When honest young Tolly Pickering is forced on the run with a villainous ruffian named Black Jack adventure and mishap are never far away. As the two enter a world of bodysnatchers, private lunatic asylums and travelling fairs they find friendship in the most unlikely places.
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A film for children that doesn't talk down to them, or shelter them from the harshness of society.... and not just any society.... 18th century society. A realistic take on Leon Garfield's young adult novel. Leon Garfield has to be equally credited here for his efforts to bring such stories to older children everywhere.
Quite a beautiful, striking, and evidently sadly underseen film. It never becomes as bawdy or creepy-Guignol as the Joan Aiken-esque material might dictate, due to the naturalistic and underplayed hands of Loach and the actors, but there's still a considerable and potent atmosphere. A highly immersive movie, with a mysterious but kind of perfect ending.