A pair of children befriend an accentric old man, who lives isolated on the far shore of their island home. But it turns out that the old man knows a terrible secret about the island and ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
The Birdman
...
Jack Jenkins
...
Clemmie Jenkins
Helen Pearce ...
Gracie Jenkins
Max Rennie ...
Daniel Pender
...
Mr. Wellbeloved
John Hallam ...
Treve Pender
Barbara Ewing ...
Mary Pender
...
Big Tim
...
Vicar
Joanna Bartholemew ...
Miss Tregarthen
...
Auntie Mildred
Irene Wilson ...
Molly Woodcock
Fergus Rees ...
The Birdman as a Boy
Kerra Spowart ...
Margaret Pender
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Storyline

A pair of children befriend an accentric old man, who lives isolated on the far shore of their island home. But it turns out that the old man knows a terrible secret about the island and the narwhales who sometimes come. Meanwhile WWI is making life hard in the village. Written by Kathy Li

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Plot Keywords:

island | girl | boy | redemption | curse | See All (18) »

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Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

20 October 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cuando vuelvan las ballenas  »

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(Fujicolor)
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User Reviews

 
The Scilly islands
29 November 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

This charming 1989 film was shown recently on cable. Not ever having seen it, or known about it, one realizes what a shame it is not to have been show to a wider audience. "When the Whales Came" is a wonderful film that should be seen by children, as it will charm and involve them in a positive way. Director Clive Rees does a wonderful job in adapting Michael Marpago's novel, in which it's based.

The story takes place in the remote, but beautiful Scilly islands. They are inhabited by people that eke a life out of a hostile environment. Two children, Gracie and Daniel are intrigued by the mysterious man, the Birdman, who lives in a remote shack, but who sensing their curiosity, begins leaving them a few of his wood carvings. As they get to meet the man, he encourages them to follow his example. Then one day, whales beach themselves and the Birdman pleads with the children and the other folks to help him in getting these gentle giants back into the ocean where they belong.

It's a sweet story made even better by Paul Scofield, who as the Birdman makes a fabulous contribution to the film. Mr.Scofield, an actor's actor, is rarely seen on the screen and one rejoices in seeing this magnificent actor in the film. Helen Mirren is also seen as the mother of one of the children. The children, Helen Pearce and Max Rennie are delightful. Also seen in the film, David Suchet, Barbara Jefford, Jeremy Kemp and David Threlfall, among others.

An inspired film that will satisfy any audience thanks to the treatment Mr. Rees gave everything.


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