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What Is O Willow Waly, the Song from Haunting of Bly Manor?

The first trailer for The Haunting of Bly Manor, unsurprisingly, didn’t give away many specifics about the show or its spooky twists. But the eerie song playing in the background of that ambiguous teaser was, as it turns out, telling us a lot more about the show than we could’ve ever realized at the time. “O Willow Waly,” the song in question, is a significant choice for a couple of reasons, so here’s a quick primer.

The song “O Willow Waly”—written by George Auric and Paul Dehn—was originally created for the 1961 film The Innocents. This is meaningful because The Innocents is perhaps the most famous screen adaptation of Henry James’s novella The Turn of the Screw, which is also the source material for The Haunting of Bly Manor. A psychological horror movie directed by Jack Clayton, The Innocents follows a younger governess in command of two orphans and turns into satisfied their nation property is haunted. Bly Manor follows that very same free define, although it additionally incorporates a number of of James’s different novellas and quick tales.

“O Willow Waly” is memorably performed on a music field throughout The Innocents, however in Bly Manor it recurs in a number of totally different scenes all through the season. The lyrics to the music are the very first phrases we hear within the present, as Carla Gugino’s mysterious narrator recites them in a voiceover. Let’s check out the lyrics:

We lay my love and I beneath the weeping willow
But now alone I lie and weep beside the tree

Singing “Oh willow waly” by the tree that weeps with me
Singing “Oh willow waly” until my lover return to me

We lay my love and I beneath the weeping willow
A damaged coronary heart have I. Oh willow I die, oh willow I die

The full significance of the music, and its mournful lyrics a few misplaced lover, will not turn out to be clear till the finale. But it recurs all through the present, primarily in refined methods. it is sung, whistled, and hummed by Miles, Flora, and Peter Quint in several scenes. Initially, the plain rationalization is that the music is supposed to echo Rebecca Jessel, the kids’s former governess who seemingly dies by suicide after being deserted by her lover, Quint.

EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

But as soon as Gugino’s narrator is revealed to be an older version of Jamie—whose romance with the show’s protagonist, Dani, turns into central to the collection—the music takes on a fair clearer which means. To save Flora and Miles from being completely possessed by the ghosts of Bly Manor, Dani confronts the manor’s most fearsome ghost of all, Viola, aka the Lady within the Lake. Dani invitations Viola into herself to spare the kids, and Viola accepts, turning into part of Dani.

Dani and Jamie are in a position to leave Bly and begin a life collectively, whereas the Wingrave household transfer abroad. But Dani is rarely the identical once more. She feels the burden of Viola’s presence always, and feels a way of impending doom that she will be able to by no means absolutely shake. She is aware of, instinctively, that in the end she can be consumed by Viola’s darkness, however with Jamie’s assist she’s in a position to stave it off and revel in not less than a decade of happiness.

the haunting of bly manor l to r victoria pedretti as dani and amelia eve as jamie in the haunting of bly manor cr eike schroternetflix © 2020

EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

Finally, after she realizes Viola is turning into a menace to Jamie, Dani returns to Bly Manor and drowns herself within the haunted lake, the place she takes over from Viola as the brand new Lady within the Lake. Unlike Viola, she’s a benign spirit, and by no means harms anybody—however like Viola, her recollections fade over time, and so she has no reminiscence of her life with Jamie. The actuality of who Dani was solely lives on “in the memory of the woman who loved her most.”

So… that is devastating. And by the tip of the finale, it is very clear why Jamie opens her voiceover with the lyrics to “O Willow Waly,” which completely describe her life with out Dani.

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