login | register

Burke and Hare

No job too small. No body too big. No questions asked. 

Year: 2010 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by John Landis 
Starring: Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Isla Fisher, Ronnie Corbett  
An image from Burke and Hare

The year is 1828, and the University of Edinburgh is leading the way in anatomical research. Dr Knox, the head of Edinburgh’s medical fraternity needs dead bodies for dissection, and he needs them fast. Enter William Burke (Pegg) and William Hare (Serkis), two impoverished Irish entrepreneurs who are only too happy to fill this gap in the market. Striking a deal with Dr Knox, Burke and Hare receive a respectable sum of money for each fresh corpse they are able to deliver through any means necessary. This film is a serial killer comedy, with the narrative following Burke and Hare’s elaborate and unusual methods of acquiring fresh corpses. As their business venture succeeds, the bodies pile up and so do the pay cheques, transforming Burke and Hare into wealthy middle class gentlemen. However, their problems are far from over when the law-enforcing Captain McLintock (Corbett) starts to investigate the disappearances of their victims.

Burke and Hare is a dark comedy, with some well-choreographed slapstick moments giving the film an irresistible charm. With its gothic backdrop, theatrical gore, and a cameo from the iconic Christopher Lee, the film evokes a style akin to the early cult Hammer Horror films, encapsulating the glory days of British filmmaking. Based on real events, the film succeeds in transforming mass murderers into real characters, who you can empathise with, laugh at and enjoy watching. Through Pegg and Serkis’s strong characterisation, Burke and Hare succeeds in being more than a comedy and explores poignant themes such as morality, poverty, friendship and sacrifice. The ironic relationship between murder and modern medicine forces the viewer to question the boundaries of morality, and where we would be today without people like Burke and Hare.

Grace Johnson

More Information | Back to Previous Schedule | This Season  |  BBFC Classification Guidelines

Screenings of this film:

2010/2011 Spring Term (35mm)
2010/2011 Spring Term (35mm)