Best in Show: Don Henderson (well, it was his last film)
One for the future: Florence Hoath and Elizabeth Earl
Stand-out scene: Ending
Brainer or no-brainer: Brainer
Stands up to one viewing or repeated?: Repeated
DVD commentary any good?: n/a
One of those movies with themes that come in two's (It's sister production was Photographing Fairies - which I have on disc but have yet to see). The story of the Cottingley Fairies, in which several black and white snapshots were purportedly taken by two children of real fairies in the leafy woodland behind the home of the Wright family cottage, is something i've been aware of for years. In today's Photoshop age we take digital manipulation of images for granted so it's fascinating that these - to our eyes obviously faked - images managed to convince even the most experienced photographers of their authenticity back in the 1920s. Some sixty years after they were taken, Elsie Wright (13 at the time the first snap was taken) and her cousin Frances Griffiths (at 10 the younger of the duo) confessed that they had used cut out pictures on Bristol board stood on hat pins when taking the photos. However, they did maintain that fairies did exist, they had just faked the proof, a sentiment echoed in this movie. Arthur Conan Doyle was famously one of those fooled; it was his article in The Strand magazine that first carried sharpened-up images of the photos and this movie also embroils Houdini (Harvey Keitel) in the saga as a device to highlight a child's capacity to believe. Period detail and sterling work from Florence Hoath and Elizabeth Earl as the girls mean that this is a family film for all to enjoy. Amongst the adults involved there's Peter O'Toole, Paul McGann, Bill Nighy and Bob Peck on board, with Tom McInnery as an investigative reporter who finds evidence of the deception when he breaks in to the Wright cottage (one of several fictions in the film). As yet, I cannot comment on whether this is the better of the two movies on the Cottingley Fairies theme, but Photographing Fairies will have to go a long way to match this. The fleeting glimpse of Mel Gibson as Frances' father (it's his production company behind the movie) is a plus point too.