In a small town in Australia, five children riding their horses from school take a forbidden path and meet two strangers, who give them money and make them promise not to tell anyone about them. The two men learn about Lucy. She's a mare belonging to Mr. Thompson, a sheep farmer and the father of three of the children: Helen (the oldest), John, and six-year-old Snow (so named for the color of his hair). The other two are Michael, an English boy staying with the Thompsons, and Neza, an Australian black who is the son of one of Mr. Thompson's stock men. The two men (a third one joins them later) prove to be horse thieves, and when Lucy and her foal turn up missing the next morning, the children know it must have been them. Later, the children tell Mrs. Thompson they're going camping. But their real plan is to find the thieves and get Lucy and the foal back. Written by
I don't expect you've ever heard of our valley. Mara Mara is its name, the name the Australian blacks gave it hundreds of years before we came to their land. Mara Mara. It has a nice, sleepy sound, hasn't it? And we're a sleepy little town, too. Plenty of hard work, but never much excitement. That is to say, not until last Christmas. I must tell you about last Christmas, because then we had too much excitement for a little place like ours. It all started on the afternoon school ...
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The story could be tighter and the film shorter, but otherwise it's hard to find fault with this superb adventure film for children. The black and white cinematography is gorgeous - it's actually rather difficult to capture sweeping landscapes on black and white, but here it looks easy, it's so well done. The story is interesting, the dialog well written, the acting is superb - the kids never get annoying and remain authentic throughout, well supported by the adults who display a remarkable naturalism. Certainly it's "just for kids," that was its intent, and it succeeds admirably. If only one of the many versions of "Tom Sawyer" could have achieved such natural grace and energy! Has held up quite well after more than sixty years.
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