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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 3 May 2008
The Railway Children is essentially a film about people who are not afraid to care about each other without expecting anything in return. The story probably seems to many people today to be an unlikely fantasy. Is it really possible that a group of children would take the time to go around town and collect birthday presents for some guy who works on the railway? Well, when you consider the film is set over 100 years ago, it's quite possible. What else did kids have to do with their time when the most advanced consumer product was the pocket watch? The day was still 24 hours long but there was no TV, mobile phones or boy bands to waste your time on. Back then, people probably had the time to be kind to each other and they could do it without fear of being scammed.

The children's acting is extraordinarily good. Jenny Agutter shines in her first major film role and Sally Thomsett is the most natural child actor I've seen to date. The adults do a good job too with Bernard Cribbins at his best as the railway guy whose pride gets the better of him.

The DVD is fine but not great; there are no extras at all and the picture is a bit smudgy in the night-time scenes. It is however quite clear in the bright daytime scenes with no noticable grain.

The film is presented in 1.66:1 format (15:9) which is not wide enough for a 16:9 screen and leaves dark bands at the left and right. However, according to the Internet Movie Database this is exactly the format the film was made in so this is more a note than a complaint.

Notwithstanding the lack of extras on the DVD, the film is so good that I'd still advise you to buy it. If I had a time machine, I'd forget the future and I'd go back there, to a time when children waved at trains and got excited by a paper-chase.
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on 7 April 2000
Actually, make that from 6 to infinity! When I first watched this "flick" as a first run at the local movie-theatre I was enchanted by it. (I think I immediately developed a crush for Jenny Agutter that I've never actually lost!). The story, the cast and the setting just combined to produce a beautiful production. Much later it popped up on TV and once again I thoroughly enjoyed it. Recently I spent some time searching for a VHS copy so that my children could share my experience and I was delighted to find that "The Railway Children" is still available; I immediately ordered it. This is a movie that should be seen by everybody, no matter how old we are, and one that should be forever available for purchase. I gladly recommend it without any hesitation whatsoever. (BK)
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on 5 August 2000
The above summary says it all, really. "The Railway Children" is truly children's cinema perfection... but don't think this is one just for the kids! This film evokes an era of innocence, honesty and simplicity that maybe never actually existed, but does so without being saccharine-sweet.
The acting and the direction are first class, and the film is shot through with both extreme humour and beautifully moving moments. How hard-hearted would you need to be to fail to be moved by Roberta's birthday party, and not stifle a tear or a sob during the almost unbearable 'stop-motion' daughter and father reunion scene?
Whether "The Railway Children" can have an impact on children who have been raised on films such as "Toy Story" and "A Bug's Life" is open to debate. But to deny them the opportunity of seeing such a genuinely enchanting piece of film-making is little short of a crime.
So often, we hear the phrase, "this is one to treasure"; in this case, it truly is. Buy it... NOW!
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HALL OF FAMEon 29 October 2007
The Railway Children, at least this 1970 movie version written and directed by that long-time British character actor, Lionel Jeffries, is an unmitigated...classic. It tells a childhood story with great simplicity and charm; the sentimentality is muted; the evocation of childhood adventures is involving; and Jeffries brings cleverness and style to his production.

The Waterbury family is leading an idyllic life in Edwardian London. The father is prosperous, the mother is beautiful and loving, the children are well-mannered and affectionate, their home is warm and cozy. Then one night during the Christmas holidays two men appear at the doorstep, talk quietly to the father, and then take him away. In a moment the lives of Mrs Waterbury (Dinah Sheridan) and Bobbie, 14 (Jenny Agutter), Phyllis, 12 (Sally Thomsett) and young Peter (Gary Warren), have been changed. Only their fortitude and good spirits are going to see them through. Now teetering into poverty, Mrs. Waterbury takes her children to live in a musty old brick house in the countryside near a rail-line, not too far from a small village with a train station. The children discover the rail and regularly sit on a small hill to wave at the passengers as the train chugs by. One day an old gentleman, going to his business in the city, looks up from his newspaper and finds himself waving back. It's not long before he will play an important part in the story.

As time passes, Mrs. Waterbury brings all her love and intelligence to bear on her children. She begins to write stories to earn money. She teaches them their lessons and provides a home of warmth and security for them. The story, however, is about these three children, especially Bobbie. At 14, she is old enough to want to share her mother's worries, yet young enough to enjoy the adventures she has with her sister and brother. They find a poor man at the station who cannot speak English. They discover he is a Russian refugee who no longer knows where his wife and child are. They insist he must come home with them, and their mother takes him in. Before long the children have written a large sign to the old gentlemen on the train asking for his help. They help a young man taking part in a steeplechase who breaks his leg in a train tunnel. Soon, he is at their home recuperating. They decide to have a birthday party for the station master, a man with few friends and several children who is a stickler for his dignity. It's not long before the children help him realize the difference between friendship and charity. In other words, the three children encounter all sorts of problems in their childhood adventures, and manage to be instrumental in seeing that all the problems have happy endings.

