From Time To Time: A Haunting Ghost Story


This was the official website for the 2009 movie, From Time to Time, a haunting ghost story spanning two worlds, two centuries apart.
Content is from the site's archived pages and other sources.


From Time to Time Trailer
In times of war two centuries apart, two distinct worlds are linked by a single family and the house in which they live. It is 1944 and thirteen year-old Tolly Oldknow is sent to spend Christmas with his grandmother, whilst his mother searches for news of his father in wartime London. In the old house, he becomes a witness to events during the Napoleonic wars and finds himself slowly drawn into participating in the drama. Invisible to most people in the past, yet able to move amongst them, he begins to unravel the mystery which has bewildered his family for two centuries. The solution to the puzzle leads him into his greatest adventure yet...

Directed and written by Julian Fellowes
(writer of Gosford Park, Young Victoria, Downton Abbey)

Cast includes:
Alex Etel (Cranford), Maggie Smith, Dominic West, Timothy Spall, Eliza Bennett,
Carice van Houten, Hugh Bonneville, Harriet Walter, Pauline Collins,
Christopher Villiers, Elisabeth Dermot Walsh

Awards and film festivals:

  • Chicago International Children's Film Festival 2009: Won: Adult's Jury Award - Certificate of Merit Live-Action Feature Film or Video (Julian Fellowes), Best of the Fest (Julian Fellowes), 2nd place Children's Jury Award Live-Action Feature Film or Video - English Language (Julian Fellowes)

Seattle International Film Festival 2010: Won: Futurewave Youth Special Jury Award (Julian Fellowes)

"With WWII coming to a close, and his father still missing in battle, Tolly is sent to the countryside to live with his grandmother in their imposing ancestral home at Christmas. Little does he know, the house is alive with ancient secrets that have haunted his family for centuries. With the help of the spirits of young Susan and her friend Jacob, Tolly begins to solve the mysteries hidden in the dark corners of the house. Tolly's adventures lead him along a supernatural journey of friendship and self-discovery, and teach him one of life's most important lessons."






From Time To Time film review
PUBLISHED: 00:00, Fri, Oct 1, 2010
IF you can’t wait for your next fix of Julian Fellowes’s Downton Abbey on the small screen you could catch his latest film, From Time To Time, on the big, another handsome period production with upstairs downstairs intrigue, family secrets galore and Dame Maggie Smith.

Based on The Chimneys of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston, it’s a ghostly family adventure about a 13-year-old boy, Tolly (Alex Etal) shipped off to stay with his grandmother (Smith) in 1944 who, apparition-like, witnesses events from 1809 when a black American slave boy joins the household and priceless jewellery disappears during a house fire with suspicion falling on a scheming butler (Dominc West).

Both directed and scripted by Fellowes, it may lack the whizz bang effects of a Harry Potter but boasts some excellent performances (Smith is wonderful) and casts a magical spell by the touching conclusion.
From Time To Time 3/5 (PG, 93mins)
Director: Julian Fellowes
Stars: Maggie Smith, Alex Etel, Hugh Bonneville, Dominic West, Carice Van Houten


In the final stages of World War II, thirteen-year-old Tolly (Alex Etel) is sent to spend Christmas with his grandmother Mrs Oldknow (Maggie Smith), far from wartime London. Within the ancient family manor estate, Green Knowe, Tolly is magically transported back in time to the Napoleonic period, drawn into participating in the family drama. Partly invisible in the past, he begins to unravel the mystery of the missing heirlooms which has bewildered his family for two centuries.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Yes, Tolly (Alex Etel) sees dead people but only some of them see him. After arriving at his family's grand old estate, Green Knowe, his granny Mrs Oldknow (Maggie Smith) tries her best to be supportive but not too optimistic about the fate of Tolly's father missing in action. Tolly remains forever optimistic, though.

As the kid explores the nooks and crannies of Green Knowe, he stumbles into the past; from one room in 1944 to the next in 1808, he magically invades the lives of his ancestors and their circle. These little adventures are presented sometimes as part of a ghost story, other times as time travel, when we see events from the past but not through Tolly's eyes. This confusion makes the film rather less effective than it might have been and reduces all the flitting about to gimmickry.

Well acted, gimmickry, however, with Maggie Smith her reliably sweet old self, a composite of wisdom and grace coupled with down to earth common sense. And heart, too. Young Alex Etel seems a tad brittle as Tolly, but Pauline Collins is lovely and effective as Mrs Tweedle the faithful and decent housekeeper, serving tea and wise counsel to the boy.

Timothy Spall is both underused and a little too mannered as the groundsman who occasionally points out clues in Tolly's adventure, and Dominic West is fine as the gruff and greedy Caxton, the chief of staff. Eliza Hall Bennett plays the blind teenage Susan, the daughter in the film's Napoleonic time setting, and Kwayedza Kureya does a terrific job as the young black slave saved and protected by Susan's caring father, Capt. Oldknow (Hugh Bonneville, excellent).

