Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Children of Green Knowe

Suffering from low-level flu is generally made better by watching something retro and supernatural, so given my current infectious state I've ploughed through the 1986 BBC version of the Green Knowe story. I must confess, although I have very vague memories of it from my childhood, I had lost track of it since and was surprised to rediscover it.

The story carries quite a few elements common to a lot of the rural horror renaissance we're seeing at the moment - a haunted house, evil walking trees, an animated statue and time-slides taking the viewer back to a bucolic vision of the 17th century. However, the BBC adaption is rather less dramatic than this description might at first seem (and I'll come onto that in a moment). It has none of the ominous terror of Children of the Stones or emotional pull of The Moondial, and somehow feels a bit more like the more gentle Five Children and It. As I've just alluded to, the main issue is a general lack of drama - there is little real conflict in the story and, while the main protagonist is quite likable, he has no character arc. I actually found the flashbacks more interesting and was disappointed that the fate of the ancestors (which you learn early on) is not explored at all. This may be an expression of something quite common in 80s childrens' dramas (and the Doctor Who of the era), which is too little story spread over too much airtime so things really plod along.

So it's worth a watch if you're painting and want something on in the background. The sets and some of the visual compositions are nice as are the 17th century costumes (something the BBC always excels at). I also found there's a much more recent Julain "Downton" Fellows movie based on the second book of the series, From Time to Time. I'm quite a fan of his work, and Dame Maggie Smith is awesome, so might check this out.


  1. In the process of painting walking trees, so this one will probably come in handy. Look forwar to see it properly. Promising atmosphere in the early rain filled train travelling shots...

  2. Thanks Stefan! TBH I wouldn't expect much on the walking tree front, as a lot is kept off screen and left to the imagination. The beginning is quite atmospheric though and it gets nicely 'Christmas-ey' later on.