But what of their own problems? Bobbie finally learns from her mother that her father was taken away because he had been accused of treason, of giving state secrets to the Russians. Will Bobbie be able to find a way to help? Will the old gentleman be something more than simply an old gentleman on a passing train? Will their father's case be reopened? Will there be a happy ending?

Jenny Agutter was almost 18 when she filmed her part; she plays the 14-year-old Bobbie with great naturalness and charm. As important as the other players are, especially Dinah Sheridan as the mother, Agutter is the heart of the story. For me, it is Jenny Agutter's talent and Lionel Jeffries' style and restraint that make this movie so memorable. The story's problems come with no serious doubt but that they will be solved. And Jeffries does not just give us an expertly adapted and directed movie, he adds touches that are barely noticed but which charm us. This might include just a split second of a freeze frame as two people talk; or a slow close-up of a small, yellow wildflower in the grass outside Bobbie's home, then a slow pull-back from a yellow oil lamp being turned up inside; or the realization that a delightful interior shot or a view of the green countryside or a look at the train station from a hill...all suddenly recall those charming Edwardian hand-tinted drawings of a perfect by-gone time.

Perhaps this gentle story can't compete for the time kids need nowadays to perfect their Nintendo monster-splatting skills. I'm almost positive it would never capture the attention of most of their parents, especially those weaned on Batman and Leone. Still, it's a perfectly put together movie and shouldn't be forgotten. As an aside, 19 years later the story was retold as a television program. This time, Jenny Agutter played the mother.

The DVD transfer looks very good. There are no extras.
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VINE VOICEon 2 July 2010
Most people know about the film itself, so I will concentrate on the actual Blu-ray edition itself.

For me, picture quality is the most important aspect of a DVD or Blu-ray issue, and this Optimum Blu-ray is of high quality, and certainly an improvement on the DVD. The main benefit is sharpness; there really is an almost 3D quality (no, not the 3D with specs stuff which is currently the latest fad) in places. A great deal of the film was shot on location and some of the scenery shots draw you into them. Grass and leaves of trees can be difficult to reproduce, but here they are crystal clear. Details are generally clearer than the DVD and railway fans may well find this an essential purchase for this reason (I did). There is a little grain but not much. Colour in the outside, location, shots seems natural, although I did wonder about the colour balance of some of the studio shots. Nothing serious though. The sound is allegedly basic stereo, although listening via my TV I couldn't notice much in the way of stereo, just good clean mono. Overall, an excellent transfer.

Much of the film was shot on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in West Yorkshire, and one of the Blu-ray extras, 'Now and Then- A Retrospective documentary on The Ralway Children', has some of the railway workers who appeared in the film giving their memories of the filming. The other extra, a series of interviews with some of the stars of the film, is pleasant enough, but you won't learn a great deal.

If you are interested in the making of the film, I strongly recommend the short booklet 'The Making of The Railway Children', The Making of "The Railway Children" , produced by the railway itself, which gives far more information and is well worth its modest price.

Back to the Blu-ray disc; an excellent transfer of what has now become a classic family film.

Strongly recommended.
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on 18 August 2012
THE RAILWAY CHILDREN [1970/2010] [40th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray] An Absolute Gem! One of The Best Children's Films Ever Made!

Starring Jenny Agutter and Bernard Cribbins. Lionel Jeffries' adaption of E. Nesbits much-loved bestseller "The Railway Children" is a timeless and enduring affair. After their father is mysteriously taken away, three Edwardian children move to the country where the local railway becomes a source of hope and adventure. Sensitive without being sentimental, the film perfectly captures a magical moment in childhood, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest children's film of all time.

FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 1971 24th British Academy Film Awards: Nominated: Best Supporting Actor for Bernard Cribbins. The entire cast break the fourth wall and perform a curtain call as the credits roll. The camera moves slowly along a railway track towards a train which is decked in flags, in front of which all of the cast are assembled, waving and cheering to the camera. At the start of the credit sequence, a voice can be heard shouting "Thank you, Mr Forbes" as an acknowledgement to Bryan Forbes, who put up a security for the film to be completed. Meanwhile, Jenny Agutter holds up a small slate on which "The End" is written in chalk and says "Goodbye" as the credits conclude.There were special events around the shooting location and even a live production took place at Waterloo Station [London].

