The story is about two young girls. Elsie is sent to England to live with her cousin Frances after her father was declared missing in WW1. On the train to her cousin’s house Elsie picks up a pamphlet for a seminar on angels, which her aunt finds and attends after she arrives at the house. The subject of fairies and angels and the like has been banned from the house because Frances’ brother (who also saw faeries) died earlier in the year due to illness and her mother is still grieving. The girls play in the forest looking for faeries, and eventually they see a couple. They come up with the idea of taking a picture of themselves with the faeries so that Frances’ mother will believe they exist and will get over her son’s death. The mother takes the photos to the man who ran the angel lecture and he then takes the photos to get them examined to ensure their authenticity. After this he takes the photos to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who believed in the photographs so deeply that he wrote a book on them (and for those who frequent this blog you’ll have noticed that I posted this work already here), and to Harry Houdini, who was skeptical of the photos throughout the movie. Eventually everyone comes to interview the girls and either disprove the existence of fairies, or to see them for themselves. There are actual CG fairies in the film that the audience will see flying by and only show themselves only to the girls, but at no point in the film are the photos proven or disproven, which is appropriate because it was only known to be a hoax after the death of Francis and Elsie.
I thought the film did a good job of capturing the story of the Cottingly photographs. The basic facts were present, but there was enough fantasy and imagination to make a story out of the facts and make it an enjoyable film. And because the story is told from a child’s perspective, it is allowed to be a little bit more whimsical. There is an ‘adult’ version of this film called Photographing Fairies (also previously discussed) which is also worth checking out if you are into the subject matter.
Here is a trailer for the film