it out alive?
No existing structure could satisfy del Toro’s vivid imagination. Where other Hollywood productions would have turned to computer technology, creating an edifice filled with fears and terrors, the director decided to build a magnificent set of days gone by. Building the haunted house required teams of set designers, builders and decorators to work in tandem for nearly six months in order for everything to be completed in time for the shoot. Naturally, designing to facilitate the work of cinematographer Dan Lausten was a key part of every conversation.
Twelve weeks before preproduction began, production designer Thomas Sanders arrived in Toronto with a 20-foot trailer, ready to create a shop and build models. Sanders’ process is unique; no one in the industry builds models of his scope. His method, what Gordon refers to as “3D sketching,” was instrumental in determining all the features of the final set design—including proportions, wild walls, layouts, colors and finishes. It was not a traditional art department in the beginning, but to accommodate Sanders’ process Gordon hired a support team—key scenic artists Cameron Brooke and Robert Brooke—as the model building began.
Allerdale Hall was no ordinary set; it was a house complete with ceilings and hallways connecting all the rooms, the equivalent of 10 sets in one. The idea was that the seamless set would allow the camera to move from one part of the house to the next without the need for digitally stitching scenes in postproduction. The only room independent of the house set was the bedroom: “That was the breaking point,” recalls Gordon. All the elements of this colossal set had to be ready at the same time. “We needed part of the exterior going into the foyer, going into the grand stairwell, into the kitchen, into the coal room, into the scullery, into the elevator, into the great hall and upstairs. Remember, it’s a 70-foot corridor upstairs and up to the third floor attic.”
A team of sculptors created clay models of architectural pieces from the period that would be impractical (and virtually impossible) to purchase. The clay models would then be made into molds, and the pieces were reproduced in the quantities needed. The full-scale production team was upwards of 120 people and, at any one time, approximately 60 were working in the mold-making department—from the sculptors and plasterers to the people making the silicone to those creating the jackets.
Costume designer Kate Hawley describes Crimson Peak as a dreamy, theatrical Victorian film rather than one resembling reality. When the project began, del Toro declared to Hawley: “We’re going to build the costumes, and we’re going to couture the architecture.” She and her team created a wardrobe to mirror del Toro’s sculptural visions. Indeed, the designer notes: “His work is about layering…there are elements of a fairytale, there is history, there is poetry.”
Hawley’s team became so attached to each creation they began naming the costumes. She sums: “All of the dresses have their moods.” The “Buffalo Bookworm” is Edith’s “Mary Shelly-romanticized-writer” ensemble, which is masculine in the tailoring. The “Heartbreak Dress,” based on a Klimt painting, is a delicate and fragile gown with a small flower with a heart in the center. “It was how we found our language in terms of decoration, adding to support the story,” says Hawley. Flowers were a theme in Edith’s costumes conveying “richness and fertility… her generosity in spirit.” Her bride’s dress was decorated with a string of violets, a Victorian symbol of memory and morning.
Lucille’s dresses were barren with motifs of withered leaves that were full of catastrophe, starvation and barrenness. The embroidery on Lucille’s wardrobe mirrored the details in the architecture of the house. “So she was wearing the house in many ways,” says del Toro. The tailoring of her wardrobe was decidedly different as well. Hawley’s designs accentuated Lucille’s thinness; the dresses were very fitted and slim “so you could feel the bones through the clothes.” Her frail silhouette resembled the long, narrow shapes of the house.
When Edith begins to fade at Allerdale, she becomes frail “more transparent, like a chrysalis” and that idea translates to her nightdress. The layered delicate silks of the costume were intended to aid Wasikowska’s performance in its movement. For their part, Lucille and Thomas were like chameleons in their world. Against the blues and shadows of the house Lucille blended into the walls like a moth. To further accentuate the director’s motif, the wardrobe team spent hours hand-stitching fine fabrics by using antiquated pleating techniques; this made the outfits flow and flutter like the wings of del Toro’s favorite insects.
Guillermo del Toro did some slight rewrites on the script after Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska were cast.
Emma Stone was originally cast as one of the leads but she was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. She was replaced by Mia Wasikowska.
Everything in the house was made for the house. Nothing was reused from salvaged parts.
Though the house was built in its entirety, it had to be torn down at the end of the shoot in order to make space in the studio.
Benedict Cumberbatch was originally cast as the male lead but left the project due to undisclosed reasons. He was replaced by Tom Hiddleston.
Lucille Sharpe's dog is a Papillon. The Papillon, meaning butterfly in French, is known for its butterfly look because of the its large fringed ears and symmetrical facial markings which make up the wings of the butterfly.
