The Little Kidnappers by Neil Paterson
Eight out of 10
The Little Kidnappers is a very endearing story, with children as the main characters, albeit this is not a Disney, light type of entertainment.
The motion picture has won two Honorary Academy Awards for the extraordinary boys that give heartwarming, sensitive, intelligent, exquisite performances that are beyond reach for most of the adult actors and this for all films, not this one in particular.
The Little Kidnappers has also been nominated for the BAFTA Awards for Best British film, Best Film from any Source and Best British Actor.
Furthermore, it was on the shortlist for what is for many, including the under signed, the most important cinematic festival of all:
The Cannes Film Festival of 1954.
Finally, to end the accolades received by this great black and white story, it was included on The New York Times’ Best 1,000 movies Ever Made list:
The narrative is poignant, relevant in the present, in an age when nationalists are on the rise, emigrants are rejected by trump and his primitive supporters in America, where they keep talking about the “beautiful, big wall on the border with Mexico” which will even pay for it in the minds of stupid people.
Jim MacKenzie is a Scotsman, a harsh, unforgiving man, strict, inflexible and rather abusive to the children – although one must take into account the different standards of that period.
The old man lives with his family in Nova Scotia, where he takes care of the heroes of this story, his grandsons, Harry and Davy.
Given that their father had died in the Boer War, the grandfather has a strong hatred for Dutchmen, in the way so many people in the world today resent immigrants for various crimes committed – or often only wrongly attributed – to individuals from various lands, where, like anywhere on the globe, there are good and some bad people.
The fact that some have been involved in violence, even killing, does not mean that we have to try and take revenge on all that community – especially when talking about an armed conflict where many, if not most participants have been obliged to take orders.
Jim MacKenzie is very quick to threaten anybody crossing, or trespassing as he calls it, onto his land, even when the law states that another person has rights where the Scotsman feels it is his property.
Even when the Dutch local doctor, Willem Bloem, helps Harry he is told by the daughter of the vengeful MacKenzie, Kirsty, to depart as soon as possible from their house, for once home, the old father would not hesitate to shoot the good physician.
The doctor thinks that the young woman feels he is too old for her, but he is wrong, and a strong feeling bonds the two people, although their love might have the fate of Romeo and Juliet, given that they belong to two different communities, in that the Scotsman hates the Dutch as aforementioned.
Harry and Davy have found an advertisement that states that they could have a dog for thirteen dollars and fifty cents – that would be a few hundred at the value of the currency with present rates.
Nevertheless, grandfather opposes the idea, he is if not an absolute tyrant, and close to a sadistic ruler at least up to the point where he might change his mind and see that he was wrong in his loathing of neighbors who are actually very kind and generous human beings.
However, before that change might happen, a serious event occurs, when Harry and Davy find a baby care for him with tenderness, but they are accused of the serious crime announced by the title:
The Little Kidnappers
It is so horrible that in those days it was punishable with death by hanging, only given the age of the suspects, they could well face other punishments, including being sent to rehabilitation, reeducation school.
The accused testify that they have meant no harm, even if the judge and others have suspected that their intent could have been malicious, considering the animosity, conflict between the Scots grandfather and the Dutch families.
The result of the judgment could be a hard blow for the boys, or, on the other hand might be an opportunity for reconciliation, the discovery of qualities, values, kindness that have been missed in the fog of war…