Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My favourite literary adaptations: #15

Yes, the Austen adaptations series was so much fun, I just couldn't resist! So here, by popular demand, is the follow-up. I hope you're not all getting sick of the "Top 10" format. Maybe it's a bit gimmicky, but it seems to work well, providing a framework in which to feature a bunch of reviews.

In this series, I am going to be featuring my 15 favourite film adaptations of classic books and stories - some of them will be children's books (as here), others will be more grown-up classics - George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell. I will obviously not be including Jane Austen here, since I've just done a series on Austen, and I won't be including any Dickens, either. I'd like to save Dickens for a future post/s.

So, let's get started. 

~No. 15 - The Railway Children 2000~


Two generations of Bobbies - Jemima Rooper and Jenny Agutter

Not many people know about this TV movie, but let me assure you, it is a gem. The 1970 adaptation of Edith Nesbit's book is more popular and well known, but the 2000 BBC version is an excellent movie in its own right.

The Railway Children 2000

Peter (Jack Blumenau), Mother (Jenny Agutter), The Old Gentleman (Richard Attenborough), Phyllis (Clare Thomas), Bobbie (Jemima Rooper)

The story begins in Edwardian England, in a middle-class London house. Roberta (always called Bobbie), Peter, and Phyllis live with their mother and father, until one night their father is mysteriously taken away - their mother won't say why. Then it is discovered that they are poor - they must leave their luxurious London home to live in a run-down old house in the country. The children badly miss their father, and life in the country is different to say the least, but the children gladly take the opportunity to explore their surroundings. One of their favourite haunts is the railway station. 

The Railway Children 2000

Jim (JJ Feild) is rescued

The cast is excellent - Jenny Agutter, who played Roberta in the classic 1970 version, here plays the children's mother. Michael Kitchen, David Bamber, and Sophie Thompson all make memorable appearances. Jemima Rooper (Amanda Price from Lost in Austen) is luminous as the young heroine, Bobbie - and keep an eye out for JJ Feild (Henry Tilney!) in one of his earliest TV roles.

The Railway Children 2000

It isn't a loud or fast-paced film, but that is part of its charm. We're given time to take in the scenery, the period details, the trains, family relationships, various characters and incidents in the children's lives, etc.

The Railway Children 2000

It's a delightful, gentle tale, detailing the family's troubles and the children's various adventures, without being remotely gooey or sentimental. There's something magical about this story, and Jemima Rooper's Bobbie makes this adaptation truly a joy to watch. A perfect film to watch with family on a rainy Sunday afternoon. :-)


Jo March said...

Oh goody! A new series of posts! Can't wait to see what your top favorites are.

I've seen part of the 1970 version of The Railway Children, I didn't like the book very much so it was harder to get into the film. That's interesting that Bobbie from 1970 is the mother here.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...A friend gave me this book as a gift years ago, but I have yet to read it! That's Jemima Rooper? Actually, in that first picture, I thought she looks a little like Natalie Portman. LOL! Jemima's so young here! Anyway, looking forward to the rest of this new series!


Ashley Nicole said...

I LOVE this movie! My siblings and I used to copy the "green dragon" part. When our dad was to come home at night, we would run out and wave to him as he drove by on the road outside our subdivision. Fun times!

Marian said...

Your review is great; this movie is definitely one of my favourites!!! I read the book later, but I think I like this adaptation better. Definitely a good family film, and one of those that can be enjoyed at pretty much any age.

The Editrix said...

Jo March, O.J. - I have to confess, I haven't actually read the book! I might have read the first couple of chapters a few years ago, but I've never read the whole thing - naughty me!

Yes, Jemima Rooper looks a lot younger! She was actually 17-18 when this was filmed, but they dressed her up in "little girl" clothes, which made her look a lot younger. Her character, Roberta, is supposed to be about 12 or 13.

Ashley Nicole and Marian - wow, cool, I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves this movie! :-D

Miss Jen said...

Ooooo..... I want to watch it! :)

I saw you were on a special
poll for the best teen blog. ;)
I voted for you!!

Love~ Jen

The Editrix said...

Thanks, Jenny! :-)

Rebekah said...

My family and I watched that movie a few months ago - I really enjoyed it! My favorite part was the end, when she is on the platform ... it almost makes me tear up ...

The girl who plays Bobbie, is also on Wives and Daughters - she has a minor role as a relation of Mrs. Goodenough I think.

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Enbrethiliel said...


I just want to let you know that I could never tire of any list format!

G.K. Chesterton once wrote: "The greatest of all poems is an inventory." I wholeheartedly agree with him! =)

So keep these posts coming!

Nibs said...

Wow, I actually saw this series! (Which is odd, as I don't see a TON of BBC films.) I think it was about 4 years ago, and I thought it was terrific. :)

Carli Nicole said...

this movie looks really interesting. I'll have to try it out!


p.s. I really like your reviews, they're very clear cut and interesting!!