The Butterfly Tattoo (2009) Poster

The Butterfly Tattoo (2009)

  • Rate: 5.4/10 total 331 votes 
  • Genre: Drama | Romance | Thriller
  • Runtime: 101 min
  • Filming Location: Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, UK
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The Butterfly Tattoo (2009)


The Butterfly Tattoo 2009tt1032747.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: The Butterfly Tattoo (2009)
  • Rate: 5.4/10 total 331 votes 
  • Genre: Drama | Romance | Thriller
  • Runtime: 101 min
  • Filming Location: Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, UK
  • Budget: €250,000(estimated)
  • Director: Phil Hawkins
  • Stars: Duncan Stuart, Jessica Blake and Aidan Magrath
  • Original Music By: Richard Bodgers   
  • Soundtrack: Stronger than Any
  • Plot Keyword: Based On Novel

Writing Credits By:

    (in alphabetical order)

  • Stephen Potts  screenplay
  • Philip Pullman  novel

Known Trivia

  • An important aspect of the production is to educate newcomers to the film making scene. Every department has a number of trainees with little or no experience who will get a chance to help out with a real film.
  • The film’s entire budget ($400,000) was raised by publicly selling shares. The movie was fully funded within two days.
  • Producer Rik Visser and associate producer Ryan den Rooijen were editors on the translated Dutch version of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy. Pullman also wrote the novel The Butterfly Tattoo (2008), on which the film is based.
  • The director handpicked unsigned and upcoming bands from Oxford for the soundtrack to the film. A “Battle Of The Bands” night saw shortlisted bands audition for the chance to appear in the Jericho Tavern scene in the film. The band “A Silent Film” were chosen to perform.
  • The film was cast through open casting sessions in Manchester and Oxford, UK. Actors could submit their details through the official website before being asked to audition. The director and Philip Pullman both agreed they wanted new and unknown actors to play the lead roles “Chris” and “Jenny”.

Plot: "Chris Marshall met the girl he was going to kill on a warm night in early June, when one of the colleges… See more »  »

Story: "Chris Marshall met the girl he was going to kill on a warm night in early June, when one of the colleges in Oxford was holding its summer ball." A chance meeting with Jenny at an Oxford party leaves seventeen-year-old Chris with hope for a summer romance – and no premonition of trouble. Busy with his job and soon in love with Jenny, whose cheerful surface belies the dark uncertainty of her past, Chris misses all the signs of danger. Before he knows it, he's caught in the sinister web of a criminal whose desire for revenge crushes those who stand in his way.Written by Philip Pullman  


Synopsis: Director Phil Hawkins teams with screenwriter Stephen Potts to adapt Golden Compass author Philip Pullman’s novel detailing an adolescent romance gone horribly awry. When seventeen year old Chris (Duncan Stuart) and lovely lass Jenny (Jessica Blake) first met at an Oxford college ball, the ruffled later was still in the run from her ex-boyfriend Piers (Dan Morgan) – a tyrannical aristocrat. But Chris’ past hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing either, and as the young couple enters tenuously into an innocent courtship, a series of flashbacks reveal why their romance may be headed for tragedy [D-Man2010]

Chris and Jenny are teenage lovers from the gritty side of modern Oxford, England in this adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Philip Pullman (author of The Golden Compass). Chris, a naive lad, suspended between school and college, and Jenny, a free spirit fleeing a traumatized childhood. They are caught in the crossfire, as Carson, a gangster gunman with a grudge, comes looking for Chris’s boss, to avenge events from long ago. Heady romance gives way to growing suspense as Carson closes in until, in a final eruption of violence, the star-crossed lovers are sundered forever. [D-Man2010]


FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • Ryan den Rooijen known as associate producer
  • Wesley Kloppenburg known as producer
  • Penelope Merrill known as line producer
  • Jolies Van Emburg known as producer
  • Rik Visser known as producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Duncan Stuart known as Chris Marshall
  • Jessica Blake known as Jenny
  • Aidan Magrath known as Barry Miller
  • Christopher Dane known as Inspector Fletcher
  • Dan Morgan known as Piers Hawthorne
  • Shazadee Beghum known as Maria
  • Peter Easterbrook known as Ollie
  • Alvin Addo-Quaye known as Derek
  • Richard Hollingworth known as Dave
  • Debra Baker known as Sue Miller
  • Claire Ford known as Diane
  • Antony da Silva known as Tommy Sanchez
  • Abigail Tarttelin known as Fenella
  • Jonathan Higgs known as Romeo
  • Simon Brandon known as Mercutio (as Simon Nuckley)
  • Steve Garry known as Carson's brother
  • Alan Medcroft known as Toby
  • Lydia Chapman known as Female Student
  • Sarah Winter known as Student in cafe (as Sara Winter)
  • David Beaumont known as Policeman at boat
  • Ruth Curtis known as Neighbour
  • Michael Dacre known as Mr. Marshall
  • Oly Dempster known as Armed Police Officer
  • Joanne Gale known as Juliet
  • Christian Gill known as Guy at Youth Hostel reception
  • Phil Hawkins known as Drunken Partygoer
  • Barbara Joslyn known as Jenny's mother
  • Matthew Kirk known as Detective at Jenny's Squat
  • Clare Leahy known as Mrs. Marshall
  • James MacLaren known as Charles
  • Scott McDonald known as Sean Miller
  • Jurgen Schwarz known as Armed Police Officer / Uniformed Officer
  • Rob Talbot known as Police Detective
  • Dominic Waldron known as Boy in Youth Hostel
  • Will Welch known as Armed Police Officer
  • Sarah Whitham known as Police Woman (as Sarah Jane Warren)
  • Francesco Bori known as Young Clubber (uncredited)



Supporting Department

Makeup Department:
  • Leanne Cable known as makeup designer
  • Natalie O'Connor known as assistant makeup artist

Art Department:

  • Holly Bailey known as production buyer
  • Tom Ellis known as art department assistant
  • Anna Jacobs known as stand-by art director
  • Sally Robinson known as art department assistant
  • Lara Scott-Thomas known as art department assistant
  • Richard Symons known as construction coordinator
  • Rowena Vickerman known as assistant carpenter
  • Luuk Visser known as carpenter




Production Companies:

  • Dynamic Entertainment DEH

Other Companies:

  • Candy Studios  sound post-production
  • MJ Knights Military Effects  armourer
  • Ricall Licensing  soundtrack


  • Cinema Epoch (2009) (USA) (theatrical)
  • Movie Bank (2009) (Netherlands) (DVD) (rental)
  • Video Film Express (2010) (Netherlands) (DVD) (retail)



Other Stuff

Special Effects:

  • Red Frog

Visual Effects by:

  • David Loveridge known as visual effects supervisor

Release Date:

  • USA 17 April 2009 (limited)
  • USA 2 June 2009 (DVD premiere)
  • UK 30 October 2009 (limited)
  • Netherlands 8 December 2009 (DVD premiere)
  • UK 1 November 2010 (DVD premiere)



Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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Posted on March 30, 2012 by Harry in Movies | Tags: , , , .


  1. Phil Hawkins (phil-797) from United Kingdom
    30 Mar 2012, 1:30 pm

    From: – The witch rarely gets to goto premieres of any kind, so the UK premiere of The Butterfly Tattoomade a welcome change. It was on last night at Cornerhouse inManchester, as part of a short film festival, and whereas it wasn'tfull, it was very busy. They moved the screening to cinema one, which Iassume was to accommodate more people.

    The film? It was good. Very good. I'd heard it was very good, and thenI read a review somewhere which claimed it wasn't, particularly. So wewent with open minds, and Daughter was warned that it wouldn't endhappily. The script follows Philip Pullman's book pretty closely, soyou do get the bad end at the beginning, so to speak.