Cast: Dinah Sheridan, Bernard Cribbins, William Mervyn, Iain Cuthbertson, Jenny Agutter, Sally Thomsett, Gary Warren, Peter Bromilow, Ann Lancaster, Gordon Whiting, Beatrix Mackey, Deddie Davies, David Lodge, Christopher Witty, Brenda Cowling, Paddy Ward, Erik Chitty, Sally James, Dominic Allan, Richard Leech (voice), Amelia Bayntun (uncredited), Ann Cryer (uncredited), Bob Cryer (uncredited), Paul Luty (uncredited), Graham Mitchell (uncredited) and Peter Russell (uncredited)

Director: Lionel Jeffries

Producer: Robert Lynn

Screenplay: Lionel Jeffries and E. Nesbit (celebrated novel)

Composer: Johnny Douglas

Cinematography: Arthur Ibbetson

Video Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

Audio: English: 2.0 LPCM Stereo Audio

Subtitles: English SDH

Running Time: 104 minutes

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: STUDIOCANAL / OPTIMUM CLASSIC

Andrew's Blu-ray Review: The well to-do Waterbury family is turned upside down when their father is taken from their home under mysterious circumstances. Mother [Dinah Sheridan] explains nothing except that father has had to go away, and with her children moves to a humble house in the country. The three Waterbury children occupy their time by waving to trains, which leads to a number of adventures. Young Peter [Gary Warren] learns that stealing coal is wrong, even if mother is cold. Phyllis [Sally Thomsett] is a tag-along without much imagination of her own, but the oldest daughter Bobbie [Jenny Agutter] learns more about the disappearance of her father, and handles every problem as if it might help get him back.

The popular novel "The Railway Children" is one of those stories about plucky kids in Edwardian England, the kind of tale one expects to see handled in a more frivolous manner. If done by Disney, it would be a musical with adults who act like children and children who act like idiots. The leads would be big star personalities that would warp the original story all out of proportion.

Actor Lionel Jeffries was a familiar second-string buffoon in Peter Sellers films before he became better known in larger roles in ‘First Men In the Moon' and `Camelot.' ‘The Railway Children' was Lionel Jeffries' first film as a director, and his good taste in hewing closely to the modest lines of the book is matched only by his direction of actors. The performances here are all good, in a way that shows a delicate director's control. Every character is a surprise. Dinah Sheridan is the virtuous mother who tries to keep the tragedy from her children, and only becomes upset when she thinks they're out begging for charity. Bernard Cribbins is the proud railway porter with a house-full of kids, but he's never mindful for being a quaint character actor, or to make easy statements about class. William Mervyn is the rail tycoon who takes an interest in the kids; Jeffries handles this part of the story so well, we never resent the fact that our kid heroes have a millionaire on their side.

Nobody reaches for tears or easy emotional effects, so the story never becomes mawkish. Mum is caught crying once by herself, and is left to her privacy. Potential emotional scenes are subverted, as when the Russian refugee's family is found. We cut to a long shot of his happy exit by train, and the feeling of goodwill is sublimated back into the story, instead of being squandered in a tearful release.

At the centre of `The Railway Children' is Jenny Agutter, who is a marvel to watch and the real star of the show, even with 5th place billing. The quiet intelligence and positive attitude on her sensitive face make her the perfect heroine. She wears no makeup to suppress her beauty, and seems all the more beautiful for it. Most of the adventures are really hers, as her younger siblings are only helpers and cheerleaders. The enforced move to the cold countryside is a catalyst that forces her to think and act as an adult.

Jenny Agutter is marvellous, whether flagging down a train headed for trouble or carefully mending misunderstandings with the neighbours. Her interactions with the rich gentleman on the train bring back the nostalgic notion that perhaps there once was a time when people communicated with such direct sincerity. The Railway Children has no outrageously exaggerated story points, and the kids remain kids and not superheroes. But in the bright and hopeful 1905 world presented by Lionel Jeffries, all things seem possible. The scene I remembered all these years is a simple birthday party for Bobbie, the only time Jeffries uses camera tricks to get an effect. Bobbie opens the door to find her family and friends greeting her with a cake and gifts, and a flush of barely contained delight comes across her face. She glides from one guest to another, speechless and grateful, and the camera helps express her boundless happiness. It's one of the most beautiful scenes of its kind, ever.

The underplaying of the obvious also gives power to a late episode where the Waterburys nurse a prep school boy with a broken leg. No special attention is given to romantic sparks between him and Bobbie, but the beginnings are there in their farewell. That, and in the gleam in Bobbie's eye at the end of the hilariously feeble puppet show they put on for their guest. Helping enormously are Arthur Ibbetson's camera and Johnny Douglas' musical score. Both are pretty but never precious. Douglas' tunes only become predictable when they try to hype the light comedy moments - his adventure and dramatic themes are terrific. The whole movie has the slightly rosy feel of old events softened and sweetened by memory. It's even better than I remembered it, something that doesn't often happen when rediscovering old pictures.

