When The Whales Came

Watch When The Whales Came

"A story so enchanting you'll wish it were real."
  • PG
  • 1989
  • 1 hr 40 min
  • 6.1  (455)

When The Whales Came, released in 1989 and directed by Clive Rees, is a drama-adventure film set in the early 20th century on the English Channel Island of Bryher, where two young children discover a deepening conflict between two island factions over the appearance of a pod of whales. The story unfolds through the eyes of two young children, Thomas (played by David Timson) and his friend, the orphan Gracie (played by Helen Mirren), who live on the small island of Bryher, situated between Tresco and Samson. They lead a life of simple pleasures: running, jumping along the beaches, swimming, and picking up marine treasures on the shore.

Their contented, uncomplicated life is thrown into disarray when a pod of whales appears in the waters surrounding the island. This news spreads like wildfire across the island, stirring up mixed emotions, and a host of troubles.

The drama begins to unfold when Thomas's father (played by Paul Scofield) is confronted with the notion proposed by a stranger, Beckett (David Threlfall), that the song of the whales will "kill the people, dry up the crops, and turn the milk sour." Despite the warning against watching over the whales, Thomas and Gracie remain insistent that they must meet them.

During their exploration, they come across an old man named St. John (Max Rennie), who lives alone in a deserted cottage. St. John tells them about a legend concerning the whales from many years ago when a group of Irish pilgrims was saved by them, and how their fate is still bound with the whales.

The story takes a dark turn when Beckett convinces many of the islanders that the whales bring bad luck and are best hunted down for their baleen, which is a valuable organic material used to make various things, including corsets and other undergarments of the time.

The island subsequently splits into two factions, one group supporting the hunt for the whales, while the other calling for leaving them unharmed. Bloodshed ensues, and it becomes a matter of who wins the argument, the side that would continue to hunt and kill the whales, or the one that seeks peace and harmony.

When The Whales Came features exceptional performances by the cast, particularly that of Helen Mirren, who plays Gracie. Mirren’s portrayal of a wise, quick-thinking, and fearless child adds depth and poignancy to the film. Paul Scofield, as Thomas's father, brings a balance of skepticism and anxiety to his role, making him an integral part of the film.

The film's cinematography is breathtaking, with scenes beautifully shot and edited to create a sense of wonder and drama. The camera captures the waves, the rocky cliffs of the coast, and the quiet, tranquil life of the Islanders.

The film's music is another standout, adding an eerie and atmospheric vibe that enhances the story's already magical feel. The soundtrack, composed by Ennio Morricone, brings the film's sound elements together and helps set the mood for the film's tense and triumphant moments.

In conclusion, When The Whales Came is a delightful adventure drama that highlights the myth and legend of the natural world. The film's stunning visuals, combined with the unusual plot and compelling performance by all actors, make it a must-watch. The film will undoubtedly capture the imagination of children and adults alike and will have viewers eagerly await every moment of this festive and enriching story.

When The Whales Came
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 40 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.1  (455)