Bush Christmas In a small town in Australia, five children riding their horses from school take a forbidden path and meet two strangers, who give them money and make them promise not to tell anyone about them. The two men learn about Lucy. She’s a mare belonging to Mr. Thompson, a sheep farmer and the father of three of the children: Helen (the oldest), John, and six-year-old Snow (so named for the color of his hair). The other two are Michael, an English boy staying with the Thompsons, and Neza, an Australian black who is the son of one of Mr. Thompson’s stock men. The two men (a third one joins them later) prove to be horse thieves, and when Lucy and her foal turn up missing the next morning, the children know it must have been them. Later, the children tell Mrs. Thompson they’re going camping. But their real plan is to find the thieves and get Lucy and the foal back.
an amazing tale of self-sufficiency in a by-gone era
Bush Christmas It’s hard to believe, even by 1940s standards, that kids could either be so independent, or be allowed by their parents to be independent, or for that matter, be represented in a film as being this independent and capable.
On the other hand, I know of USA kids in the late 1990s who were 13/14 years that were left to camp in the wild for a week by parents, and given instructions on how to hike out to a meeting point. I find even that unimaginable, so what do I know of childhood independence?
Overall, it’s a very likable film. No gratuitous sex/violence thrown in, to the point where you don’t fear when the kids get naive about thinking they’re back in civilization when in fact they’re setting themselves up to get caught by the bad guys.
Anyway, this is mostly a film for kids, as it is mostly about kids who survive in the wild so well that they give some horse thieves some serious haranguing. But for parents and adults looking for a view into optimistic child-oriented films of the 1940s, look no further.