The infamous, true story of the Cottingley fairies inspired a media circus back in 1917. Cousins Elsie and Frances claimed to have discovered fairies living in a meadow and took photographs showing the winged creatures as they played with them. The girls' claims catapult the family into fame as the imagination of the public is well and truly captured by the images. The family face a barrage of scrutiny from sceptical journalists and curious members of the public, and celebrities such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini become involved in the magical mystery.
This 1997 film is loosely based on the true life story and boasts a star studded cast including Peter O'Toole, Harvey Keitel, Paul McGann and Bill Nighy.
The issue of whether the photos are real or faked, challenges the beliefs of all involved. Some want to believe with all their hearts, others stringently attempt to disprove their authenticity, steadfastly refusing to publicly acknowledge the existence of fairies.
In the aftermath of World War I, both girls have suffered personal tragedies in their lives, but their imagination, innocence and sense of wonder leads them into this incredible journey. The time is right for the world to want to believe in magic and to recapture its innocence.
In the real life version of events, the photos are renounced as fakes, but the film is more open minded to the fairies' existence and to life's mysteries. This allows a real sense of wonder and magic to be brought into the storytelling.
This film is beautifully shot and the gentle story and excellent acting go together to produce an enchanting family movie. It also makes the viewer think about whether perhaps there is more to the world than meets the eye, and makes us question to what extent our cynicism prevent us from finding out about it. As grown-ups we lose our ability to truly believe. This film reminds us that perhaps we should remember how to make the impossible possible again.
This lovely film is available on DVD on March 23rd 2015 courtesy of Icon Film Distribution, rated certificate U.