Warning: If you are thinking of watching this film, DON’T watch the video clip above, as it pretty much tells the whole story! I did try to find a clip of just the trailer, but incredibly was unable to do so.
This story is based on the novel of the same name, by Steve Szilagyi. The book in turn was inspired by the real life events surrounding the Cottingley Fairy pictures. However, the events shown here are fictional, and names and circumstances have been changed.
Toby Stephens is excellent as Charles Castle, a photographer who is devastated and loses the will to live after his wife dies on their honeymoon in 1912. After fighting in Word War 1, he sets up a photography business, and is initially cynical when shown photographs which appear to depict two young sisters playing with fairies. However, as he digs a little deeper into the mystery, he starts to question his initial disbelief and wonder if indeed fairies do exist. His investigations take him to the village where the girls live, where he discovers that eating a specific flower slows down time and allows him to see the fairies for himself. In exploring the phenomena further, Charles finds himself becoming obsessed with finding out the truth…
(If all this sounds slightly ludicrous, it’s worth remembering that many people fully believed that the Cottingley Fairy pictures were genuine, including none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, who is also a minor character in this film.)
I loved this film…I confess I only initially watched it because I am a fan of Toby Stephens, but I soon found myself wrapped up in this lovely story. It really doesn’t matter whether or not you believe in fairies (I don’t), because the story is beautiful enough to carry you away, at least for its duration.
The supporting cast were all excellent – Phil Davis as Charles’ friend Roy, Emily Woof as Linda – the nanny to the two girls, and especially Ben Kingsley who was magnificent in a very disturbing turn as an intolerant Reverend and the father of the two girls. The Reverend despises Charles and his presence in the village, and his anger is pivotal to the plot.
Stephens depiction of a grieving man who feels dead inside, is touching and sad, and beautifully realised.
The film works is a lovely looking period drama, and makes lovely use of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, II. Allegretto, as a recurring piece of music throughout the film. The excellent cast raise this from a good to a great film. Unfortunately the film is nigh on impossible to find on DVD, and only pops up on television very rarely, meaning that it is largely unknown. However, if you ever get the chance to see this magical poetic story, I would highly recommend it.
Year of release: 1997
Director: Nick Willing
Writers: Steve Szilagyi (book), Chris Harrald, Nick Willing
Main cast: Toby Stephens, Ben Kingsley, Emily Woof, Phil Davies