Wonderland: Gothic to premiere on Sky Arts – November 2023
The Wonderland factual television series returns to Sky Arts this month with a new four-part series, Wonderland: Gothic. The series begins on Tuesday 21st November, on Sky Arts at 9pm.
The programme explores the phenomenon of Gothic and its themes of darkness, mystery, romance and menace through the mediums of literature, film, art and architecture. The works discussed in this series include, among many others, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1797-1851), Dracula by Bram Stoker (1847–1912), Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1818-1848), The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989). The American horror movies The Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Get Out (2017) are also examined, as are the extraordinary paintings of German artist Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840).
Episode one begins with a general overview of the characteristics of Gothic and explores 18th-century Gothic. It then goes on to look at the influence of the ‘Female Gothic’, primarily through Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. This episode also looks at the film Rebecca, powerfully depicted by Alfred Hitchcock.
The second episode looks at vampires, werewolves and zombies and their shape-shifting nature, as reflected in the literature of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire. Horror, including The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) and ghost stories, such as those by M.R. James (1862-1936) is investigated. There is also a look at the influence of Augustus Pugin (1812-1852) and John Ruskin (1819-1900) on Gothic Revival architecture.
Episode three looks at more recent work, including books by Angela Carter (1940-1992), Hilary Mantel (1952-2022), and Tony Morrison (1931-2019), particularly her 1987 novel Beloved. This episode looks at ‘Black Gothic’ and the ‘Gothic outsider’, the latter focusing on Steig Larsson’s (1954-2024) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Stephen King’s (1947-) extensive catalogue of work. The last part of this episode discusses Gothic films, including Frankenstein and Dracula, works produced by Hammer Films and directors including Tim Burton (1958-) and Guillermo del Toro (1964-).
The final episode opens with a look at ‘Imperial Gothic’, such as the work of Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) and Joseph Conrad (1857-1924). It goes on to discuss Gothic art, including works by William Blake (1757-1827), J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), Paul Nash (1889-1946), and others. The Gothic Revival in architecture is explored, and the buildings discussed include Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham, London, which was built by Horace Walpole (1717-1797) and St Pancras Station, also in London.
There is so much that will be discussed during these four episodes. Lovers of Daphne du Maurier’s work, and particularly her most iconic novel, Rebecca, as well as those with a broader interest in Gothic, will be fascinated by this new series.
Ann Willmore, November 2023.