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Film / Child of Glass

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"Sleeping lies the murdered lass,
Vainly cries the child of glass.
When the two shall be as one,
The spirit's journey will be done."

Child of Glass is a 1978 live-action Disney film produced for The Wonderful World of Disney. Loosely based on the children's novel The Ghost Belonged to Me by Richard Peck, it is the story of newly arrived City Slicker Alexander Armsworth and his Cloud Cuckoolander neighbor Blossom Culp as they attempt to solve a centuries-old mystery.

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Alexander and his family move into a dilapidated plantation in the wilds of northern Louisiana. His mother and older sister seem thrilled by the romance of their new home and intend on restoring it to its former glory, while Alexander is less than impressed, particularly when their neighbor, oddball Blossom Culp, decides she's Alexander's new best friend. Blossom, who lives with her equally strange aunt Lavinia in a nearby shack, claims to know all about the spirit world, which comes in useful when Alexander discovers the ghost of a sad, lonely young Southern Belle (and her dog) haunting the family barn.

The ghost, a French girl named Inez Dumaine, was murdered by her wicked pirate uncle Jacques Dumaine when she was unable to tell him the location of her family's hidden fortune. Now she begs Alexander to help her complete her Unfinished Business and find "the child of glass." Alexander must solve the mystery before Halloween or Inez will be trapped on the plantation forever, unable to reunite with her parents in the afterlife, and forced to live out her own murder over and over again.

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Child of Glass contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Villainy: In the original book, Inez's death was an accident and the captain, who originally tried to give her a proper burial, was so entranced by the money she had sewn into her dress, that he stole it and buried her in a pauper's grave, which unintentionally caused her to be Barred from the Afterlife. The film version makes the captain an evil pirate-warlock, as well as Inez's uncle, who outright killed her for her family's money, caused her dog's death, cursed her from reuniting with her parents in the afterlife, and is even implied to have killed her real parents.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: Her uncle's curse prevents Inez from joining her parents on the Other Side. In the original book, Inez just needed a proper burial to be put to rest.
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  • Big Fancy House: The plantation, while shabby and neglected, is still quite beautiful. Contrasted with the decaying, unrestored barn where Inez dwells.
  • Breakout Character: Blossom. Alexander is only the main character in the book upon which this film is based (The Ghost Belonged to Me). In the three future books in the series, Blossom is the POV character and Alexander is reduced to her sidekick. The full series is even referred to as "The Blossom Culp Series."
  • Cool Old Lady: Aunt Lavinia and, even more so, Missus Mayweather (who is painted as a fearsome old harridan but turns out to be a gracious dowager who enjoys a mint julep).
  • Creepy Doll: Inez's long-lost doll Babette. It's quite an ordinary-looking baby doll, but it takes on a more spooky edge in the few scenes where it's seen floating by itself, bathed in spectral blue light. It's also the titular "child of glass."
  • Crusty Caretaker: Amory Timmons. Mrs. Armsworth fires him for his laziness and bad attitude several times but he refuses to leave. Verges on Psychopathic Man Child the further things go.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Played with. Blossom's psychic powers are real, but she also believes in a lot of folk magic and superstitions that just turn out to be nonsense.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: Inez.
  • Figure It Out Yourself: Other than some vague handwaving at her curse, there's no indication why Inez can't explain the riddle herself.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Alexander's mom and sister construct beautiful period gowns in order to be the belles of the ball at their "old-fashioned" cotillion, only to be outshone by the living Inez, who appears in the authentic period party dress she wore when she was alive.
  • He Knows Too Much: Alexander witnesses Amory setting the barn on fire (and nearly dies in the blaze), causing Amory to seek the child out to silence him.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Dumaine family diamonds, for which Inez is murdered turn out to have been hidden inside the head of the china doll she refuses to part with.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: "Frère Jacques"
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Inez mentions that while both she and her dog were murdered, only she was cursed, but the dog's spirit chose to remain with her out of loyalty.
  • Monochrome Apparition: All ghosts in this world glow blue-white.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Subverted. Evil Uncle Jacques murdered both the dog and its mistress.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Babette.
  • Ragin' Cajun: Jacques Dumaine, a vicious Cajun pirate. Blossom Culp is also a Cajun girl who, while not exactly "raging," can be pretty peppery.
  • Setting Update: The film is set in late 1970s, the time of the film's release (which also makes it convenient for Inez to have been haunting the place for exactly 100 years). Few would suspect that the original book was set in the 1910s.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Alexander's older sister is bossy, demanding, and enjoys being the center of attention. Alexander is the put-upon younger brother who does her bidding and is usually ignored.
  • Tagalong Kid: Blossom is one for Alexander before they become friends. She's also one after they become friends.
  • Thrown Down a Well: What happened to Inez. Alexander is later forced to jump down the same well when the barn catches fire.
  • You Look Like You've Seen a Ghost: Alexander's mom says this almost verbatim to her son.
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