The Railway Children Return
Jenny Agutter returns to the film that made her a star over five decades ago, in Morgan Matthews’ spirited, nostalgic sequel.
It’s 1944 and with fears of devastating attacks on British cities, a legion of children is despatched to the countryside to live with surrogate guardians until the conflict is over. There’s Lily (Beau Gadsdon, clearly channelling Bobbie, the character played by Agutter in the original), rebellious Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and her quieter, more sensitive younger sibling Ted (Zac Cudby), who arrive in the quiet Yorkshire village of Oakworth. They end up with Bobbie, now one of the village elders. And as they befriend the local children, the new arrivals’ adventures begin.
Updating E. Nesbit’s story from the Edwardian era to the Second World War is a masterstroke, allowing a degree of contemporaneity to creep into the narrative, while keeping the film resolutely in the spirit of the original. The jeopardy of the original remains – and the war is less a tonal backdrop than an ever-present threat – particularly in the famous train sequence, which makes a welcome appearance in this version. Altogether, The Railway Children Return is a lovely slice of nostalgia-infused entertainment, offering up a rose-tinted image of a Britain that exists just as much on the cusp of idealised fantasy as Lionel Jeffries’ much-loved classic.