    It's Romeo and Juliet, really. Some very intense love when boy meetsgirl, and then lots of confusion as they lose touch. Lots of searching,to a backdrop of someone else's criminal behaviour, which eventuallycomes to have a bearing on the lives of Chris and Jenny as well.

    You can tell that the film was filmed on a budget, but I wish morefilms were, if this is the result. There is nothing that would havebeen better for more money. I was particularly struck by one of thelove scenes, which was blissfully quiet. In a more commercial film thecouple would have found they were accompanied in the bedroom by a largeorchestra. Here, there was nothing. No sound at all. Just as it shouldbe.

    The screening was followed by a Q&A with the director Phil Hawkins andsome of the cast and crew, with more crew members in the audience. Iwas going to say that they tried to save on money by having many ofthem be both cast and crew, but that's silly, as nobody got paid. Isuppose it just shows how versatile they are. Who'd have thought thatthe drunk was actually the director himself?

    The questions were along the lines of, well I don't remember, becausethey were so technically knowledgeable that I didn't even understandthe questions, let alone the answers. I did get that they could onlyafford one camera, though. And it rained for the ball scene, and theyhad to hurry before the extras all died of hypothermia.

    It was all done in five weeks, and I hope that cinemas all over theworld will see the light and buy The Butterfly Tattoo. Philip Pullmanwas right to let someone young buy the rights to his book for peanuts.Sometimes enthusiasm will do more than years of experience and loads offinance. And perhaps I'm just put out that I didn't act fast enough tobuy a share or two in the film.

  2. SjaakadeliC from Netherlands
    30 Mar 2012, 1:30 pm

    My friend brought this movie over on DVD for a movie night. I had noidea what to expect and had never heard of the novel it was based off.

    I thought of butterfly as in the butterfly effect. But still i watchedthis movie with no expectations. As picky as i sometimes get aboutmovies i was blown away by the impact of this movie had on me. Such abeautiful and sad story. Now even after a week of watching the movie iam still thinking about it(this doesn't happen to me very often) as inhow much impact this made on my personal feelings. I watched Kick-Assthis week in the cinema, good movie but after the movie was done youstill have good laugh about it that evening but the next day i didn'teven think about it anymore. With butterfly tattoo it was different forme.

    Also i had never heard from the actors but i also thought they had goodchemistry together(the 2 main characters), but the guy who played Barryoveracted sometimes which made me chuckle at times. Also Jessica Blakewas eye-candy to me, such a beautiful woman. As how she acted how can aman not love her. Definitely better than kebab haha.

    After watching the movie i went here to IMDb and saw that these actorsare somewhat all newbies and that this movie was made with a smallbudget.

    The fact that the 2 main characters are new actors… i was stunned bytheir performance. This blew me away even more and the only thing i cansay about it is: BRAVO! You guys made my evening and i definitely planon getting this movie on DVD to put it into my own collection! I hopeto see more of these actors in the near future, they deserve it.

    This movie is 10 times better than that major crap called: Twilight. Amajor thank you to the team that made this movie.

    I have been moved by this movie and hope future viewers of this moviewill be too. This is the impact that the movie has/had to make and theysucceeded very VERY much.

  3. jessica (menthapiperita) from Toronto, ON
    30 Mar 2012, 1:30 pm

    I enjoyed the film wholly and while it's been years since I read theoriginal source material, a novel by Philip Pullman originally titled"The White Mercedes," I felt it was a very good adaptation. I mustconfess that The Butterfly Tattoo/White Mercedes was never a favouriteamong Pullman's stories (I have very mixed feelings about hiscontemporary novels in general). In this vein, my complaints withregards to the plot probably echo some of the more negative reviews,although I felt it carried well enough in the film. As a viewer with avague memory of the original plot and setting, I sometimes found myselftrying to remember how characters managed without mobile phones back inthe early 90s (this is purely tangential).

