Whistle Down the Wind

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When an injured wife murderer takes refuge on a remote Lancashire farm, the owners three children mistakenly believe him to be the Second Coming of Christ.

ACTORS : Alan Bates, Bernard Lee, Norman Bird, Hayley Mills

YEAR OF RELEASE : 1961

SHIPPING COST : Australia Free

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Whistle Down the Wind  Little Kathy discovers a man wanted for murder hiding in her family’s barn. When she asks him who he is, he says Jesus Christ just before he goes unconscious. Kathy and her siblings are convinced that he is Jesus, and try to hide him from grown-ups.

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A movie about faith…with a cynical edge

Whistle Down the Wind  Adolescent English farm-girl discovers an escaped, bearded convict sleeping in the family barn and thinks he’s Jesus. Young Kathy needs to believe this, even after the police come to cart him away. He even drops a picture of the Savior, which seems to symbolize not only the prisoner’s fall from grace but one more sign for Kathy that, yes, this mysterious man might be Him. “Whistle Down the Wind” is a hard-shelled movie that says we lose hope and faith as we mature–which isn’t an original idea for a film, but the cynical way this is presented catches you off-guard. One little boy numbers the eggs he has has eaten (a mixture of his bemusement and his feeling of monotony), one little girl vows to keep counting until Kathy comes out of the barn. These children need to believe too, of course, but they’re much more raw than Kathy; they strip ideas down to the basics. Kathy believes blindly. It’s a touching character, the centerpiece of the film, and I was enchanted by Hayley Mills’ open face and yearning smile. The other youngsters are also remarkable. If the film doesn’t offer us fanciful answers, it does provide playful bits of visual humor. Even the rhythm of the kids’ words is comical (and the way they relate to one another seems very natural). The film gives away nothing without an eternal struggle, and at the end there is no clear answer. I believe the next day would become routine for the children, they would go back to their basics. But Kathy has changed, and the convict has as well. Their lives intersected for a moment, and, though others became involved, they both learned something from the other about the need to believe.

Beautiful, nostalgic film

 
Whistle Down the Wind has remained one of my favourite films ever since I saw it as a young child many years ago when my parents took me to see it when it was originally released. The performances by all the children in the film are charming and Alan Bates excels as the criminal who is mistaken for Jesus. For me, the special aspects of the film are its genuine innocence and the capturing of a much simpler time in England that will never return. I myself was born and grew up in the north in an area similar to the one shown in the film and today, now aged 48, watch the film with great nostalgia and a warm feeling about my carefree life as a child. I also feel sadness that many children in our country today cannot enjoy the freedom to roam and play far and wide as I (and the children in the film) could do at that time. I have never met anyone who didn’t enjoy this underrated classic and defy anyone not to be moved by the naturalness of the performances. A marvelous addition to anyone’s DVD collection and one that I treasure.

 

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