When the Whales Came (1989)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  20 October 1989 (USA)
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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 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
Joanna Bartholemew ...
Miss Tregarthen
Auntie Mildred
Irene Wilson ...
Molly Woodcock
Fergus Rees ...
The Birdman as a Boy
Kerra Spowart ...
Margaret Pender


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) »




PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 October 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cuando vuelvan las ballenas  »

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User Reviews

Low key drama fueled by solid performances.
4 September 1999 | by (Darwin, Australia) – See all my reviews

On a remote, desolate island off the British coast, a community lives a hand to mouth existence, celebrating when passing yachts come to grief so they can scavenge the wood. They celebrate more when a pod of narwhales are beached, knowing they can eat in style for weeks. As the islanders ready themselves to butcher the whales, an elderly hermit appears to warn of danger if the whales are harmed, remembering an earlier time when the slaughter of a pod of stranded whales was followed by disaster.

Good performances all round, led by Paul Scofield and Helen Mirren. This is certainly not a film to get your adrenalin going but "When the Whales Came" is worthy of a viewing; for the acting, the scenery and the whales.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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