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Begging for coins while three women (presumably witches) are publicly burned at the stake, twelve-year-old Thomas Canty (Robert Timmins) sees his father stab a man and then frame another for the murder. Being the only witness to the crime, the young pauper knows his own life is in jeopardy.
While attempting to flee from his violent parent, a chain of serendipitous events delivers the frightened fugitive within the castle walls and into the protection of none other than Prince Edward (Jonathan Timmins). Seeing a similarity in their appearance, the royal youth decides to take advantage of the situation to get his heart's desire: an enjoyable afternoon frolicking with other children.
Under the assumption all will be child's play, the boys naively step into each other's world by switching clothes and identities. But this small act will change their lives forever, and force them to grow up.
Denied re-admittance to the palace, Prince Edward gets a slice of real life when an accidental encounter with Thomas's father turns into a tavern fight involving daggers and swords. The lad is rescued and taken under wing by Miles Hendon (Aidan Quinn), a kindly stranger. During the pair's flight from the dangers of London, the heir to the throne is privy to his benefactor's looming identity crisis, as well as seeing the harshness of his father's kingdom first hand.
Meanwhile, back at the castle... Thomas may have traded his mud for food and finery, yet he's ill prepared for regal life or the trials of deception and betrayal that soon come his way.
In Hallmark's adaptation of Mark Twain's classic tale, The Prince And The Pauper, poverty, greed, abuse, neglect, and public execution are depicted to establish the bleak circumstances of England in the 1500's. They also spark the characters' determination for justice, and search for truth (even if it is sometimes laced with disappointment). Although these elements are not gratuitously portrayed, they may make the film unsuitable for youngsters. However, the themes of love, loyalty, and forgiveness may provide older children and teens with a chance to do a little growing of their own.
The Prince And The Pauper is rated Not Rated:
Cast: Robert Timmins, Jonathan Timmins, Aidan Quinn.
Studio: 2001 Hallmark Productions Inc