Today’s subject is close to my heart. I love families and I love great films. What I don’t like are huge marketing giants that tell our kids what to watch.
“This is my favorite movie because its main character is on the front of my Cheerios box, my flickering-light running shoes, and tattooed on My Little Pony’s butt,” drone the thousands of mind-numbed media-consuming children-bots.
Today I would love suggestions of hidden treasures, quality children’s or family films that teach, uplift and entertain and have not been marketed down our throats ad nauseam.
When I worked in the media department of a large public library with an amazing film collection, we’d often get questions like — “I’m getting a group together for a family gathering with people from ages 2-80 with various backgrounds and tastes. What movie could we all enjoy together?”
During my job interview, I was asked this question and I think I answered “Babe.” I got the job (Because who doesn’t like a good pig/sheepdog movie with singing mice?), but the truth is, if I knew the real answer to that question, I’d be making way too much money right now to be typing this myself. I’d have “people” to do that for me.
Here are some movies I’ve enjoyed that you may have heard of, but they’re definitely not in the same marketing universe as Finding Nemo or Chronicles of Narnia:
Bustor Keaton, some Chaplin, EARLY silent films like the Lumiere Brothers’ Actualities or Trip to the Moon by MÃ©liÃ¨s
-Animated short films from the National Film Board of Canada:
You do have to be careful and pick those that are appropriate for children, if that’s who’ll be watching them. Animated does not equal G-rated. Some favorites are The Man Who Planted Trees, The Sand Castle, The Cat Came Back, The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin, Getting Started.
-Animal documentaries that take you right into the world of the animals:
Winged Migration (Perrin 2001) and MicroCosmos (Nuridsany/PÃ©rennou 1996) come to mind.
-Family-friendly foreign films for when your kids are old enough to read (I even have one friend who watches foreign films with her 5-year-old and reads the subtitles to her, although most of these would be more appropriate for older children and teens.):
Not One less (Zhang 1999), Children of Heaven (Majidi 1999), Beauty and the beast (Cocteau 1946), Wings of Desire (Wenders 1987)
The Winslow Boy (Mamet 1999), Whale Rider (Caro 2002), Babe: Pig in the City (Miller 1998), You Can’t Take it with You (Capra 1938), The Secret of Roan Inish (Sayles 1994), Secondhand Lions (McCanlies 2003), Marx Brothers Films(1930’s)
What great films have you seen that have not received crazy media attention, or at least not recently? (I’d love to be reminded of great family films from years past.)