From Time To Time

From Time To Time


Reviewed by: Leanne McGrath

This haunting ghost story is an old-fashioned family film that will delight both kids and adults. Shunning Harry Potter-style special effects in favour of traditional storytelling, this charming British movie is reminiscent of The Railway Children or The Secret Garden.

It’s the final days of World War II and 13-year-old Manchester lad Tolly is sent to stay with his estranged grandmother Linnet Oldknow in the countryside while his mother goes to war-torn London to search for news of his father, who is missing in action.

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His grandmother’s home is Green Knowe, the family’s house for hundreds of years. As he explores the rambling property and learns about the fascinating history of his family, Tolly is visited by ghostly apparitions of his ancestors and soon finds he can travel back in time to watch them in the early 1800s.

Here, he uncovers clues to unraveling two mysteries - how a wing of the house was burned to the ground and what happened to a horde of stolen jewels. He encounters his ancestor Captain Oldknow - father to the kind-hearted blind Susan and spoiled Septon - who is often away from home in the Napoleonic war.

On a trip home, the Captain brings back runaway slave boy Jacob, who stowed away on his ship from America. He happily welcomes him into his home as a friend and companion to Susan.

The youngsters are soon best friends and adored by the Captain - much to Septon’s fury. He and shady butler Caxton make the lad’s life a misery with their jealously and racism - with horrifying results.

From Time To Time has an important message of tolerance, presented both through Jacob’s experience and that of Tolly’s grandmother. She became estranged from her son because she did not approve of his wife, thinking her working class roots meant she was not good enough for her boy.

Director Julian Fellowes - who also penned the screenplay - masterfully weaves the two times together, presenting the 1940s in a bleak palette of browns and greys, while the past is in rich, vivid colours. The period detail is exquisite and there is plenty of humour and even a couple of scares for the kids.

Reviewed on: 25 Mar 2010
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Ghostly goings on ensue when a youngster is sent to live with his grandma at Green Knowe.
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Director: Julian Fellowes

Writer: Julian Fellowes, based on the stories by Lucy M Boston

Starring: Maggie Smith, Dominic West, Timothy Spall, Alex Etel

Year: 2009

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: UK

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