Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Finn Atkins, Chloe Pirrie, Charley Murphy, Adam Nagaitis, Jonathan Pryce, Mark Frost, June Watson, Megan Parkinson, Matt Adams, Kris Mochrie, Luke Newberry, David Walmsley, Rory Fleck Byrne, Rebecca Callard, Joe Armstrong, Thomas Howes, Thomas Nelstrop, Karen Shaw, Jonathan Carley, Hugh Simon, Freddie Meredith, Gracie Kelly, David Prosho, Paul Knyman.
To be considered a writer, one may have to put up with being considered concealed from the world, to be unremarkable in appearance to the point where many could not point you out in a line up and the recognition that your very disguise of obscurity, of hiding away from the world is what drives your creation. To Walk Invisible is a practise that many may have to take to achieve either literary success or to at least get the worlds out of their heads and be seen as having existed; in an occupation which is the closest thing to mimicking death, to tread along the path without being noticed is a skill highly prized.
For women from the dawn of the printed word in English until even the start of the 20th Century, to be a writer was not without its risks, men were judged by their work, women because of their gender. From the prestigious works of poets such as Emilia Lanyer in the 16th Century onwards, to battle both the demons that drive people to spend their days writing and the assumptions of others based up gender is the most ridiculous of constructs. Yet judgement was always made and for the Brontë sisters, Anne, Charlotte and Emily, judgement of their gender was something they tried very hard to avoid.
To Walk Invisible is to be seen as an important film about the life and times in which these three sisters lived, along with their self destructive brother, also a very talented poet and their father, the town of Howarth is a shrine to their very existence and the film is another important part of that body of work and their contribution to English Literature. The film centres on the build up to the reveal that their work was indeed written by three separate women and not the single man they had portrayed it as to the publisher who took them on.
It is important to recognise the achievement not only of their work but to celebrate how they managed to break into the established world of novel writing, how they emulated the great female writers before them but how they laid down a precedent to every woman writer since, to believe absolutely in the story, to never again have to be in the shadows just because of gender.
With superb performances by Finn Atkins, Chloe Pirrie and Charley Murphy as the three sisters and Jonathan Pryce being immaculate as the patriarch of the family, To Walk Invisible neatly captures the essence of the Brontë family, the mystery of the moors on which they lived and died and the price they paid in health and the loss of their brother to laudanum, drink and his own shadows.
A wonderfully adapted piece of television which is to be seen as compliment to films versions of Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre.
Ian D. Hall