    Otherwise, I felt the film was one of the better films I've seen thispast year. Although the actors were obviously new, they were good, andto my amateur eye, gave very sincere performances. In combination withthe beautiful cinematography (I'm glad I was able to see this inwidescreen as intended), I gather that was a pretty solid movie on thepart of the director Phil Hawkins and the producers. I am even moreimpressed due to the educational nature of the film project for many ofthe cast and crew members.

    My only major complaint that would prevent me from giving the film ahigher rating pertains to the use of flashbacks, especially as employedin the second half of the film. While I have no objection to the use offlashbacks in general, and felt that they were very well employed inthe retelling stories of the past, they seemed rather clichéd andunnecessary in the depiction of characters' reflection upon arelationship that had developed over merely days over the course of thefilm.

    Overall a very good film. Congratulations to all those who worked sohard to put it together.

  4. Bellerophon from Virginia
    30 Mar 2012, 1:30 pm

    I enjoyed it. Certainly more than a great many studio films that madebig bucks in the box office. Three out of five stars from me on Netflix(can't do fractions). I recall giving only two stars to some Oscarwinners.

    Pros: The opening scene was beautiful, and the integration of thesoundtrack was outstanding throughout. I loved, loved, loved theclose-ups of the leading couple. They really tested the actors, whoonly rarely betrayed their inexperience. I'd buy stock in Jessica Blakeif she were selling — and not just because she's a pretty face. Thecostumes and design elements were excellent as well.

    Cons: The flashbacks. I don't know enough about movie-making to put myfinger on anything in particular, but they just seemed like TV kitschto me. I don't have a problem with using them as a plot device. I justdidn't like the way these were shot/edited. They compare poorly withsimilar ones from another adaptation, Midnight in the Garden of Goodand Evil.

    Mixed: The script. I'm not sure how faithful the screenplay was to thebook because I haven't read it, but the dialogue was awkward sometimes(although the actors covered well for the most part) and the endingwasn't as inspired as the introduction. Show me humanity to close, nota landscape. This one reminded me of the ending to the theatrical cutof Blade Runner.

  5. johannes2000-1 from Netherlands
    30 Mar 2012, 1:30 pm

    This is obviously a "small" movie, with a very limited budget andmainly non-professional or unknown actors. In view of this, it'sabsolutely a fine and impressive achievement: it has an involving storythat evolves itself like a miniature Greek tragedy, a fast pace, asolid musical score, surprisingly beautiful photography and equallysurprising fine performances by the two young protagonists.

    On the other hand, the whole project impressed me as trying a littlebit too hard, as a tiny bit too ambitious. I learned from this sitethat the novel that this movie is based on, is apparently well known,but I didn't read it and I have to judge the movie on what I saw. Irather thought that the story (or at least the script) was over-crowdedwith "issues", that evidently cannot, in those scarce one and a halfhour, all of them get the attention and development that they deserved.To begin with, there's the coming-of-age and the love-story, that in myopinion both fared the best by getting enough space. But then therealso was a rich versus poor issue, sexual harassment (by the obnoxiousstudent and more or less also by Jenny's employer), a divorced parentsissue (Chris), and incest and running away from home (Jenny). And as ifthat's not enough, there was the storyline of Chris's boss beinginvolved in a complicated (and apparently failed) witness protectionprogram, while being chased and threatened by an avenging murderer. Andto boot all that, we had to deal with this ill-fated young love thatended, through all kinds of misunderstandings, in a tragic accidentaldeath.

    Now don't get me wrong: all of this was dealt with in a very sincereand at times even impressive way, but the result was like a patchworkof what easily could have filled three movies or a mini-series. Allthese issues were now cramped together and many of them only touchedthe surface or just fell flat, by want of space and time. To illustratemy meaning: in one of the final minutes of the movie Chris delivers alittle note that Jenny wrote to her mother. We never before met thismother, what's more: Jenny never even mentioned her. The fact that thisscene is used in the conclusion of the movie makes it heavy withmeaning, as if Chris in a way is delivering Jenny's last will and withthat the movies raison d'etre. But when we read (hear) the contents ofthis note, it sounds surprisingly superficial: Jenny just tells hermother how lucky she is with her new boyfriend. Her mother startscrying while we see Chris cycling off and that's the end of the scene.To me this felt like a missed opportunity, an idea (like many other inthis movie) that was well-meant, but just didn't got the time todevelop into something more then a beautiful picture. Like this, therewere more of these moments that had deserved more depth anddevelopment.

