CFF: Outer Space. Film Review

Director: S C Ferguson/Ian Shand/Harley Cokeliss
Certificate: U
Format: DVD
Reviewed by Guy Adams

And, with a flutter of pigeon’s wings we’re back in the world of the Children’s Film Foundation courtesy of the BFI. This latest collection ties in with their current SCI-FI: Days of Fear and Wonder season, offering three science fiction tales from the CFF vaults.

First we have SUPERSONIC SAUCER, a tale so charming and whimsical it should be wearing a cardigan. Meba, an infant flying saucer — realised by a combination of animation and puppetry — is so excited by finally managing to take flight that he ends up traveling from his native Venus to Earth. Here he finds a public school, a cake shop and a million pounds. Lucky Meba. Naturally he befriends a group of local kids and helps thwart some crooks — because this would hardly be the CFF otherwise. It’s utterly delightful, sweet and fun. A cinematic hug.

Next is KADOYNG. Taking the “befriending of local school children and thwarting menace” as read, the threat this time is a planned motorway. Bill Owen is terribly excited at the prospect of ploughing a tarmac eyesore through the aptly named village of Byway. Only the visiting Kadoyng (Leo Maguire, who also wrote the script) can stop him. Offbeat, gently didactic and curiously eerie in that way that only a perpetually smiling clown can be.

Finally, THE GLITTERBALL, one of the most fondly-remembered CFF movies. It features an alien landing on Earth and helping two children thwart a… Well, never mind. THE GLITTERBALL of the title is a remarkably animated silver golf ball with a taste for custard. It combines the drab with the fantastic in the way that only late seventies British cinema could, one minute we’re lost in a world of dreary supermarkets and Formica, the next we’re watching the sky fill with spherical aliens. It’s effective, well-paced fun and a great climax to the set.

As with previous releases, I honestly can’t recommend the CFF series enough, they’re wonderful little windows into British children’s cinema with more than enough skill and wit to please the jaded adults we’ve all become. As always, the release comes with a booklet of essays, including a piece from Harvey Cokeliss, director of THE GLITTERBALL.