William J. Locke’s story “Ladies in Lavender” (1916) doesn’t have a picnic. Charles Dance thought better, an in his screenplay, includes at picnic on the beach in a cove on the coast of Cornwall.

The story is simple. Ursula and Janet, spinster sisters, well on in years, live in a cottage by the sea near the small village near St. Madoc. One morning after a storm, they find a young man washed ashore. They nurse him back to health, Ursula treating him as if he was a son she never had. Janet, the older sister, is more realistic. Andrea [Marowski] speaks is Polish but speaks German, too. He is actually a gifted violinist, and when Olga Danilof, an artist on holiday, takes him up, he gets the chance to play with her brother the virtuoso Danilof. In Locke’s story, Andrea runs off, and that’s that. No thanks, offered, none received. In Dance’s screenplay, Andrea runs off but reconciles with the sisters. He invites them to  attend his recital in London. There is much more to tell, and though it is a short story, it is a very long film.

In the film, Dance’s picnic is another step in Andrea’s restoration. Ursula and Janet ‘s motive is to get Andrea healthy by having him swim in the water in which he almost drowned. While they look on, he pretends drowning again. Ha, ha. Though they bring along a wicker, and food and drink are spread out on the blanket, it’s untouched.

Featured Image: Charles Dance. Ladies in Lavender (2004). Screenplay by Dance based on William J. Locke’s story (1916). UK Film Council. Baker Street.
Ursula Widdington (Judi Dench), Janet Widdington (Maggie Smith) have a picnic while watching Andrea (Daniel Brühl) swim in the cove.

See: William J. Locke. Far-Away Stories. London: John Lane Co., 1916