"This is the story of a forest, and of the people who walked in it..."
I'd never so much as heard of this when I first saw it, frankly I don't think most people would have, but like with so many gems that can spring out of the blue I'm so glad I happened to discover it because it can really lighten my spirits. I don't usually take to films that are so old, but this one was definitely a new gem to me because it was just so warm and moving, the old man's dialogue and the way he delivered it and the beautiful forest setting, it really touched my heart. I loved the visuals that the cinecolour technique gave the movie, it was almost dreamlike I thought. And that coupled with just how old a picture it is makes it feel like you're looking through a shimmering window into a world from long ago, which I suppose it is now, but I feel we could still learn something from it. Some might just dismiss it as antiquated sappy hokum, and yeah it is indeed a little schmaltzy, but it's also very sincere and sweet and heartfelt and it's got some very well defined and expressed deep themes about how important it is that we preserve the preciousness of life and nature, and of peace of the heart attained through living in harmony with it. The wonderful performance of Harry Davenport as kindly Old John makes the movie, and his beautiful philosophy on life as well as his relationships with the animals around him was all very soothing to me, he talks to the animals because he trusts and understands them and they do him, and you really believe that he loves them all and his forest home very deeply. And the quaint story plays out satisfyingly enough as he takes care of a child that he found washed down the river one day, and he teaches him the lessons that he's learned while doing what he can to protect his world from the destructive encroachment of loggers, and eventually reunite the shrill but cute little boy with the mother that never stopped looking for him. If there's one thing I didn't like it's the ending, it's so rushed, oversimplified and wrapped up but it fits so it's no big deal.. This beautiful little forest fable is well worth discovering if you have a fondness for vintage family films. It has a bit of a rough weathered look to it but trust me, this is one hidden treasure of a film that truly lives up to its name... "Sorrow is hushed into peace in my heart like the evening among the silent trees."
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