Video: ‘The Ash Tree,’ by M.R. James

A charmingly creepy period piece, the BBC’s half-hour, 1975 adaptation of the classic M.R. James ghost story “The Ash Tree” opens with a long pastoral sequence — a figure on horseback, riding through bucolic English countryside.

The rider is one Sir Richard, a young lordling come to take up his residence in the family estate — a grand country pile replete with groundskeepers, housekeepers, farm workers, and all the trappings of the entitled, 17th century aristocratic class.

It of course goes awry at this point. There are shadowy figures appearing at the window. Birds and livestock are found dead in the fields. The servants and the local parson alike are quick to make not-so-subtle asides about pestilence, unhallowed graves and suchlike.

Oh, and the obligatory whispery voices accompanied by dated analogue synth effects — yep, it’s ’70s BBC TV, folks!

The video is age-restricted on YouTube, which means you can only watch it on their platform.

Or, watch it here at The Fabulist, albeit with French subtitles:

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