Friday, June 17, 2011


Victoria Rigby as The Lady of Shalott

"Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And around about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott."

J. W. Waterhouse's "The Lady of Shalott"

Anyone who comes to this blog can tell I love the paintings of  John William Waterhouse, and anyone who has read me for any length of time knows I also love Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "The Lady of Shalott".

Thanks to the blog "Medieval Muse" (on my sidebar), I have just learned there is a short film dramatization of the beloved poem. Inspiration for the visual imagery came from the many Pre-Raphaelite paintings that the poem inspired, but most especially the paintings of Waterhouse. Filmed by WAG Screen in 2009 in celebration of the bicentenary of Tennyson's birth, the DVD also includes a reading of the poem by Tennyson (played by actor Ben Poole) to an after-dinner audience at Christmas 1856. 

From the three very short trailers and a few still shots I could find, I think I can concur that Victoria Rigby is the perfect actress chosen to play the role. And the filmmakers went to great lengths to re-create her dress, her boat, her loom and her tower room.

The DVD also includes a conversation between Poole and Grace Timmins from the Tennyson Research Centre, and a music video by Dante Ferrara called La Donna di Shalott.

Although I think $28.00 is spendy for such a short film, I have decided to purchase it because 50% of the proceeds right now will be going to the family of Stephanie Piña, who writes the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood blog (

Piña's husband was recently in a serious motorcycle accident. Most of the bones in his foot and ankle were crushed, requiring multiple surgeries, and he will lose some motion. All of this happened while their 13-year-old son was recovering from a procedure to have titanium plates in both his legs. The money will go toward their medical bills, as her husband is self-employed and they do not have insurance.

Here's the link to purchase the DVD:

(Be sure to click on the right country or the DVD you receive will not be playable!

"Out flew the web and floated wide -
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
'The curse has come upon me,' cried
The Lady of Shalott."

For those of you who don't know the poem, here is a synopsis: The Lady of Shalott lives in an island castle in a river which flows to Camelot, but little is known about her by the local farmers. She has been cursed, and so she must constantly weave a magic web without looking directly out at the world. Instead, she looks into a mirror which reflects the busy road and the people of Camelot which pass by her island. One day, "bold Sir Lancelot" rides past, and is seen by the lady. She stops weaving and looks out her window toward Camelot, bringing about the curse. She leaves her tower, finds a boat upon which she writes her name, and floats down the river to Camelot. She dies before arriving at the palace. Among the knights and ladies who see her is Lancelot, who thinks she is lovely:

"But Lancelot mused a little space
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."


PS - If you'd like to hear Loreena McKennitt's excellent performance of this poem, check out these two videos: (live performance by McKennitt at the Juno Awards, short version). (long version, still shots only).


Kath said...

How lovely! I have Loreena McKennitt's CD which includes that song and The Lady floating on the water hangs in my hallway.
I think Victoria Rigby does The Lady proud.

Rowan said...

I bought the DVD of the Lady of Shallot a few days ago but haven't watched it yet. Like you I love the poem and the Waterhouse paintings. I have the Loreena McKennit CD too

Mary said...

Just going back through my list and find you are still posting - this is a nice surprise Julie!

So very sorry about the flooding in your area - what terrible weather we all seem to be getting. The tornado that hit Raleigh was so awful - fortunately it missed our street but others were not so lucky. Now we have this ongoing mighty heatwave.............Summer came very early.

Just back from a wonderful trip to England and Scotland. Working like mad in the garden. So happy to hear you have been digging in the dirt too - know you will enjoy your new plants. Those Cedar Waxwings are the most beautiful birds aren't they? We have only had a flock stop by our garden once - I was amazed!

Hope all is well with you, Dan and your family. Would love to have you stop by the blog.

Hugs - Mary

Mary said...

................oh, I forgot to comment on your post, got so excited seeing you back.

Love this poem and Loreena McKennitt's version (of course love everything by her) set to her music. That concert I attended a few years back was awesome.

Lovely paintings - so romantic!

gma said...

Solstice greetings to you dear Celtic lady. Perhaps you could get some larger containers to put your plants in and transplant them yourself. Some years when it is too hot we use pots & move them around as needed out of the heat.
Blessing to you dear one.

Celtic Sprite said...

Thanks Julie for sharing this news... I got acquainted of this Film and support... I have experienced an accident a couple of years ago too… faith and prayers are the keys to strength our soul… I have just reposted the news in order to help with the raising!
bliss and blessings ☼

innocence and magic said...

I fell in love with John Williams Waterhouse and all the other Pre-Raphaelites while taking a course in college. You have a beautiful blog!

Michele said...

I, too, adore Waterhouse, Lady Shallot and your gorgeous blog! I haven't visited in a while and have missed you!