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  Mine and the Minotaur, The Buried Treasure
Year: 1980
Director: David Gowing
Stars: Adam Rhodes, William Booker, Felicity Harrison, Charlie Cork, Janette Legge, Christopher Hare, Elaine Lordan, James Hazeldine, Mary Larkin, Jay Benedict, Jay Freedman, Virginia Balfour, Michael Watkins, Steven Crossley
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Gary (Christopher Hare) and Sandra (Elaine Lordan) are brother and sister on holiday with their parents in Cornwall, driving to a campsite on the coast there in dad's London taxicab. On the way, they are nearly run off the road by a man driving a red sports car far too fast along the country lanes, much to their annoyance, and further along the road the reckless driver knocks a young boy off his bicycle. It's nothing serious, but his mother gives the man a piece of her mind when he returns asking for directions, so to make up for the incident he offers to give him and his brother a ride in the fancy car, which they accept. What the driver, Gerry (Jay Benedict), is up to is more conniving...

But not as conniving as you might have thought of a stranger taking a pair of young boys for a ride in his car, no matter how slick it was. Then again, children's entertainment had changed quite a bit from 1980, when this was released, to the twenty-first century, where the producers of The Mine and the Minotaur did not even exist anymore, they being the Children's Film Foundation, not producing films anymore at any rate. But watching this it was instructive to witness how the younger characters deliberately placing themselves in peril was convenient for keeping the plot going, and make no mistake, the youngsters here did end up in some ill-advised circumstances.

Mostly in the opening half, where Gary and Sandra team up with those brothers, Jake (Adam Rhodes) and Dan (William Booker), to investigate an abandoned mine - but is it as abandoned as they believe. At least there was a warning of what could happen to you if you did venture into dangerous locations, for Gary manages to take a tumble and break his elbow and sprain his wrist simultaneously, as if to offer a public service as to a worst case scenario. Nevertheless, the fact remained that if he had not done so, he would never have clapped eyes on the Minotaur statuette, made of gold, that was kept hidden in a cave and which becomes an obsession for the quartet of kids when it turns out to be stolen.

We can tell from the off who the criminals are, it's Gerry and the potters he is friends with (James Hazeldine and Mary Larkin) who have contrived to steal the statuette from The British Museum in the hopes they can smuggle it out of the country for a princely sum. Even compared to their output of a short while before, The Mine and the Minotaur was more complex as far as the storyline went, acknowledging their audience were beginning to mature earlier and be more used to sophisticated (relatively) dramatic constructs, but ironically, this was also a signal that the C.F.F. was not going to be needed for much longer, as their format was slipping into obsolescence. Christopher Penfold was the man on screenwriting duties, a veteran of the likes of Space: 1999 for instance, and you could tell he was aiming higher than the basic projects from this company. It was an interesting example of what might have been had the Foundation continued. Music by James Harpham.

[This is one of nine films released by The BFI on DVD in the Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Volume 2.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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