Young Tom Long is forced to stay with his kindly Aunt and Uncle while his brother recovers from a bout of the measles. At their flat, he is disappointed to find there is no garden to play ...
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Tom Long is staying with his Uncle and Aunt. When their grandfather clock strikes thirteen, Tom makes a strange discovery - a portal to the past where only a friendly girl called Hatty can see him. Adapted from a novel by Philippa Pearce.
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Forced to stay with his aunt and uncle for the summer holidays, Tom Long is lonely and bored, until one night he hears the clock strike 13. He suddenly finds himself transported to a magical Victorian garden of the 1880s and meets a girl.
Young Tom Long is forced to stay with his kindly Aunt and Uncle while his brother recovers from a bout of the measles. At their flat, he is disappointed to find there is no garden to play in; but his disappointment turns to wonder when he discovers a magical garden which only appears at night when an old grandfather clock strikes thirteen. His nightly excursions to this beautiful garden become even more interesting when he realises that the people he meets cannot see him - except one young girl named Hattie.Written by
I was entranced by this book as a child, so I was hoping for the best from this film. I wish I was able to say that my hopes were fulfilled.
Let's start with the good things. This film looks very good and, visually at least, belies its low budget. One of the things that digital effects have achieved is to enable inexpensively-made films to look as if they cost more to make than they actually did. The sets and outdoor shots are fine, except for one or two scenes where the (hilly) Isle of Man where the film was shot doesn't completely impersonate the (flat) countryside around Ely where the story is set.
So far, so good. The problems start with the script. It tops and tails the original story with an irritating 'present day' sequence featuring a grown-up Tom. I suppose the writers could find no other way to accommodate a story that is firmly fixed in the 1950s, but these scenes still grate.
Next, there is some fearfully clunky dialogue. Many of the adult actors manage to handle the stuff they have to speak pretty well, but this is unfortunately not true of Anthony Way who plays Tom, and whose acting is little better than the sort of thing you can see in any school play. He was 16-17 when the film was made, so he also looks much too old for the part. Perhaps the low budget led to insufficient rehearsal and shooting time. Some scenes are simply embarrassing.
If you can ignore this poor performance there is much to enjoy here. The atmosphere of 1950s England is nicely recreated, for instance. But, in the end, you may find that you're cringing too much...
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