Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, James Garner
Director: William Wyler
Running Time: 108 mins
The Children’s Hour is an American film about two teachers at an all-girls boarding school whose lives fall into despair after they are accused by a mischievous little girl of being lesbians.
This film works brilliantly on so many different levels. Along with its stunning central performances, it has a thrilling and intriguing story that keeps you immersed in its world for the whole duration, while it’s incredibly emotionally harrowing to watch at the same time.
I will admit that this film does take quite a while to get going, at least 40 minutes for the main story to erupt, but what surprised me was how entertaining and interesting the opening stages still were.
Amidst the seemingly serene atmosphere of this girls school, there are indications throughout that something is going to blow. You’ve got your generic teacher-pupil sparring as well, but it appears, so subtly, during that period that tensions are much higher than they should be, making it a thrilling waiting game.
Once the main story turns up, though, all hell breaks loose. In stark contrast to what was an extremely positive vibe that you got from the opening stages of the film, an incredibly dark and gloomy atmosphere lurks over the story for the remainder, turning what was a normal school story into quite a harrowing and dark plot.
The initial confusion for the accused teachers is also a fascinating period, as you remain firmly on their side throughout, meaning, although you do know the reason why this sudden persecution is happening, that you feel quite confused and hurt by what’s going on.
As things spiral, it’s easy to tell the horrific impact this accusation is, and seeing as its made by a supposedly innocent little girl, it’s impossible for the characters to hit back, creating a real sense of frustration as you watch this, however that makes it all the more hard-hitting.
What the main core of the ultimate stages of the film is, though, is the emotional impact that it has on its two main characters, and in turn you, the viewer. The story takes a tone down away from a chaotic persecution, and finishes with a simple look at how terrible this whole ordeal has been for the two teachers, and as you see this, you feel quite hurt at the same time.
Overall, this gets an 8.2, because it’s a fascinating, thrilling and emotionally harrowing tale that had me glued to the screen from start to finish.