A man is haunted throughout his life, by a magical door that opens onto an alternate, Garden-of-Eden like world.

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(screenplay), (short story)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Stephen Murray ...
Sir Frank Wallace
...
Henry Redmond
Leonard Sachs ...
The Father
Ann Blake ...
The Aunt
Malcolm Knight ...
Wallace as a child
Kit Terrington ...
Wallace as a schoolboy
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Anne Blake ...
The Aunt
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Storyline

A man is haunted throughout his life, by a magical door that opens onto an alternate, Garden-of-Eden like world.

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Genres:

Short | Fantasy | Sci-Fi

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Release Date:

June 1956 (UK)  »

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Technical Specs

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.96 : 1
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Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

The end credits slide across the screen from right to left. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not without appeal
22 May 2005 | by (England) – See all my reviews

The big feature of this film is, of course, the "Dynamic" frame sizing. Sadly, however, I can't really say that the constant slide-in/slide-out type effects come across as anything other than distracting -- one can certainly see why the technique didn't catch on. For the purposes of concentrating the viewer's attention on a single point, it has to be said that the traditional method of zooming in until that object, enlarged, dominates the entire frame, is more effective than that of dynamically masking off the edges of the image until only a small window remains in the centre of the screen; likewise, a pan across from one character to another seems to correspond more naturally to the normal movement of the human gaze than a static view which gradually expands sideways to a 'widescreen' ratio. A final special effect used at one point during the film was to move the entire portrait-shaped frame diagonally across the screen from top right to bottom left, tracking the movement of the character thus highlighted. At other times, one was simply conscious of steady sliding movements at the edge of the field of view, as if some giant photographer were constantly dithering as to where to crop his print. It was an interesting novelty, but not ultimately a particularly rewarding one. Congratulations to the staff who had the fun of setting it up!

The film itself... when it was possible to concentrate on it... proved to be a not unattractive Technicolor rendition of the H.G.Wells short story of the same name. The moment when the narrator's child-self turns over the forbidden page to discover a photo of himself crying desolately on the kerb -- which then fades into colour and sound as the image this revealed becomes the truth -- is very effective, as is the gentle reminder that the friend who has been bemoaning his lifelong underdog status actually bullied the narrator in his schooldays. (A change from the original plot, designed to cut down on the number of characters required, I suspect - but in this case an inspired one.) The child actors perform a perfectly adequate job until (as, alas, is normal) they actually have to speak: dialogue in the garden sequence is wisely kept to a minimum, preserving the magical mood.

It is difficult to depict a garden so wonderful as to haunt the narrator throughout his life -- still less to do so on what is clearly a very low budget -- but with the aid of attractive locations, some brightly-coloured blossoms, exotic birdsong intercut with stock footage, and what appears to be a genuine flock of flamingoes, the film has a gallant stab at it. In a clever touch, the same Technicolor blossoms embellish the fatal bombsite at the end... and even when, as I did, you know what is coming, it is hard not to be fooled into a moment's belief.

In the interests of accuracy, it should perhaps be recorded that the boy is *not*, as suggested by another review, met by a friendly brontosaurus, but in fact sits down momentarily some time later against what he takes to be a tree-trunk -- only for the frame to expand rapidly outwards to reveal what looks very much like one of the infamous Crystal Palace dinosaur reconstructions, resembling no known beast. This is all too obviously a stroke of budget-saving brilliance!

Overall this film is no great masterpiece but has its moments of charm, albeit hindered rather than helped by the dynamic framing gimmick. And in a way, in this version, the little boy does find his 'lost' garden again...


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