Saturday, August 28, 2010

Family movie review- The Railway Children

Category: family entertainment, children's. Year produced: 1970. Directer: Lionel Jeffries. Time set (of movie): Turn of the century 1900's, England Origin: Book* by Edith Nesbit, published 1906


The mysterious disappearance of the beloved father of a rich family. And the outcome? Maids who cannot hold their tongues, selling of furniture, "playing poor", grumpy Aunts, and finally a move to "Three chimneys"-- their idea of a poor, spooky old dwelling. However, they don't have much money for food, fire, and family, so the plot thickens when they find a way to help their ailing mother, with an outcome that makes a the difference to more than their new railroad friend.

Positive Elements:
The family is greatly enforced, with honesty and responsibility in high priority. Devotion to family, and compassion for others, even those as poor as themselves who cannot spare time, energy, and money on others, is shown throughout this movie. Clean humor, and family laughs are woven in with a "real life" sort of way.
After Peter attempts stealing coal, he is forgiven, and then comes back to make amends the next day in a genuine manner, and does good to his fellow men from there-after.

Spiritual Content:
Not, much. After the boy is caught stealing coal from the railway to help build a fire to keep their sick mother warm, the railroad master asks if he has ever been to a church before. (We assume they have, but have never actually seen them there.)  Also, one lovable, Irish railway worker seems to be superstitious, cringing when a black cat crosses his path, and other similar situations.

Violent Content:
I like to take into consideration not only physical violence, but also the violence words can do to others, and sometimes in very subtle ways.
There is no blood, and violence whatsoever beside some mildly rough railway workers, and a yough man apparently in pain after breaking his leg by a fall, (he is helped, and becomes quite well).
Hurtful words and actions are expected in videos depicting "family life", but this film is well done.  A few little spats between siblings, mostly the youngest two- Peter and Phyllis.  (Almost unrealistic how well behaved these siblings are, but charming and easy to imagine).  Well done.  One maid in the beginning of the film has an outburst at Peter and Phyllis for pranking her.  Saying something nasty about their missing father.

Sexual Innuendo:
We see mother and father sitting on their bed together with the children while their children gather around to celebrate an early morning birthday with presents.  We see mother and father hug when parting on that mysterious night, seen by Roberta from her window.  Another couple hug and kiss briefly, (not seen by  the children).  When Peter asks what chollone is, Phyllis, (age 10,) says it is a "sweet smelling stuff that you dab on where you think you will be kissed". This garners uncomfortable looks from her siblings.
Roberta, (Bobbie,) and her new found yough-man-friend seem quite attracted to each-other, in a very innocent way. (I would say she is 16, and the boy is 17 or 18).
[Spoiler Warning]  At the end of the film, when most children would be licking the last bits of butter from the popcorn bowl and running off to brush teeth and jump into PJ's, a short documentary is verbalized about the real life of the family depicted. Informing the listener that "father" had an affair, and his wife raised the child from the second woman as her own.

Negative Content:
You may need to explain to young children that talking to strangers is not a good idea, and their are other ways to be kind to those we do not know.  The three children find their new country home near the railway station an intriguing, busy place to be, and wave to the cabbose master and later paint a large sign relaying messages, and later ask him for favors. The kindly old man fortunately is willing to help, (as everybody is, of corse,) but this does not go overly well with mother once she finds out, and gives a good, stern, maternal reprimand. 
Though the "caboose man" becomes a good family friend, he asks Bobbie not to tell her mother and her younger brother and sister that he is researching their father's "government job", which so oddly called him away without trace.

Questionable Language:

* book from which this movie was based:  Picture coming soon.

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