was the middle of Winter, the sun
had just set and it was very, very cold..."
So begins the first of HIT Entertainment's
"Brambly Hedge" films, adapted from
Jill Barklem's glorious picture books.
The hedge in question is a rioutous tangle
of trees, shrubs and brambles that hosts a
rustic mouse community who appear
to have scampered straight out of a Thomas
Here then, in our first tale, night
is drawing in and the Winter wind carries with it a
message. The mice must take heed, snow is on
its way. The more seasoned take
to their houses, mindful of its intent.
But that same snow can't come quick enough
for young Wilfred Toadflax. He's polishing
his toboggan, he's excited and raring to
go. But there's still time for one more
errand. Mother wants him to visit the Store
Stump and collect some honey and clover flower
from Mr Apple. En route midst
the fresh-falling snow Wilfred bumps into Lord
Woodmouse and Lady Eyebright,
who remind him of the most famous Winter
round these parts, when the snow got
so deep it topped the third notch on the Oak
Palace. If (and only if) it gets that deep
again it will be deep enough for a magical
Well, of course, it snows heavily overnight.
And of course, it's deep enough for
a Snow Ball and a magnificent, sparkling
Ice Palace is soon under construction.
Then a little jeopardy is introduced. Wilfred
gets trapped in a snow tunnel with
his pal Primrose and the old gentlemouse
Basil and it looks like they all might
miss the whole event...
But we're not here for clever storytelling,
we're here to kick back with a hot
chocolate and a crackling fire whilst
we marvel at this magical stop-motion film.
The mice are quite real. They are voiced by
a veritable troop of famous British
thespians. The critters wear beautifully
tailored clothes and move around picture
book sets, embellished with intricate decoupage.
The lighting is to die for too.
There's a chilled blue glow everywhere as the
night closes in and tiny micey lamps
dot the hedgerow - invitational warmth,
drawing us in from the cold. There's some
cgi here to bring us falling snow too, but
it's used quite sparingly so that it never
detracts from the handcrafted feel. And
- oh - the climax brings us a whole
host of mousey wonders in that palace,
as the hedgerow inhabitants make
merry music and dance. You know, people
band about the word "timeless"
far too casually nowadays. But this film, and
indeed, all eight films in the
"Brambly Hedge" collection are just
1997 - Bafta Nomination - Best Children's
Hedge: Spring Story
Hedge: The Secret Staircase
Hedge: The High Hills
Hedge: Sea Story
Hedge: Poppy's Babies
Hedge books at Amazon.co.uk
Hedge on DVD
Sadly, the "Brambly Hedge"
films haven't had a co-ordinated UK release.
Here's what currently available:
compilation DVD includes "Winter Story"
2 / HIT Entertainment / December 2005
Hedge: Spring Story
2 / HIT Entertainment
/ April 2007
Hedge: The Classic Collection
2 / "The Secret Staircase", "The High Hills",
/ HIT Entertainment
/ January 2004
a Cosgrove Hall film for HIT Entertainment
in association with the BBC
based on the books by Jill Barklem
& art director:
Plummer-Andrews (for the BBC)
Hall (for Cosgrove Hall)
Fawkes, Peter Orton (for HIT)
Couvela, Barry JC Purves,
Noel Baker, Emma Boyson,
Nathalie Evans, Lucy Gell
Georgina Hayns, Stephen Gannon,
Bethan Jones, Gavin Jones,
Allison Lloyd, Robbie Manning,
Stephen Mearbeck, Shannon O'Neill,
Michell Scattergood, Haydn Secker,
Bridget Smith, Jason Theaker,
Mark Thompson, Christine Walker,
Caroline Wallace, Simon White
Corrigan, Karen Betty,
Richard Sykes, Jeff
Jones, Fiona Randall,
Matti 3D Pictures
Biddulph, Avril Mockett-Turner
Shane Warden, Alan Bishop