17 user 1 critic

The Thirteenth Tale (2013)

Follows aging novelist Vida Winter, who enlists a young writer to finally tell the story of her life including her mysterious childhood spent in Angelfield House, which burned to the ground when she was a teenager.


James Kent


Christopher Hampton, Diane Setterfield (based on novel)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Janet Amsden Janet Amsden ... The Missus
Alice Barlow Alice Barlow ... Moira
Isabel Barlow Isabel Barlow ... Young Margaret
Emily Beecham ... Isabelle March
Antonia Clarke ... Young Emmeline
Olivia Colman ... Margaret Lea
Jacqueline Davis Jacqueline Davis ... Judith
Tom Goodman-Hill ... Dr. Mawsley
Lizzie Hopley Lizzie Hopley ... Theodora Mawsley
Michael Jibson ... Charlie Angelfield
Adam Long ... Ambrose Proctor
Steven Mackintosh ... Dr. Clifton
Madeleine Power ... Emmeline & Adeline, age 9
Robert Pugh ... John The Dig
Vanessa Redgrave ... Vida Winter
Learn more

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The story of the residents of Angelfield House and follows ageing novelist Vida Winter, who enlists a young writer to finally tell the story of her life - including her mysterious childhood spent in Angelfield House, which burned to the ground when she was a teenager. Written by Diane Setterfield

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Mystery


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Did You Know?


Vanessa Redgrave portrays Vida Winter in this film, and her sister, Lynn Redgrave, portrays the part of Vida Winter in the audiobook by Diane Setterfield, on which this film is based. See more »

User Reviews

Well crafted tale but lacking in real suspense or chills
3 June 2014 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

This film got positive reviews when it was screened around the Christmas period last year, however I sat on it for ages since I was conscious that being a good drama around that time of year doesn't always translate into it being a good drama in and of itself. The ghostly tale of death and mystery is told by an older woman approaching her own death to a younger woman commissioned to write her story – it is a standard setup and from here the story is told across many years in a patient and reasonably engaging manner. Indeed, the telling of the tale is where the film's strengths lie because it is undeniably a well crafted affair. The casting, the locations, the production values and the general maturity of the whole film are all such that it feels much better than it actually is. Suffice to say I can understand why it went down quite well at the end of the festive period, because it does stand out as a classy and adult affair, in contrast to the lighter entertainment fare that would have dominated the previous week or so.

I did find it pretty good thanks to this, with a steady approach and decent tone, but yet I never really got drawn into it in the way I would have liked for a serious drama and well-told story. There are a few moments of suspense and chills here, but generally it doesn't build into anything bigger or more dramatic – the same steady approach that helps to found it, also undoes it in this regard. It has its merits and there is a certain satisfaction to it but it never really gets beyond the quality of its build to become something where you don't see the craftsmanship because of how strong the actual story is.

The cast is part of that quality build and I did enjoy both Colman and Redgrave; the rest of the cast also has good quality turns – although Game of Thrones fans may find some of the casting a bit distracting! Direction and design of the film is of a high quality as I say – it looks good and feels weighty throughout. Shame that the delivery of the material didn't build better and didn't provide more in the way of chills and emotions. Perhaps it was too much going on in the small space available (with a couple of stories here) but it does feel lacking as a whole, even if the quality of the build is enjoyable to see.

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Official Sites:

MovieScore Media [Sweden]





Release Date:

30 December 2013 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Thirteenth Tale See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Heyday Films See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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