If you have ever loved a toy so much that you wished it to be real, you are sure to connect to this beautiful old-world story.
Inspired by Margery William’s The Velveteen Rabbit (published in 1922), Director Michael Landon Jr, brings to the screen an adaptation of a tale that has been loved by generations. Set in the early 1900s, The Velveteen Rabbit tells a story of a little boy searching for love and the reuniting of his family, and of a toy rabbit with a dream to be loved so much he becomes a real rabbit.
Carefully combining animation with live action, this film contrasts the wonderful world of childhood imagination with the more sober issues of life, infusing both elements to create a world where miracles can happen.
After the passing of his mother, Toby (Matthew Harbour) finds himself alone in an adult world and he is sent to live with his grandmother (Una Kay) while his father (Kevin Jubinville) pours himself into his work, struggling to cope with his grief. It seems neither of them have a place for Toby in their lives, and he is expected to fit in to his grandmother’s schedule, to behave himself and not make a mess.
While trying to keep out of his grandmother’s way, Toby discovers an attic filled with toys and wonderful things. Toby is drawn to a gift box holding a plush rabbit made of velveteen and a letter from his mother (Jane Seymour) who later appears in the animated scenes. Toby and the rabbit become inseparable, as Toby—who has felt trapped in a love-lost world—finds he now has something to love.
After being teased by some local boys for not being able to throw a ball properly, Toby’s tears fall on the rabbit bringing it to life. The attic comes alive, and Toby, along with the Velveteen Rabbit, Horse (the voice of Tom Skerritt) and Swan (Ellen Burstyn), have many adventures together.
Toby discovers through his conversations with his new friends, that this ‘magic’ attic used to be a playground for both his father, and his grandmother when they were children. This comes as a surprise to Toby, but as Toby begins to tell his stodgy grandmother of his adventures, she remembers what it was like to be a child, and before long, her own imagination is reignited, creating a bond between the two as they share in new adventures of their own.
When Toby suddenly falls seriously ill with scarlet fever, Toby’s father returns and his heart begins to soften towards Toby at the thought of losing him. Under doctor’s orders, all toys and bedding that Toby has been in contact with during his sickness must be burnt, and that includes his most beloved toy—the Velveteen Rabbit. As his animated self, Rabbit has grown to love Toby so much that he is willing to sacrifice himself to save his owner.
When Toby realises what is happening, he is distraught, but as he weeps in his father’s embrace, something amazing happens. Toby notices a movement in the sack that contains his belongings on the fire, and watches as a real rabbit finds its way out of the bag. Has Rabbit become real? Toby learns that love can transform everything, including his own family.
With some gentle heart-tugging moments and animation, this film is one that the younger children in your home are bound to enjoy and you may even find yourself shedding a tear or two as well.
Take time out to introduce your family to this classic tale, and be inspired to enter a world where imagination can take you on adventures and reignite the child within you.
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