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(143) IMDb 6.7/10
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Fantasy drama which sees a young evacuee stumbling into another time after he is sent to stay in the countryside. 13-year-old Tolly (Alex Etel) is sent to stay with his grandmother (Maggie Smith), but after discovering his ancestors' spirits are still very much alive in the heart of the home, he is pulled back in time with them to the midst of the Napoleonic wars. There, he discovers all sorts of family secrets of the past and present, and begins to learn the true importance that his family holds. The supporting cast includes Dominic West and Timothy Spall.

Starring:
Hugh Bonneville, Pauline Collins
Rental Formats:
DVD

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature parental_guidance
Runtime 1 hour 35 minutes
Starring Hugh Bonneville, Pauline Collins, Maggie Smith, Eliza Bennett, Alex Etel, Timothy Spall, Carice van Houten
Director Julian Fellowes
Genres Science Fiction
Studio SPIRIT ENTERTAINMENT
Rental release 21 February 2011
Main languages English

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

183 of 192 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 21 Feb 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Loved this when it was on over Christmas so have just put my order in. With Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville in it what's not to like? However, be warned - those of you expecting an adaptation of The Children of Green Knowe will be disappointed. This film is based on The Chimneys of Green Knowe, a later book in the series. The Children of Green Knowe is the first book and was made by the BBC into a wonderful children's series in around 1988 but which, for reasons best known to the them, has never been released on video or DVD (I read somewhere they wiped the tape!). The series starred Daphne Oxenford and Alec Christie and it was actually filmed in Lucy M Boston's Manor house at Hemingford Grey. In the Children of Green Knowe series Tolly goes to live with his great grandmother in her old manor house and gradually encounters the ghosts of the three children who lived in the house many years before (Toby, Alexander and Linnet). I wonder if the confusion over the books is why one reviewer thought it such a poor adaptation? In any event, this is an excellent and moving film, one to watch again and again. Such a pity about the BBC series though as I think The Children of Green Knowe is the better story.
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206 of 217 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Thompson on 26 Dec 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Another stellar cast assembled to do justice to the pen of one of the best screenwriters to have emerged in this country in recent years. Although this is not an original screenplay such as Downton Abbey, Victoria or Gosford Park it is none the less a superb adaptation of an existing story by Lucy Boston. Many of the cast assembled here make their appearance again in the superb Edwardian drama, Downton Abbey. Julian Fellowes succeeds brilliantly in putting to shame the very best screen writers which Hollywood has to offer. The story here is somewhat complex one, moving as it does between two distinct periods in English history held together by the story of one house and it's occupants. One group centred in the Napoleonic wars and the other in wartime England in 1944. For me the glory of this film lies in it's superb dialogue deftly woven from the pen of the redoubtable Julian Fellowes. I thoroughly enjoyed the contrast between the 19th and 20th century social milieu expressed here. Well worth watching.
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69 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A. Thorogood on 26 Mar 2011
Format: DVD
This film was superb. One of the best I have seen for a long time and on a par with The Railway children. I thought it would be mainly a children's film but it is much more than that. It has it all, hope, fear, humour and sadness all woven around a great story and portrayed brilliantly in film. A true British classic.
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65 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Hils T on 2 Mar 2011
Format: DVD
Having contributed to Jetpug's discussion below I thought I ought to review this film now I've seen it.

In its favour, there's a strong cast, full of "national treasures" and the young members of the cast also do well. It's attractively filmed too, at Athelhampton House in Dorset, although I could be picky and point out that Green Knowe really should have a moat!

Yet despite the excellent Julian Fellowes writing the screen play, there is something lacking. There are references back to the original Green Knowe books - for instance the statue of St Christopher - but unless you recognise them, these hints are a bit superfluous! After a while, I began to feel that Julian Fellowes would have been better either sticking much closer to the original "Chimmneys of Green Knowe" plot or ditching the Lucy M Boston source completely and just acknowledging it as the inspiration for a good ghost story! My last reservation is the ending - too simple and rather sad - but judge for yourself on that one!

However, I'm an adult, remembering the Green Knowe books with nostalgic affection. In the days of good BBC adaptations this film would have been broadcast in episodes at tea time on Sunday for the family audience who would have really enjoyed it. And if you watch the film with that attitude, it's fine!
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By J. Ritchie on 18 Sep 2011
Format: DVD
You may not recognise the names of all the cast members, but you'll know them when you see them and they all deliver excellent performances, precisely what you'd expect.

The story is set in 1944 and 1809-1811 and Tolly, a young boy who's father is missing in Europe in 1944, finds he has the ability to see ghosts. Specifically, he can see the ghosts of children in 1809, ancestors of his. Slowly the story of 1809 is told with Tolly being able to time-travel to help the good people against his nasty ancestor and his wicked servant. You don't really need to know the plot, just looking at the cast members tells you you're watching a period drama with a happy ending (sort of) and the baddies don't win in the end.

True, the cast members play to typecasting, but that's exactly what this children's story needs. You have to know who are the best people, who might be good and who is really horrible. As such, the emotions are perfectly portrayed, there are no surprises and you can focus on the storyline as it unfolds. This helps tremendously as the story unfolds. Tolly begins to slip seamlessly between 1944 and 1809, so following the story is made infinitely easier knowing the actors portraying the main characters. You won't be trying to work out which time period you're watching, who is who, who did what, and how can all this be happening 'simultaneously'. With perfect casting and great acting, the story is clearly told, involving and engrossing.

The ending isn't entirely happy, which lifts this film above the sentimental norm, and there are enough 'odd' moments to add unease to the atmosphere of the film.

If you're looking for a family film with a perfectly pitched British tone, look no further, this film is as good as it gets.
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