    But all in all the many positive feelings outweighed by far the fewnegative. The movie stayed in my mind for a long time. As I saidbefore, Duncan Stuart and Jessica Blake were equally convincing intheir portrayals of Chris and Jenny (helped of course by a gooddirection), and of these two I was particularly impressed by youngStuart, who has a great screen-presence and a very natural and at thesame time mature way of acting. I saw in his filmography that thismovie was his only project until now. It definitely should be the startof a fine career.

  6. Kenny Buchholz from Midlothian, VA, US
    30 Mar 2012, 1:30 pm

    Maybe Phillip Pullman's novel is better, for my own sake andconsideration of Pullman, I sincerely hope so.

    But this movie is not particularly great. I really wanted to like it.It has the flavor of an Indie film, and I was hoping it would be agreat Indie film. But it isn't.

    The swirling thematic presence of Romeo and Juliet lays out a fairlystraight plot line, so if You are looking for surprises, You are boundto be disappointed.

    All the technical elements (acting, cinematography, etc) are wellwithin acceptable limits, it just doesn't deliver a very profoundexperience.

    I can see how some people might LOVE this film, but I think that theymust be reaching and wanting to like it so much that they haveconvinced themselves it is really much better than it is.

    It isn't a BAD film, and maybe my mediocre score is simply because Iwanted to like it so much more than I did. It isn't a waste of time,but nor is it one that You walk away NEEDING to talk about, or evenremember for that matter!

  7. geurts-2 from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
    30 Mar 2012, 1:30 pm

    This movie was very well put together. The characters came across withsincerity, delivered very well by (what appear to be) new actors.

    I couldn't help but imagine this sort of story coming together, whetherby terrible coincidence or by a nasty twist of fate – and it was trulya sad thing to envision.

    I found the pace to be as expected for this sort of film, with plentyof time to understand the characters, and a healthy dose of dialog-freescenes full of introspection and character growth. I also reallyenjoyed the fact that the director respected his audience and didn'tspell things out for his viewers.

    Now, this is not a film I would recommend to most of my guy friends, asthere is very little action and it is, after all, a love story – but Iknow the ladies would enjoy it thoroughly.

  8. Kellie Stewart from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 1:30 pm

    This story was well acted, it was just not a story worth acting. Thepeople you should be sympathetic toward end up making so many stupidchoices that it's difficult to have sympathy for them. This could becalled a modern day Romeo and Juliet, but there were no familiesinvolved, just two people from different walks of life that cometogether and fall in love, if you can call their brief time togetherlove. Their relationship was sweet to watch come together, but youdon't get involved with someone and let them know so little about youthat they can't locate you and think that you have abandoned them alongwith other poor assumptions. The only person I felt sorry for wasBarry. He seemed like a person with his heart in the right place thathad turned his life around and was thankful for it. This movie draggedthings out for too long and made the boy seem like a complete moronthat acted before he thought anything through. Love does odd things tous, but this boy apparently lost all logic and reason over not beingable to find someone. I found this movie disappointing. I did not thinkit was heartwarming and came away more irritated than anything else.

  9. fromelh from France
    30 Mar 2012, 1:30 pm

    I'll keep it short.

    It's been a long time since I've been moved like that by a movie.

    Maybe because I identified a lot with Chris, but still the story iscompelling, true to the heart. The relationship between Chris and Jennydoesn't seem fake, every time I was expecting a cliché it sidestepped alittle. The ending may be obvious to some, but it's not what makes agood drama.

    Jessica Blake's a real treat, and I hope to see more of her in thefuture. I quite liked the director's work too. Lingering frames,gorgeous photography.

    A well recommended movie.

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