The Railway Children:
Since childhood I’ve always meant to watch The Railway Children (1970), yet for some reason I never did, so have now corrected this “sin”, and I can say this was a pretty cool watch. It’s about three well-off children, Roberta, Phillis, and Peter, who after their father’s accused of a crime have no choice but to be uprooted from their well-off lifestyle and are moved to a remote area in Yorkshire. Despite this they endeavour to help others as a result, and to the credit of the child cast none of them fall into a trap of seeming like as the stereotype goes, spoilt brats.
What comes from all this is an old-fashioned, Britishly relaxing movie!!, although that’s where my criticism comes in. Based on a kids book (by E. Nesbit) and with a 1970 release I get it’s not meant to be high drama, but for me whenever it becomes dramatic you never really feel as involved as you could be, it keeps feeling like there’s going to be some happy ending.
Still, for a U-rated British film not unlike Genevieve (1953), you can just kick back watching The Railway Children. Also, I would give this a 4 out of 5 when coming to it, you should definitely watch it too!
Apparently, every year since this animation came out (1978), the BBFC’s received volumes of complaints because of the U-rating. Now I’ve had the chance to see Watership Down for myself, I can sure say I’m not surprised!! Adapted from a novel by Richard Adams, the story concerns itself with rabbits uprooting themselves from their environment (threatened by human development) in search of a utopia named Watership Down.
Really, it’s a political fable, which reminds me of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and relative to that, it embraces the brutality. Blood is spilt in proportion with the animals regularly facing danger, you name it. Everything’s heightened by despite being an animated film and featuring a stylised prologue explaining the background, the animation’s fairly grounded in reality where the animals aren’t exactly anthropomorphised (resembling humans). So, there’s another reason I’m not surprised kids may have been scarred! I really liked the film, but that’s my observation.
In the end though it’s not a perfect movie as for example the characters can fall too much into simple archetypes at times (although that could be part of the fable’s point), yet as part of England’s tradition of well-translatable fables/parables, the adaption does justice. Having an amazing voice cast including John Hurt etc., doesn’t hurt either. A British film to ultimately be proud of, consider watching this too.