Uncle Arthur has gone to Hollywood. And, Southern Adventist University took him there. At least, that’s what we discovered on a recent trip to Hollywood Video. While searching for a good Saturday night movie, I stumbled across Secret of the Cave – not knowing that it was based on the book by “Uncle” Arthur S. Maxwell.
Frankly, I had forgotten about that old story. I picked Secret to avoid the frequent family debates over which movie to pick. In our house, voting on movies works just like Congress voting on spending bills. Everyone wants their own way – and no appeal to the common good is effective. So, using whatever authority I had left, I settled the debate by choosing the movie myself. It turned out that a story about mysterious events in a far off village was appealing. With minimal resistance from the kids, we picked up Secret of the Cave and headed home.
There are movie experts in our house. Brennan, age 13, whose favorites are action adventure movies like Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars; and, Braden, age 11, who loves Lord of the Rings, Superman, Spider Man and other action oriented movies. Rounding out the movie crew is Morgan, age 9, whose favorites are High School Musical, Parent Trap and similar stories. They all love good stories, and are not afraid to critique. So I enlisted them as my reviewers.
The movie tells the story of Roy Wallace (Kevin Novotony), an 11 year old boy from Seattle, who is reluctantly dragged along by his father (Patrick Bergin) on a business trip to Ireland. Roy is left to visit his aunt and uncle in a small Irish village. While nursing his hurt feelings, Roy suddenly finds himself in the midst of a series of mysterious events, all somehow linked to a secret cave. His companions, Abbey and Oscar, along with the other villagers, try to determine just what is happening in their village. Are there ghosts in the village? Who is doing all those anonymous good deeds? Are the mysteries linked to the recent death of old Alistair McGlocklin? Eventually Roy figures out the secret, but only after a midnight chase, a runaway funeral cart, a quick kiss from an Irish beauty (Braden closed his eyes), and a trip deep into the cave.
View a clip from Secret of the Cave.
My reviewers enjoyed the movie, found the story suspenseful and were caught up in the mystery of the cave. Morgan identified with Abbey (“a redhead like me”) while Braden’s favorite character was Oscar. They also liked the special features – especially the bloopers. The location shots captured the beauty of the Irish coast. The acting, soundtrack and visual production were up to Hollywood standards.
In true Hollywood style, the movie takes creative liberties with the original book. For instance, the story is moved from Scotland to Ireland, and Abbey (Niamh Finn) is added as a strong female counterpart to Roy. However, the story survived the transition to the big screen. At 88 minutes, the movie is short enough to hold younger viewers, but still captures the essence of Uncle Arthur’s story.
The movie was produced by students and faculty of the film school at Southern Adventist University and Hollywood filmmakers, and the cast and crew includes veteran British, Irish and American actors. (Read the Spectrum interview with producer David George here.) Secret of the Cave was screened at the 2006 Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis, along with bigger productions (including The Queen, Amazing Grace, and others). Despite the stiff competition, the film won a Crystal Heart Award.
The Stanyer family writes from Spokane, WA where Brennan is an eighth grader who likes books, music, football, and video games; Braden is a sixth grader who fills his spare time with reading, sports, and music; and Morgan is an active fourth grader and loves cooking, skateboards, bikes, movies and eating. Papa Brent is an estate planning attorney and spends his spare time driving kids to the movie store.
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