WHEN THE WHALES CAME tells a cautionary tale about human disharmonies--both with nature and with eccentrics who don't conform to social norms. Adapted by Michael Morpurgo from his own children's book and set in the Scilly Isles early in WW I, the story concerns a mysterious curse incurred
by an island populace who once abused a group of narwhal whales; the friendship between two children and an deaf, kindly old outcast known as "The Birdman" (Paul Scofield); and the Birdman's humane mission to prevent the curse from being perpetuated. Unfortunately, the filmmakers seem more
interested in airing environmental concerns than in creating compelling drama: Scofield must...