Basil (film)

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Two men and a woman.
DVD cover
Directed by Radha Bharadwaj
Produced by Radha Bharadwaj
Written by Radha Bharadwaj
Based on Basil
by Wilkie Collins
Starring Christian Slater
Jared Leto
Claire Forlani
Music by Richard G Mitchell
Cinematography David Johnson
Edited by Craig Nisker
Showcareer Limited Production
Distributed by Buena Vista International
Release date
  • 22 July 1998 (1998-07-22)
Running time
113 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Basil is a 1998 British historical drama film directed by Radha Bharadwaj and starring Christian Slater, Jared Leto, Claire Forlani and Derek Jacobi. It was based on the 1852 novel Basil by Victorian author Wilkie Collins. The adaptation is by Bharadwaj.


Basil (Jared Leto) recalls his younger days when he and his ennobled British family live at their Cornwall estate of Windermere Hall. His father, Frederick (Derek Jacobi), is a firm believer that people should know their place in society. Clara Fairfax is an orphaned daughter of Basil's father's friend, and comes to live with Basil's family. Basil's older brother, Ralph, is, for his transgression with a local girl, banished to a distant, derelict family manor in Yorkshire. Later, Basil is home from Oxford University when he is rescued by a London merchant, John Mannion (Christian Slater). Basil comes to think of John as his mate.

While staying at his family's London home, Basil attempts to reconnect with John, and instead meets Julia Sherwin (Claire Forlani), the daughter of John's employer. Basil pursues her and she rejects him, but shortly before Basil is to come of age and inherit money and property, he secretly weds her. Julia sets her intentions on taking Windermere Hall in exchange for her affections.

Basil finds Julia in bed with John; Basil stomps on him until he cannot get up from the street. John disappears. Basil tells his father of the marriage, and is banished. Basil makes his way to his brother in Yorkshire. It is there that Basil receives a letter from John telling him of the scheme involving Julia to avenge the death of John's pregnant sister (by Ralph) after Ralph was banished years before.

Julia is at Windermere; Basil helps deliver her newborn baby. John, with his face wrapped in cloth, arrives. Julia dies. John leaves the child behind when Basil chases him towards a cliff with a zulfiqar sword. During the scuffle, John's face is revealed, and he sees his disfigured reflection in the sword; he takes his own life by falling off the seaside cliff.

Basil takes the newborn child and escapes to Ireland, naming her Clara, after his childhood friend Clara. There, Basil has returned to the storytelling that he had started when he was a youth; they come to London when the stories are to be published. Walking along a pond, Basil and Clara come upon the older Clara, who encourages Basil to make amends with his father, who is sitting nearby. The elderly Frederick explains that he loved Basil's dead mother, and that the banishments were the result of having seen mirrored in his sons his own treatment of his dead wife. Basil and Clara make London their home.


  • Christian Slater as John Mannion
  • Jared Leto as Basil
  • Claire Forlani as Julia Sherwin
  • Derek Jacobi as Frederick, Basil's father
  • Crispin Bonham-Carter as Ralph
  • Sarah Hadland as Windermere Hall Chambermaid
  • Stephanie Bagshaw as Emma Mannion, John's sister
  • Jenny Downham as Anna, Ralph's wife
  • Ann Louise Grimshaw as Knitting Nurse
  • Carli Harris as young Clara Fairfax, Basil's cousin
  • Joanna John as Agnes, Basil's mother
  • Georgiana Johnson as young Clara, Basil's daughter
  • Jackson Leach as young Basil
  • Glenn Marks as Tramp
  • Hannah Morris as Regent's Park House Maid
  • Christopher Owen as Mr. Mannion, John's father
  • Rachel Pickup as Clara Fairfax, Basil's cousin
  • David Ross as Mr. Sherwin, Julia's merchant father
  • Matthew Steer as young Ralph
  • Maisie Tomlinson as a Maid in the Sherwin household
  • Michael Lieber as Boy with fishing rod
  • Jack Wild as Peddler
  • Guy Witcher as young John Mannion


The director’s cut for Basil was selected twice to be the closing night film for the Toronto International Film Festival’s Special Presentation series. The film was pulled from the festival screening at the last minute, foregoing an opportunity to screen at one of the world’s premier film festivals.[1] Basil was also chosen for a prime slot at the Los Angeles Film Festival.[2] In February 1998, Basil was screened at the American Film Market.[3]


Basil’s financiers released their cut of the film, complete with their choice of sound, design and music. This is the version that was subsequently released on cable, and then in videotape and DVD.

The film was released theatrically on 4 March 1998, it was released on videocassette on 1 February 2000 by Buena Vista Home Entertainment.[4] On 4 March 2003, Buena Vista Home Entertainment released a DVD for region 1;[5] a DVD for region 2 was released on 12 April 2005 by ILC Video.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bharadwaj, Radha. "Basil". Closet Land. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 2010-07-02. 
  2. ^ "Radha Bharadwaj". Closet Land. Archived from the original on 18 January 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "Basil (1998) – Misc Notes". TCM. Retrieved 2010-07-02. 
  4. ^ "Basil (VHS)". Retrieved 2010-07-02. 
  5. ^ LeVasseur, Andrea. "Basil (Walt Disney Video)". Allmovie. Retrieved 2010-07-02. 
  6. ^ "Basil (ILC Video)". Allmovie. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2010-07-02. 

External links[edit]