In Edwardian England, the story of the Waterbury family is told largely from the perspective of the three offspring and by oldest, teenage daughter Bobbie. Their loving and relatively affluent family life in suburban London, financially supported by father Charles’ job as a government bureaucrat, includes both parents being a present and welcome part of their children’s activities. Their existence is upended when on Christmas evening 1904, Charles is whisked away without warning by two men. Subsequently, the remaining family is forced to move, they renting a rundown and drafty house, Three Chimneys, in the rural village of Oakworth, Yorkshire. While the three children know that they are now poor by their existence, all their Mother has told Bobbie is that Father is not dead, that he will someday return to them when he is able, and for Bobbie and the others not to ask questions about what happened to him. The three are now forced to find a way to occupy their time while Mother tries to earn pocket money by writing and selling stories, many of their activities which are centered on the railway near their house and the railway tunnel a few miles away from the village station. Their life along the railway at least addresses one of the complaints the three had about their life in London, that not much ever happened, which is not the case along the railway as they get into one adventure after another. In the process, they learn to enjoy life in their new situation, which includes the friendship and admiration of many of the villagers in all the Waterburys’ inherent kindness and generosity. But the question still remains, at least for the three children, of what happened to Father.
This almost perfect cinematic rendition of Edith Nesbit’s popular children’s novel follows the lives of Roberta (Bobbie), Phyllis, and Peter, and their mother, after their father is unfairly accused of treason and sent to prison. They go to live in an almost uninhabitable house in the country which stands near a railway line mum writes stories to make enough money for food and candles, while the children spend much of their time around the railway station and, specifically, waving to one particular train to ‘send their love to father’.
Always an involving and clever novel, the characters are here brought to life under the perceptive direction of Lionel Jeffries (better known as a fine character actor). Jenny Agutter plays Bobbie, while Sally Thomsett and Gary Warren are her sister and brother. Their mother is Dinah Sheridan, while the other memorable characters are played by Bernard Cribbins (Perks the railway-man) and William Mervyn (the old gentleman on the train).
‘The Railway Children’ is gentle entertainment from another age, but does its job beautifully. As we watch Bobbie grow up with the worries of an absent parent jostling against her own needs both to be alone and to have fun, we can only rejoice when events come together at the close of the picture. Throughout we have a sense of time and place be it from the steam trains, the university paper chase, or the red flannelette petticoats worn by the girls (and used to avert disaster!).
Director: Lionel Jeffries
Writers: E. Nesbit, Lionel Jeffries
Stars: Dinah Sheridan, Bernard Cribbins, William Mervyn
Country of origin: United Kingdom
Filming locations: Mytholmes Tunnel, near Haworth, Keighley, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, UK
Format : Matroska
Format version : Version 2
File size : 4.37 GiB
Duration : 1 h 54 min
Overall bit rate : 5 490 kb/s
Links: iMDB | NFO | Screenshots backup