Reviewed by: Dave Rettig
Starring: Frances McDormand, Nigel Hawthorne, Hatty Jones, Ben Daniels, Arturo Venegas, Chantal Neuwirth, Kristian de la Osa / Director: Daisy von Scherler Mayer / Released by: Tri-Star/Sony
For three generations, children and adults alike have enjoyed the simple verse of Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeline. Now today’s generation can experience “Madeline” on the big screen. Madeline (Hatty Jones) is a mischievious orphan girl living with eleven other girls under the supervision of Miss Clavel (Frances McDormand). All is peaceful in the ivy covered house, until the girls' benefactor Lady Covington (Stephane Audran) passes away. Now Lord Covington (Nigel Hawthorne) wishes to sell the school house, and it’s up to Madeline, her friends, and Miss Clavel to save the day.
“Madeline” is a charming story drawn from the pages of Ludwig Bemelman’s children books. The characters are brought to life wonderfully on the big screen. The story is simple and predictable, much like the books the film is based on. Overall, the film is true to the vision of Bemelman’s Madeline. Although older children may find the story slow paced, “Madeline” is very enjoyable.
“Madeline” is the cleanest, most wholesome film I have seen in the last two years. I could not find a single incident of morally offensive material (save for two instances of “damn” used as an exclamation). There is just a touch of humanist spirit (“I can do anything” becomes Madeline’s mantra and some of the characters are not “bad” just “misunderstood”) and the prayer life of the characters is feeble; however, the fact that a movie would portray a praying character is nothing less than a miracle! I enjoyed watching a film without wincing once!
I enthusiastically recommend “Madeline”. The story is simplistic but the moral content is so redeeming that I cannot help but praise this film. Take your kids to “Madeline” and then share the wonderful series of books as well!
Year of Release—1998