Whistle Down the Wind (1961)

Whistle Down the Wind (1961), directed by Bryan Forbes.

Three children discover a man (Alan Bates) hiding in their barn. Through a bit of miscommunication they believe him to be Jesus. He's actually on the run, wanted for murder. But they decide to help him and keep him secret, except from a few dozen other kids who become additional disciples. Like any Passion Play, whether it has a happy ending depends on how you look at it.

A remarkable little film. Often funny (the theme for the three children is the "We Three Kings" carol), often poignant bordering on tragic. Many little biblical scenes and theological dilemmas are suggested. Most of the children believe in a childish way, just for the novelty and excitement of it all. But they come to believe more profoundly. The oldest girl (Hayley Mills, age 15 and growing up fast) struggles to do the right thing as she understands it.

It's very thoughtful without being heavy handed.

Available on region 2 PAL DVD. Hayley Mills commentary track.