Lucy Bolton's novel from which it is adapted may well work better as it offers the reader a less concrete manifestation of the magical elements, which on screen look decidedly confused. But the biggest problem standing in the way of the film's success is that it is neither a full-on family film nor a grown up drama - and the ending is both sombre and flat.





Sandy L ****
March 15, 2010
Watched this recently at an afternoon show with my niece and nephew. We all really enjoyed the mysterious time travel elements. I thought the actors for the most part were very sweet, particularly the brilliant and versatile actress, Maggie Smith, and Hugh Bonneville, although he only had a brief part as the Captain. It was a bit spooky for my younger niece. Once we got home after the movie we spent some time looking online at the Napoleonic period so the kids would better understand the differences in the time periods between WWII in the 1940's and the the early 1800's. We were in my study looking at period clothes from the Napoleonic period when my two Persian cats came flying through the room knocking over my glass of wine, spilling the lids lemonade, as well as the sweets we had been nibbling onto my antique Oriental rug. What am appalling mess. My niece thought that perhaps the spirits of young Susan and her friend Jacob from the movie were chasing the cats. While my nephew, being the savvy computer wiz that he is, immediately did an online search for reliable rug cleaning Brooklyn. Up came Sunlight Fine Rug Cleaning. Since they specialized in not only cleaning, but also restoring antique rugs I decided to give them a call. They immediately sent a representative who gave me an estimate, rolled up the damp rug which we had cleaned up as best we could, and took it away. A week later my now cleaned rug was laid out in my study looking way better than it had looked in a long time. I guess it really did need a cleaning. When my niece and nephew visited next, they both made the observation that the rug would have fit in quite well in the home of Tolly's (Alex Etal) grandmother. I rather agree.


Simon M ***½
January 24, 2011
Sentimental, supernatural drama. A boy gets embroiled in the shinagans of the past in his ancestral home.



Nick A ***½
January 17, 2011
A cute fantasy drama where there's no logic in what happens (or when, or where), but it's not as important as the tale being told. I just had a feeling that the boy wasn't up to it, and that the ending was rushed, free of ideas.



James C ***½
January 15, 2011
Director Julian Fellowes brings a classic children's story to life with an effective balance of the real and the supernatural. There's a fear when dealing with matters of spirits and the supernatural on film that CGI can get in the way and ruin the narrative - thankfully that doesn't happen this time around. British war time countryside and the beautiful Athelhampton House in Dorset evoke the perfect sense of isolation and class distinction. Alex Etel is the lead character Tolly visiting his grandma in her manor house whilst awaiting news of his father missing in action during World War 2. Etel, the boy from 2006's The Water Horse, takes some getting used to as the protagonist as he doesn't always seem totally engaged with the character and the world he is inhabiting. Thankfully the elder Brit cast know exactly what they're doing - Maggie Smith reminding us just how brilliant and versatile an actress she can be in a role that harkens back to that in The Secret Garden, though admittedly a lot softer, and Hugh Bonneville shines for the brief screen time he receives as the Captain. All in all, Fellowes makes some magic on the screen.



Paul D **½
January 9, 2011
It's starts off as a pretty dull family movie, but once the flashbacks previous times at the country house begin the story does perk up.



David S ***
January 8, 2011
Mixing drama and time travel in this film written and directed by Julian Fellows. Alex Etel plays a young boy sent to live with his grandmother (Maggie Smith) and uncovers hidden secrets in the familys past when he travels back in time. This is a well acted film with the likes of Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Timothy Spall and Dominic West all good and has an intriguing plot line.


Becca A ***½
December 30, 2010
when Jacob saves Susan! :D



Cheryl L **** ½
December 28, 2010
I loved how the movie went back and forth from the 1940's to the Regency period. The cinematographer mentioned the contrast of colours from the dark greys of wartime to the bright, rich colours of the estate of Green Knowe during the Regency period and it was wonderful to watch the story unfold.
Maggie Smith and Alex Etel were wonderful as always! I knew I would love a film penned by Julian Fellowes.



David B ***½
November 7, 2010
in the spirirt of " the amazing mr blunden" and "secret garden "
comes a family film of ghosts and thrills .
was good to see pauline colins again also



Nick K ****
November 7, 2010
seen it not bad about a kid that passes though time maggie smith is good



annabelle s ****½
April 18, 2010
What a great kids movie. Thoughtful, full of suspense and a good story line. It wasn's spooky scary, even though it was full of ghosts but it did have some surprising moments where everyone in the theatre jumped.


Dan B ***
January 4, 2010
Charming inter-generational ghost story, with the wonderful Maggie Smith leading a fine British cast, all of whom give superb understated performances throughout. It is perhaps not the most cinematic film youâ??ll ever see, and I suspect it may find its natural home on television in a cosy living room between Christmas lunch and the Queenâ??s speech. However, if you do get a chance to see it at the pictures, I warmly recommend it, as it is a very different kind of family film to what is most typically on offer.

This UK premiere (I believe) was presented at the London Film Festival and part of their provision for audiences of all age. The screening was followed by a brief Q&A with writer / director Julian Fellowes, accompanied by Pauline Collins and Timothy Spall. All three were warm and gracious and never once condescended to the younger members of the audience.