Parents' Guide to

The Railway Children

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Great British book-based classic is rewarding for families.

Movie G 1970 109 minutes
The Railway Children Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 6+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 4+

A Sure Journey To Enjoyment

First; The '2000 version: Regarding the often asked question; which version is the best...1970 or 2000? It’s probably a balance of personal preference. Both versions have unique qualities, so maybe it’s best to watch each a week or so apart. Perhaps there’s something about the latter that keeps the story unfolding in a more natural fashion (less quirky) and the cast seem easier to accept as natural (again, personal interpretations). E. Nesbit’s book leaves itself open to the makings of a great family movie classic - with many emotions based on her own life experiences (siblings and family members) It’s easy to find endearing qualities within each and every character, young or old, and the viewer can’t help but wish for the best outcomes for all - even without any manipulation from the moviemakers (and that’s saying something) Jemima Rooper gives a stand-out performance as Roberta (Bobbie). The striking locations and variety of gloriously preserved full steam trains (Bluebell Railway) are a joy to behold! You can’t help but wish you were there. Photography, music, editing, all add up to superior entertainment for any age group – quite not to be missed and the ‘studio’ DVDs are very good. Now the '70s version; For many, this 1970 production is the definitive version of E. Nesbit’s perennial classic family novel, it was also actor Lionel Jeffries first attempt at directing a feature film. Jeffries read and was captivated by the book - so secured the movie rights, wrote a screenplay, then sort producer Brian Forbes’ agreement to finance the venture. So successful was the film both financially and critically, Jeffries often gave up being in front of camera and went on to direct several other wonderful features (probably the most sophisticated being “Baxter” ’73 with Scott Jacoby, Patricia Neal and Britt Ekland). The cast of the Railway Children has been handpicked to perfection for both versions - with all players wearing their characters like a glove, Jenny Agutter who plays the eldest daughter came back 30 yrs later taking the role of the mother in the re-make. There are special thoughts being spun both on screen and off within both productions – with settings for the 70s vers being a sheer joy. The Keighley and Worth Railway society supply the eye-popping steam locomotives and fully preserved heritage carriages. Watching these magnificent trains travelling through the lush areas of the West Yorkshire countryside and traversing the unique Oakworth station is a special treat. This multi-nominated movie offers something for almost everyone, drama, humour, suspense, with a worthy nod to the importance of committed, selfless behaviour, for both family and all our shared community relationships. It also features stand out photography by Arthur Ibbetson and a neat music score by composer Johnny Douglas. Director Jeffries had a healthy respect for his cast and audience, and his end-credits were often given unique treatments. For this production, he assembles the entire cast to present the closing credits in a warm and personal style, right to the very last title card. Whenever you get a chance to see “The Railway Children” don’t miss it. A high-quality 40th Anniversary digital master was struck off to honour this timeless classic.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
1 person found this helpful.
age 7+

The Railway Children 2000 Version

The music did not fit the story. In the 2000 version of this story there is an insinuation of the bachelor doctor being an immoral man. Roberta innocently asks him to be in the "ladies club" so that she and her mother do not have to pay as large of a bill. The lady who recommended this to her said that the doctor's hands were warm. The man does not harm Roberta or her mother, but this was distracting from the main story. The main good message of this story is that of the children's love for their father, their generosity toward the people of the town and the fact that though they had been rich they are not stuck up toward the poor. Their love for their mother is very good as well in their sacrifices for her.

This title has:

Great messages
Too much sex

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (2):

This movie is remarkably gentle and old-fashioned, but with several wonderfully unexpected touches. Adapted and directed by Lionel Jeffries, The Railway Children is perhaps better known in England than it is in the US. Both the British Film Institute and Time Out London chose it as one of the 100 greatest British films of all time.

Weirdly dreamlike sequences sporadically occur, as when Roberta (also known as "Bobby") celebrates her birthday and appears to drift through the room, or when a tree begins moving by itself. The score, by Johnny Douglas, is also quite delightful and highlights several tension-relieving comical moments. The drama could have been distressing, and/or grueling, but instead Jeffries treats it lightly by using a format of mostly unrelated incidents as well as themes of hope, resourcefulness, and helpfulness. The casting and performances are exceptional, and especially the three charming children, who are in almost every scene. This movie deserves to be better known.

Movie Details

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