Friday, November 4, 2011

The Treasure Seekers (1996)

After enjoying film versions of E. Nesbit's The Railway Children I was really looking forward to seeing The Treasure Seekers (1996). So when I found this film in a DVD family four-pack-set I was delighted. My sister and I watched this film together and were quite pleased with the sweet story and the many familiar actors who kept popping up!

You'll have to excuse the lack of variety in photos for this review. I couldn't find many from this film.

The Bastable Children and Albert-Next-Door
Story: This charming, family adventure is based on a novel by one of Englands most beloved authors, Edith Nesbit. It tells the story of Richard Bastable, an eighteenth century inventor, who is on the verge of perfecting a refrigeration-machine when he runs out of money. His problems get worse when his five imaginative children pitch in to help. Their well-meaning efforts invariably end in disaster, putting the family deeper in jeopardy, despite the watchful eye of their neighbor, a dashing explorer Mr. Carlisle. They have only a few days to save their family home as creditors increase their demands. In spite of the family's gallant efforts and the sympathy and help of a new friend Dr. Mary Leslie, the end looms nigh. They will find that friendship, hard work and perseverance are what will eventually win the day.

Scenes: This isn't a high budget film, it was made as a TV movie, but the scenes are done well. Most of the scenes take place in the Bastable's home and surrounding garden. There are some scenes shot on a train, in a city office and at a stately house.

Young Keira Knightley as Princess Beatrice
Costumes: The costumes were simple and true to the early 1900's time period. They fit the characters very well, nothing too over the top, but there were a few pretty dresses. The girls mostly wore their hair down at home but the eldest girl had a pretty up hairstyle in one scene. The Princess had a pretty white dress and ringlets.

Young Felicity Jones as Alice Bastable
Music: Composed by Tony Flynn, the music is a bit theatrical and doesn't always fit the scenes. But it is well enough and there are a few pretty strains. There are a few pretty piano pieces played by characters in the film. You can listen to the main theme at Tony Flynn's website here.

Princess Beatrice and the Bastable Children
Actors In Their Roles: There were many familiar actors who popped up, two of these were child actors who are now quite popular as adults.
  • Nicholas Farrell as Mr. Bastable - Mr. Henry Bastable is a scatterbrained and care worn inventor on the verge of inventing a refrigeration device. Nicholas Farrell is one of my favorite British character actors and I greatly enjoyed seeing him as the earnest young father of five rambunctious children. The mustache he wore in the film is a bit excessive.
  • Camilla Power as Dora Bastable - As the oldest child, Dora (also called "Dobbs" by her brothers) is the mother hen of her four motherless younger siblings. She works very hard doing household chores, making sure her scatterbrained father stays on schedule and trying to be all grown up though she'd much rather be practicing her music. Camilla Power's acting is a bit affected at times, especially when acting angry and chiding her siblings, but she does an okay job of leading the family.
  • Kristopher Milnes as Oswald Bastable - As the oldest boy Oswald takes a lot of responsibility for his younger siblings, especially his two brothers. He tries to give good advice and cover up for his sibling's mistakes but at heart he's still a boy looking for adventure. 
  • Ben Simpson as Noel Bastable - Noel is a poet and romantic at heart, he works very hard at writing and sacrificially offers up his poems in order to help the family's financial needs. It is he who first meets Dr. Mary Leslie and has an interesting adventure with a train and a publisher because of it. Ben Simpson does a lovely job in the role, he makes Noel one of my favorite characters in this film.
  • Felicity Jones as Alice Bastable - Imaginative and spunky Alice is an artist. She loves playing adventure games with her brothers and assisting in their schemes for restoring the Bastable fortune. I was absolutely delighted to see young Felicity Jones in this tomboy role, she's so pretty, smart and exceedingly talented!
  • William Forde as H.O. Bastable - As the youngest Bastable, H.O. follows his brothers in getting into mischief. He's a funny character and ever optimistic. 
  • Patsy Byrne as Eliza - The five Bastable children have been motherless for quite a few years and Eliza is the stout old housekeeper who cares for the children without much thanks. She can be bad tempered sometimes when times get tough and doesn't stick around too long.  
  • Alexander Harding as Albert-Next-Door - Albert is the boy who lives next door to the Bastables and enjoys taunting them over their garden wall. But he gets his own comeuppance and can be helpful from time to time.
  • James Wilby as Mr. Carlisle - Mr. Carlisle is Albert's uncle who helps the children out of more than a few scrapes and kindly advises Dora and her father. I enjoyed James Wilby in this role of true gentleman, dashing explorer and a great story teller.
  • Gina McKee as Dr. Mary Leslie - Noel happens to meet Dr. Leslie when he returns a parcel she drops. Her medicine skills and influence is of great help to the children, she helps adds music and care to their dark times. Gina McKee was brilliant in this role of the kind and helpful if slightly mysterious charitable lady.
  • Ian Richardson as Mr. Haig - Mr. Bastable's invention takes money and he has the misfortune to be in debt to the ruthless Mr. Haig who demands to be paid. Ian Richardson is very good at playing villains and this role is no exception.
  • Tom Georgeson as Mr. Bates - The bailiff and Mr. Haig's henchman, Mr. Bates is a seedy and imposing character who shows up on the doorstep to take the Bastable's 
  • Keira Knightely as Princess Beatrice - On their adventures the Bastable children meet the rich, pretty but lonely young German princess in her beautiful garden. In her first role on screen at the age of twelve, Keira Knightley is charming though her German accent needs a bit of work. Her role isn't very large it covers one scene.
  • John Sessions as Mr. Redman - This bank manager has a rocky and comical introduction to the Bastable family but his advice is very good and he is very kind. Talented actor John Sessions captures this comical character very well.
  • Donald Sinden as Old Mr. Wincott - In a case of mistaken identity Dora meets up with Old Mr. Wincott and his son Young Wincott who are quite comical characters. I greatly enjoy their scene! 

Ben Simpson as Noel Bastable
My Thoughts: I haven't read the book so I'm not sure how close to the original story it actually is but it's a charming story with much to recommend it. The Bastable children have so many haphazard adventures and they themselves are such interesting characters. It's so much fun to watch their attempts to restore their family fortune. This film has a good message, the best treasure is the love of family and the loyalty of friends. This is a delightful view!

Noel, H.O. and Oswald Bastable
My Recommendation: I highly recommend this film to all families. This film has no inappropriate language or content and is filled with many humorous and fun moments. It is an older film but the story keeps running along with a lot to interest the viewer. It's rare to find a good family film these days and the fact that this is a period set film and adaptation of a classic book is an extra bonus! The Treasure Seekers (1996) is available for purchase on DVD but can also be found for rental on Netflix and online viewing on Amazon and YouTube.

Preview the first two minutes of the film:

Have you seen The Treasure Seekers or read the book?
Do you have a favorite story by E. Nesbit?

Very Truly Your's,


Michaela said...

My family owns this movie, though unfortunately it broke; we picked it up on a whim for about $5 at our Christian book store. It's a very whimsical film, though a bit odd. ;) Love the English accents of course, and it is a very clean, wholesome family movie. Keira Knightly's part is unusual - it doesn't fit into the plot and is way too short. But interesting seeing her as a child anyway. :)

Ella said...

I have never heard of this movie(or the book),but I think I would like it.

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