High Hills - You're going to the High Hills?
Oh, Mr Apple, may I go too?"
It's a misty autumnal morning, on the cusp
of Winter. An inspiring morning,
as it happens, because Young Wilfred Toadflax
has been dreaming of explorers,
and reading about them in his favourite book
"Daring Explorers of Olde Hedgeways".
Wilfred wants nothing more than to follow
in the footsteps of his hero, Sir Hogweed
Lucky for Wilfred, his dream is about to come
true. Mr and Mrs Toadflax have
been weaving blankets for the Voles who live in
the High Hills, to keep them snug
through the winter months. They're dyed with a
unique gold lichen - Great Grandpa
Blackthorn's special lichen - which grows in the mountains,
in some long lost
location. Alas, it's now run out. Still, they've
enough blankets for the time
being, and they and Mr Apple will soon be
off to deliver their wares. And
- yes - Wilfred can come too, provided he gets
permission from his parents.
It doesn't take much begging from the youngster
to get their agreement, and
two provisos. He must be helpful, and he must
always do what Mr Apple says.
Our Wilfred eagerly agrees, of course, and he takes
additional advice from the
words of Sir Hogweed Horehound.
good explorer should take in his trusty pack, all he
needs to survive an adventure..."
Wilfred's own pack is positively brimming
with trusty equipment and provisions.
And although it draws a few chuckles from his family
and friends, it's safe to say
that its contents actually prove more than useful
as his adventure in High Hills
Thus begins the sixth film in the "Brambly
Hedge" series. And yet again,
it's a feast for the eyes and the ears. Each
frame is imbued with such
seasonal detail and atmosphere. Here
we have the grey mists of Autumn
on show, with muted colours in the landscape,
and the little inhabitants
are swaddled in thick scarves and coats as
they embark on their mini
adventure. Gosh, the tailoring is magnificent.
There are such textures and
stitches in those minute mousey clothes.
And the lighting is extraordinary.
Wilfred and Mr Apple get lost in the High
Hills, and as the fog surrounds them,
so they are enveloped in chilly grey and violet
hues. Meanwhile, their concerned
friends and relatives flit between the houses
of the hedgerow, lit with
cozy orange firelight which spills through
the windows, drawing them
towards company and kinship...
Once more, little Wilfred steals the show.
He is instilled with such enthusiasm
for his little adventure, from whiskers to tail.
And it's balanced by Mr Apple's
sturdiness. They may be lost, and his old injured
paw may well be troubling
him so, but Mr Apple remains steadfast and
true for his little companion.
And admiring of him too, for Wilfred proves to
be the pluckiest of his explorers
with his trusty pack. There's a fair bit of
drama in this tale, with some suitably
vertiginous camerawork accompanying the pair
as they climb the hills. Their
whitewater descent includes some ambitious
and clever juxtapositioning, with
the models riding computer generated rapids.
It all ends safely, back home at the
hedgerow and another of this series' exquisite
delights: The multi character
shot. This viewer counted thirteen excitable
mice crammed in to frame,
enthusing to Wilfred's tales of adventure
with Mr Apple.
So what we have here is yet another flawless
adaptation to savour. Students
should be forced to watch this, to see just
how much craftsmanship has gone
in to bringing Jill Barklem's mousey world
to life. Oh, and let's not forget
the voice cast. Jim Broadbent works wonders
with Mr Vole, a rustic man
of the hills whom you feel you've known all
of your life already. And Wilfred's
enthusiasm, and Primrose's precious concern
for her friend. Ah, t'is great.
These are films to watch on a chilly evening, cosseted
in front of the fire
with cocoa and cake - especially the tales
set in Autumn and Winter,
when the film makers really go to town with
the seasonal toning...
Come... gather round... fetch a blanket for
snuggling and we'll watch
Hedge: Spring Story
Hedge: The Secret Staircase
Hedge: Sea Story
Hedge books at Amazon.co.uk
Hedge on DVD
"The High Hills" is included
in this four film compilation:
Hedge: The Classic Collection
2 / "The Secret Staircase", "The High Hills",
/ HIT Entertainment
/ January 2004
Then there are these two releases:
Hedge: Spring Story
2 / HIT Entertainment
/ April 2007
compilation DVD includes "Winter Story"
2 / HIT Entertainment / December 2005
a HOT Animation production
for HIT Entertainment PLC
in association with the BBC
based on the books by Jill Barklem
exec producers: Theresa
Plummer-Andrews (for the BBC)
Fawkes, Peter Orton (for HIT)
& sup director: Jackie
sup animator: Paul
Laban, Jud Walton,
Cottee, Timon Dowdeswell
Hayns, Bethan Jones,
Lloyd, Darren Marshall,
Scattergood, Bridget Smith,
Sutcliffe, Mark Thompson,
Geraldine Corrigan, Karen Betty, Clare
Fletcher, Lucy Beckett
Richard Sykes, Jeff
art direction: Yvonne
Fox, Barbara Biddulph
prod assistants: Bella
Reekie, Macushla Carney
for HIT: Karen
asst camera: Shirlaine
dubbing mixer: Aard
gen images: Colin
post production: Shane
Warden, Alan Bishop
Robert Lindsay (narrator)
Neil Morrisey (Wilfred Toadflax)
Charlotte Coleman (Primrose Woodmouse)
Jim Broadbent (Basil / Ernest Vole)
June Whitfield (Mrs Apple / Heather
Michael Williams (Mr Apple)
Rosemary Leach (Lady Daisy Woodmouse
/ Old Mrs Eyebright)
Anton Rodgers (Lord Woodmouse)
Alun Lewis (Mr Toadflax)
Noreen Kershaw (Mrs Toadflax / Mrs Crustybread)
Kate Harbour (additional voices)
David Holt (Teasel /additional voices)
World of Brambly Hedge
The official site including some
handy details on the
development of the films...
The studio behind the hedgerow...
They made the mousey models and