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From Time To Time [DVD]
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Based on Lucy M Boston s best selling novel The Chimneys of Green Knowe and directed by Oscar Winner & Writer of Gosford Park and Downton Abbey Julian Fellowes. Starring the inimitable Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville (both of Downton Abbey), Timothy Spall (Secrets & Lies) and Dominic West (The Wire) comes an engrossing family ghost story. In times of war two centuries apart, two distinct worlds are linked by a single family and the house in which they live. It is 1944 and thirteen year-old Tolly Oldknow (Alex Etel, Cranford) is sent to spend Christmas with his grandmother (Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey), whilst his mother searches for news of his father in wartime London. Spending his days exploring the sprawling ancestral estate, he begins to uncover family secrets and ghosts from the past as he becomes a witness to events during the Napoleonic wars and finds himself slowly drawn into participating in the drama. Invisible to most people in the past, yet able to move amongst them, he begins to unravel the mystery which has bewildered his family for two centuries. The solution to the puzzle leads him into his greatest adventure yet... A wonderful heart-warming story of a young boy learning the value of his family and its history.
About the Director
Downton Abbey, Gosford Park
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderful - From Time to Time. One can't help identifying with the Grannie as she tries to communicate with her hurt and resistant grandson. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Dorothy F. Harrison
Very prompt service, the dvd was good, not brilliant, but worth a watch.Published 1 month ago by anne maddock
Delighted to see all the Downton Abbey actors in new roles. A very interesting subject.Published 2 months ago by Jean Dupont