Figure 1.--The TV adaption is a wonderful depiction of Magorian's book "Goodnight Mr. Tom". The British during World War II conducted one of the largest mass movements of people in history, an effort to protect their children from the German Luftwaffe.
The British during World War II conducted one of the largest mass movements of people in history. Terrified of the German Luftwaffe, the British set planned well before the outbreak of the War in 1939 to evacuate children and others at risk such as the eldely in old folks homes and hospital patients to the villages and small towns of Britain. For the most part the children were cared for by individual British families that hoped their homes to to evacuee children. Many of the children were quite young. Their experiences are a touching chapter in the vast tapestry of World War II. There is a considerable literature both fiction and non-fiction on the experiences of these children. One of the touching novels is Goodnight Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian. It was adapted for television in an excellent 1998 British made for TV movie.
The beautifully done British TV production, Goodnight Mr. Tom is about a boy evacuee at the beginning of World War II who was billeted on a elderly man. The British evacuated many children from London and the large cities during 1939-41 to move them into safer areas as the Germans in 1940 began bombing British cities in the Battle of Britain. They were taken in by private citizens in non-industrial cities, rural areas and villages. (The Germans later did the same, but the children were mostly housed in camps.) Many British families pitched in an opened their houses to the children. The need was so great, however, that some local authorities had to use some degree of persuasion. In this case, elderly Tom didn't at first want an evacuee, but the need was so great he eventually was convinced to take in a boy. Many of the films addressing the evacuation deal wirh instances where the evacuee children were mistreated. In this production it was the boy's mother that was mistreating him. This is a well written and wonderfully acted production. The boy's performance is particularly effective. The boy was wonderfully played by Nick Robinson in the 1998 film. His friend was played by Thomas Orange. The costuming is very accurate. The boys in the village wear a variety of outfits, including both corduroy short trousers and matching lumber jackets. Nick wore the classic schoolboy garb or long dark shorts, gray shirt and sweater and a long overcoat. He wore his schools stockings mostly around the ankles. His freind wore a brightly-colored vertically striped sweater.
The TV movie was based on the novel of the same name by Michelle Magorian. The TV adaptation reasonably follows the book, given the time constraints of any film. An English reader writes, "In the book Tom and a couple of kids go on holiday for a week or so. I thought leaving out the holiday from the TV movie was a mistake because the relationships
are made stronger."
The British evacuated many children from London and the large cities during 1939-41 to move them into safer areas as the Germans in 1940 began bombing British cities in the Battle of Britain. They were taken in by private citizens in non-industrial cities, rural areas and villages. (The Germans later did the same, but the children were mostly housed in camps.)
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