THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD
Brief History of Thomas
In the 1980s, a small blue train with an irrepressible smile and a sweet yet determined attitude became a beloved friend to millions of families across the world who watched him on television and home videos over and over, enchanted by his simple charms. This was Thomas the Tank Engine, a diminutive talking train, who first emerged in Britain out of an obscure series of 1940s children's books written by the Reverend Wilber
Awdry. At the time, Awdry spun the warm-hearted tales of Thomas the Tank Engine to entertain his sick son.
But half a century later, young British storyteller and filmmaker Britt Allcroft intuited that the character had a far greater potential. In 1983, she took a risk, mortgaging her home and pouring all her resources, creative and financial, into forging a series of shows called "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends" for British television. Narrated by none other than pop culture icon Ringo Starr and introducing what was to become a trademark style distinguished by whimsical visuals, fresh animation, gentle humor and a sense of constant discovery, the risk paid off. The show immediately captured young imaginations and became a favorite of parents, who were drawn in by the optical delights of the animation and the captivating, uplifting storylines. Most of all "Thomas the Tank Engine" did something special that appealed to all ages — the show melded the wonders of a child's fantastical dream world with the challenges and concerns of everyday reality, all in an utterly accessible and entertaining style.
In the ensuing years since his first television appearance. Thomas has laid tracks around the world, with television broadcasts in 123 countries and some 15 million videos sold across the globe. Thomas himself has become an enduring children's icon, beloved by the pint-sized and lauded by adults — just as Britt Allcroft believed in the beginning he could.
"I think the real appeal of Thomas the Tank Engine has always been that he leaves space for people of all ages to use their imaginations," says Britt
Allcroft. "For me, Thomas has always been about bringing wonderful stories to life — and now there are millions and millions of folks around the world of all ages for whom the stories of Thomas mean so much in their lives."
She continues: "Bringing Thomas to the big screen means a grand new story for those who love him and a chance to really get to know him for those who don't. It's a continuation of Thomas' endless journey and adventure, with a whole new world of wonderful characters for him to meet."
Underlying Allcroft's script for Thomas and the Magic Railroad is her deep passion for enchanting myths and empowering messages. "At heart I am always a storyteller and great stories always inspire me," she summarizes.
Thomas and he Magic Railroad is not only the biggest adventure to date for Thomas the Tank Engine, but for Britt Allcroft as well. From the beginning, Allcroft knew she was the only person intimate enough with Thomas and his world to bring them to heartfelt life on the screen. She faced the challenging prospect of making her feature film directorial debut with a massive on-location production involving a large, international cast and cutting edge visual effects which allow the human characters to interact for the very first time with the talking trains on the Island of Sodor.
It was a challenge enlivened by Allcroft's excitement at seeing this new, epic incarnation of Thomas. "He is my baby in a sense and it's wonderful to give him a big, new life in the cinema, which is like no other kind of storytelling experience," she comments. "There's also a lot of joy as a writer to be able to direct a wonderful company of actors and technical crew to bring the characters that I've created to life all over again."
Allcroft had such a strong image of
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