If you get the chance, take a look at this delightfully whimsical film set in Edwardian England in the early 1900s.
It is an adaptation of a novella written by fantasy author Lord Dunsany which was published in 1936 and is one of those rare films which doesn’t quite fit into any specific genre apart from being funny in a quirky British way.
Jeremy Northam plays Henslowe Fisk, who every week reluctantly visits his cantankerous father Horatio played by the marvellous Peter O’Toole (of Lawrence of Arabia fame). Horatio has refused to mourn his other son who was killed in the Boer War.
One day Henslowe takes his father to see a talk given by a visiting swami about the ‘transmigration of souls’ – reincarnation, especially dogs who come back as humans. There they meet clergyman Dean Spanley (Sam Neill).
Henslowe and Spanley later have dinner and it transpires that after Spanley has had several glasses of his favourite tipple – Hungarian Imperial Tokay wine – he begins to relate how in a previous life he was a Welsh spaniel dog.
It turns out that the cranky Horatio also had a Welsh spaniel when he was a boy. The film explores relationships between father and son and master and dog and slowly the relevance of both relationships is revealed to the audience.
The movie could have easily gone down the Disney route, relying on cuteness to get across its message but thankfully director Toa Fraser, despite being a New Zealander, sticks firmly to its British roots and uniqueness.