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The Railway Children Return (Blu-ray Review)

3 min read

Studio Canal

Remember when you were a kid, and you'd be learning about life at home during World War Two in history and you'd have to watch Goodnight, Mr. Tom or Hope and Glory? Well, from now on, kids will be watching The .

The question remains though, are they still rolling out those big TVs on trolleys with a clunky VHS player under it? Probably not, it's all projectors now. How things change.

And change is central to Children Return. Set in the same town as the 1970 original, Bobbie () is now a grandmother, emotionally supporting her daughter and Grandson as her son in law is away at war.

Studio Canal

The village of Oakworth is also host to some visitors, evacuees from Manchester and a platoon of American soldiers. Unfortunately, the white American soldiers have tried to bring their own rules of segregation to this quiet British village, and Black soldiers who should be fighting alongside them are instead subject to ostracism and abuse.

Central to are three evacuees, elder sister Lily (Beau Gadsdon), middle child Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and baby brother Ted (Zac Cudby). They are taken in by Bobbie's daughter, Annie () and her son Thomas (Austin Haynes). Used to different kinds of freedoms, the combination leads the city kids to encourage Thomas to play with them near the railway. They come across a young Black soldier, Abe (KJ Aikens) hiding in a train cart, trying to get home. Despite initially disregarding Abe as a deserter, they soon discover that he has lied about his age hoping to avenge his brother, and that he is now facing racially motivated abuse and missing his mother. The four English children decide to help Abe, and use some of Thomas's grandmother's old tricks in the process.

Studio Canal

The Railway Children Return isn't going to win any awards, but it's a charming enough Sunday afternoon (or previously mentioned history lesson) movie. Stories about displaced children have always had some longevity. From ‘The Narnia Chronicles' to ‘The Secret Garden', there's something enduring about watching how children cope when taken away from their parents and given new lands to explore. Some of us found the idea appealing though it's hard to imagine now. Additional to this The Railway Children Return has some more unusual aspects that haven't been seen in a film of this type before. The under-representation of Black soldiers in times of war has been a long-term problem, and here there are attempts to correct that alongside other issues.

The disc has a small but very accessible and quite interesting selection of bonus features. They will hopefully give some insight to young viewers into how the film was made and developed and why certain choices were made. Particularly nice is the inclusion among the talking heads of historians, who confirm the accuracy of certain events.

The Railway Children Return does exactly what it says on the tin, and does it inoffensively and charmingly. You could do a lot worse.

The Railway Children Return will be available on Digital Download from 30th September and Blu-ray and DVD from 3rd October.