16 February 2014

The Railway Children (starring Jenny Agutter, Sally Thomsett and Gary Warren)

When we started collecting DVDs, I included several classic children's films, many of them excellent value. These have turned out to be useful, as we sometimes entertain young friends. Last night we were babysitting four of them, aged 11 down to three-and-a-half, and decided to watch 1970 version of 'The Railway Children' with them. It's a good story, adapted from the classic children's book of the same name (by E Nesbit), and unlikely to give nightmares. The older three had watched it about a year ago.

The story is well-known. Roberta, usually called Bobby, narrates to start with, explaining how they used to be well-off and fortunate in many respects, but were never really aware of how happy they were. They had a large house, a wealthy and loving father, and a caring mother who - unusually for the era (very early 20th century) - spent a lot of time playing with them.

Then one day, shortly after Christmas, two men come to visit their father and he goes away with them. Their mother is distraught, and things start to change rapidly in the household, until they move to a much smaller house in the countryside, where they explore the local railway lines, and start to befriend some of their new neighbours...

All the children who watched with us were entranced, with barely a wriggle for the full 109 minutes. We enjoyed it ourselves, too. Made in 1970, this adaptation of 'The Railway Children' is a little slow-moving in places, but faithful - on the whole - to the original story.

The children's voices are perhaps a bit over upper-class English... but then that's probably not unrealistic for the society they moved in, and the era . Lovely costumes, attractive scenery, believable people, and a few humorous moments to lighten the (slight) tension.

Totally suitable for the entire family. Definitely recommended to anyone who enjoys classic children's films. Apparently there was a re-make in 2000, but I don't see any need for an update, as this is just about perfect.

Note that the above links are to the DVD  containing just this film, but there are sometimes double-film DVDs, such as the one we have, which contains another classic film in addition.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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