Still considered a national treasure in England, `The Railway Children' is on the British Film Institute's list of 100 Best British films. The warmth and good will Jeffries creates is so strong, he can afford to have a Valentine-like last shot, with his cast breaking character to say farewell to the film audience. As family films go, The Railway Children is just about as good as you get. The casting is pitch perfect from the three children, Jenny Agutter, Sally Thomsett and Gary Warren, to Bernard Cribbins as Mr Perks and the kindly, well-educated mother, Dinah Sheridan. The child actors are utterly convincing in their roles and the quality of their acting is, for me, epitomised by Jenny Agutter who was two years younger than Sally Thomsett (who played her younger sister) and is really the focus of the film is the story is a coming-of-age tale for Bobbie. This is one of those films that works for viewers of all ages and the ending is one of those that, like `It's a Wonderful Life,' really brings a lump to the throat.

As I hadn't seen this film for well over two decades, I suspected that it would have lost its effect over the years and I wouldn't appreciate it as I did as a child. I was glad to find that it was probably more effective now as I'm now in a position to see the quality of the filmmaking, writing and acting. The period setting, in the early Edwardian era, is important is it means `The Railway Children' doesn't age or become in anyway dated. The Waterburys, especially Bobbie and the Mother, are incredibly posh and Jenny Agutter can probably outdo most members of the Royal Family for correct enunciation!

Blu-ray Video Quality – As to mark the 40th anniversary of the film’s release, not only was the film digitally restored. The picture is absolutely stunning and shows what can be done when time and effort is put into restoring a film to its former glory. Detail level is high and the contrast and tone are exceptional. The colours are vibrant and showcase the beautiful scenery of the Yorkshire Dales from the bright blue sky to the rolling fields where almost every buttercup can be picked out. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – It's not only the picture that has been restored, but the sound has undergone restoration treatment and is presented here in a beautifully clear 2.0 LPCM Stereo soundtrack. The dialogue and small ambient sounds are crisp, with the trains giving a reassuringly loud noise as they steam past, whistle and break.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Special Feature: Now and Then: A Retrospective Documentary on The Railway Children [20:00] The first extra feature is a retrospective comprising interviews with many of the locals who were involved as extras such as Ann Cryer MP and they all talk about the locations, what it was like having a feature film come to their small town and how they reacted when they saw themselves on screen. You don't often hear about the people who live in and around an area where a film was made so this gives a nice insight into how the film was made, the locations used and what the locals thought, and still think, about the film.

Special Feature: Interview with Acclaimed Children's Author Jacqueline Wilson: Jacqueline Wilson gives her perspective on the book and the film as a children's writer.

Special Feature: Interview with Jenny Agutter: Jenny Agutter talk about how they became involved, what it was like working with the other cast members and what they got up to when they weren't filming?

Special Feature: Interview with Bernard Cribbins: Bernard Cribbins also talks about how they became involved in this classic children's magical film. It's quite amusing to hear Bernard Cribbins talking about his night-time fishing.

Special Feature: Interview with Sally Thomsett: Sally Thomsett also gives an informative interview on all aspect of her involvement with the film. There is also a very funny anecdote that Sally Thomsett informs us about Jenny Agutter and that Sally Thomsett was caught out by Lionel Jeffries when they snuck out for a night on the town!

Finally, `The Railway Children` is one of the finest family films ever made in Britain and sits alongside films like ‘Mary Poppins’ as examples of what you can do with a great cast, great subject material and grey settings. It really doesn't matter how old you are, ‘The Railway Children’ is a film to be loved and cherished and this Blu-ray is the perfect way to do this. It is a splendid new release and, although there is no commentary track, it is a wonderful release for all the family. Very Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller –Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
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on 29 January 2009
This film is a true classic, it makes me cry every time I watch it-Big Softy I know! It takes me back to my youth and the imagination of a child. well acted and the stuff of legend the characters are believable. I recently went to Yorkshire (near Howarth) and walked the Railway Children Walk, to see the sites where the film was shot. The Three Chimneys still stand you will be glad to know!
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on 5 November 2016
A lovely story which has turned into a classic film. Beautifully directed by Lionel Jefferies and the most amazing cast. The first time you watch this film you don't know how it will turn out. Of course it doesn't matter how many times you watch this film it doesn't diminish your enjoyment and you still get the gut wrenching and tears moment of 'daddy, my daddy' a killer moment.
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on 1 June 2011
I've always loved this film and was so pleased to purchase it as it was listed as having subtitles. To my dismay this isn't so - being deaf I can only watch with subtitles so I have wasted my money and been very disappointed as I thought I was in for such a treat.
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on 3 February 2017
Original and still the best - bought for grandson after watching it live in London . He had questions for us after watching it - because the live version was different to the sanitised version he had read at school !
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