The first Guillermo del Toro film since Blade II (2002) to not have cinematography by Guillermo Navarro.
Universal wanted to release the film around Halloween, and since he wouldn't finish the film until December 2014 or January 2015, the release date had to be set for October 2015.
Divya Puri, who is a stylist, and has seen the movie, noted a few stylistic errors. For one, in the house that Edith moved into when she got married, why were there not any staff to take care of that massive house? Also, the dog that is seen in the initial part of the film, mysteriously disappears later. And the lady's rescuer is stabbed in the chest, it is supposed to be non fatal. Yet, he is stabbed twice under the left armpit and blood is seen spurting which indicates an artery puncture and then in the liver, which would have led to him bleeding to death. Yet, he survives. This is unexplained in the film.
When her heart is stolen by a seductive stranger, a young woman is swept away to a house atop a mountain of blood-red clay: a place ï¬lled with secrets that will haunt her forever. Between desire and darkness, between mystery and madness, lies the truth behind Crimson Peak.
Set in the year 1901, Crimson Peak is given a stylized, contemporary gothic feel through del Toro's mesmeric visual style. You will be swept away to a terrifying destination like no other, where the snow bleeds red and every corner hides a phantom that will linger in the mind long after the film is over.
Young Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) is an aspiring author living with her father, Sir Carter Cushing, in Buffalo, New York, at the dawn of the 20th century. She has grown up haunted by the loss of her mother, quite literally. Cursed with the power to communicate with the souls of the dead, Edith receives a mysterious warning from beyond the grave: "Beware of Crimson Peak."
An outsider in high society thanks to her willful imagination, Edith finds herself torn between two rival suitors: her childhood companion, Dr. Alan McMichael (Hunnam), a brilliant intellect who stimulates her mind, or the irresistibly seductive Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston), another outsider who embraces Edith for who she truly is and steals her heart.
When her father dies in mysterious circumstances, Thomas sweeps Edith away to his luxurious family estate: Allerdale Hallâa vast gothic mansion in the remote English hills, alive with mystery and danger. Set atop a subterranean mine, the blood-red clay seeps through the snow and stains the mountainside, earning it the name "Crimson Peak."
But Thomas and Edith are not alone. The towering gothic house is also home to Thomas' sister, Lucille (Chastain)âa mysterious and alluring woman whose affection to Edith hides a secret agenda. As Edith settles into her new life, Crimson Peak takes on a life of its own as she is visited by nightmarish visions and crimson ghostsâbut the true monster of Crimson Peak is made of flesh and blood...
Will Edith decipher the mystery of her visions before it is too late? Will Thomas choose to save his wife or protect his family? How far will Dr. McMichael go to fight for the love of his life? And what will happen when Lucille's dark past catches up to her? As love turns to madness and nightmare becomes reality, everyone who sets foot onto Crimson Peak is in grave danger.
Edith discovers some wax roll recordings in an alcove and later, takes the house elevator to the basement. There, she comes upon a trunk containing a wax roll player, some letters and other mysterious items. She plays these recordings and finds out that Sharpe and Lucille have been conning wealthy women for years, across countries and continents. She also discovers that she is being poisioned by the tea that Lucille gives her. More than that, Lucille is also found out to have killed a baby.
Much later, Alan comes to Allerdale Hall and tries to rescue an ailing Edith. Lucille stabs him just as they are about to leave. But then, Sharpe asks McMichael where he should stab him with a non-fatal wound so that he can play dead, while trying to effect Edith's escape. When forcing Edith to sign her inheritance papers, Lucille reveals that she had murdered Edith's father. Edith then stabs Lucille with the pen that her father had gifted her. But it is a non-fatal would. Lucille then fatally wounds Sharpe and then in a finale sequence, she tries to kill Edith, who finally kills her with two blows to the head with a shovel. Sharpe's ghose had distracted Lucille and so, when the latter falls dead, Edith bids her final goodbye to Sharpe's apparition.
Crimson Peak traces the journey of hoary horrors and sinister secrets. Here's what the Tweetizens had to say about the film..
Tom Hiddleston was fine as hell in #CrimsonPeak. All the creepy is worth it to stare into those baby blues all day long...
At the most , One time watch but only for movie goers interested in Thrillers!@!
Tom Hiddlestone and Jessica Chastain are fabulous in this film;he costumes were amazing. The atmosphere really added to the somber story and my one gripe would be the CGI used for the ghosts.Crimson Peak is a slight but gorgeous movie without a genre. It doesn't quite have the scares of a horror movie or the emotion of a romance, but maybe that doesn't matter.