Why ‘The Railway Children Return’ is relevant in 2022

Watch: Jenny Agutter shares why The return of the railway children still relevant

children’s classic The railway children now has a sequel: The return of the railway children, in theaters Friday, July 15. It’s a new story, a new cast and a familiar face with Jenny Agutter reprising her role as Bobbie from the original 1970 film.

Agutter, 69, tells Yahoo that the World War II set The return of the railway children is more than just a sequel: it’s a movie for now.

“Being able to look at the past, look at 1905 [when E Nesbit’s The Railway Children was originally published]before World War I and then take it to World War II allows you to see how the world has changed,” he explained.

Sheridan Smith and Jenny Agutter in The return of the railway children. (Studiochannel)

“Today it is important to see how we have advanced, but we are still greatly affected by those two wars and we are affected by the war again today. It’s a different time and it allows us to tie all those different periods together.”

Read more: The railway children launch then and now

Like the original, the film is set in the Yorkshire countryside, but the action shifts to World War II, with three young Salford evacuees finding a new home with the local director. The kids discover a fugitive soldier hiding in the local train yard and, discovering that he has been falsely accused of cowardice, they set out to fix things and help him return home.

Watch a trailer for The return of the railway children

And while the film speaks volumes to today’s audiences, there are numerous references to the original that will resonate with anyone who has seen it. Agutter’s co-star John Bradley, who plays the local stationmaster, thinks the film works equally well on both levels.

“We try to make it a tribute, but we also try to update it so that it is relevant for 2022,” said the game of Thrones added the star.

“The script has a light touch where those references are there if you know the original, but it’s not necessarily a prerequisite to getting anything out of this movie. We hope it will make people come back and watch the original again, but this one stands out perfectly as a movie.”

The Return of the Railroad Children (Studiocanal)

John Bradley in The return of the railway children. (Studiochannel)

Those references extend to some of the real characters: Agutter’s Bobbie is now a mother and grandmother, Bradley’s Perks is the grandson of the original stationmaster, played in 1970 by Bernard Cribbins, and Tom Courtenay plays a good-natured uncle whose role was echoes The Old Gentleman (William Mervyn) who greeted children from the train more than 50 years ago.

It was a role the veteran actor was more than happy to take on. “They just wanted a nice, kind guy who was a politician and it worked. I loved being in it.”

Filming for The Railway Children on location in Oakworth in West Yorkshire.  Actor Bernard Cribbins with actresses Sally Thomsett (left) and Jenny Agutter.  (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Bernard Cribbins with Sally Thomsett (left) and Jenny Agutter on set, 1970 The railway children. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Bradley, on the other hand, used Cribbins’ performance in the original as inspiration for his own. “Bernard’s performance in the original is one of the most moving, moving and relatable pieces of acting I’ve ever seen,” she recalled.

“It’s just about using that as a model and seeing what traits I could take from that character to create a new generation of the Perks family.”

Read more: Jenny Agutter talks about nude movie scenes

The return of the railway children It also stars Sheridan Smith, Beau Gadson, Austin Haynes, and KJ Aikens. The original version of The Railway Children premiered in 1970. Based on E Nesbit’s 1905 children’s classic, it was the directorial debut of actor Lionel Jeffries and starred Agutter, Bernard Cribbins, Dinah Sheridan, Sally Tomsett, Ian Cutherbertson and William Mervin.

The return of the railway children opens in theaters on July 15. Check out a clip below.

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