Time and worlds collide and merge in this suspenseful British film based on the 1958 children’s book “The Chimneys of Green Knowe” by Lucy M. Boston. An old family manor, Green Knowe, which has survived two centuries, a devastating fire, and a loss in fortune, begins to give up its dead and its long-buried secrets.Thirteen-year-old Tolly Oldknowe (Alex Etel), whose father is missing in action in the last days of World War II, is sent to stay with his grandmother in the venerable Oldknowe manor. He hasn’t seen Mrs. Oldknowe (Maggie Smith), since he was a small child. Relationships between her and her son David’s family have been strained for years.
Though their renewed acquaintance is awkward at first, both grandmother and grandson display a similar characteristic. They both speak their minds in a plain and straightforward manner. Taking their measure of each other, they begin to like what they see and find many things in common, not least of which is their love for the son and the father who is missing. Though the adults, which include the housekeeper, Mrs. Tweedle (Pauline Collins), and groundskeeper, Boggis (Timothy Spall), have prepared themselves for the worst, young Tolly refuses to even entertain the idea that his father might be dead. He is adamant that his father is a prisoner of war and will be released as soon as the conflict is over.
Another common ground for grandmother and grandson, is love for the old family home, which his father has spoken of so often, and for its history. As Tolly begins to explore the sprawling old manor, he finds that the spirits of those whose lives were entwined with Green Knowe still haunt its halls. Its past is buried in its stones, mortared there with greed, pride, and violent passions, as well as love and selflessness. And somewhere within those stones lies the key to the mystery of the missing family assets — the silver, jewels, and a valuable painting.
This film explores complex family relationships, life, love, conflict, loss, and death, tied together by one tangible and enduring object — their home — Oldknowe manor.