After reviewing my movie collection, I picked films that I loved as a child, films that my children also loved, and are now watched by my grandchildren. There are films for young children under the age of five, as well as some that are for older children. I hope these films will become classics in your family too.
Snow White is one of the many Disney films that we all know and love. This version is based on Snow White, a German fairy tale read to children from the fairytale book by the Brothers Grimm. Snow White is a princess who lives with her wicked and vain stepmother The Queen. Threatened by Snow White’s beauty, the Queen keeps her hidden, working as a scullery maid. The queen has a magic mirror which she asks who is more beautiful, Snow White or herself? I chose this film, because of the seven dwarves. They were entertaining and quite funny. The fairy tale was the typical Cinderella story, but the dwarves, whose various personalities were a perfect balance to the queen’s evil personality, giving me hope that Snow White would be ok.
Heidi (Shirley Temple) is about a young orphan girl, who is taken from her grandfather without his permission, by a cruel aunt, to live as a companion to Klara, a crippled girl. The grandfather looks for his granddaughter for quite awhile before finally finding her. As a child, Shirley Temple, fascinated me, even as a young girl I recognized her talent. My four year old granddaughter loves to watch Shirley’s movies.
Lady and the Tramp is another Disney film that is another favorite. In this film, the human love story of a society girl falling in love with a person who lives on the wrong side of the tracks is played out through two dogs. One is a cocker spaniel name Lady, who falls in love with a mutt named Tramp. The love struck dogs create complications for the couple who own Lady.
I chose this film because it delivers a message, as all Disney films do, through animals, allowing very young children access to a moral message, without hitting them over the head with it.
Sound of Music is a musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, about a young nun who becomes governess for Captain von Trapp’s seven children. WWII and the Nazi spread across Europe, forced the von Trapp family to flee their beloved Austria, across the Swiss mountains to safety.
This film always made me happy when I watched it and I loved to sing the songs. It was also the first film that I discovered that was based, somewhat, on historical events. Recently, I was in Prague studying and took a side trip to Austria. The church used in the movie is as beautiful as it is in the movie.
Gulliver’s Travel is a novel by Irish writer Jonathan Swift. Gulliver is the captain of a ship that becomes shipwrecked. He washes up on the shores of an island where people are a twelfth the size of normal human beings. Of course, they view him as a giant. While he is still unconscious from being washed ashore, the villagers tie him up for fear that when he wakes he will hurt them. However, they find when he wakes their ropes could not hold him. Gulliver is confused, does not know where he is, and who these people are. Should the villagers be scared?
I was fascinated by this film and the idea of tiny little people. I remember wondering what it would be like to scurry away from a big foot hovering above me. It was fun to watch and kids of all ages still love it.
Miracle on 34th Street is a tale of the age old question that every parent and child faces. Is there really a Santa Claus? The child in this film, is a very young, Natalie Wood. Her single mother is much too realistic to believe in such nonsense. She dislikes Christmas, but unfortunately, is in charge of hiring the Santas for her department store. A man claiming to be Santa, shows up when the one hired, came into work drunk. Is this the real Santa? After several miracles that happen to the young girl and her mother, they begin to wonder.
Every child faces this question. I remember being reassured that Santa was indeed real. I think this feel-good movie is a must-have for every household.
Oliver Twist is another Charles Dickens classic book turned into a movie. Oliver Twist is a young orphaned boy, who escapes from a workhouse and is living on the streets. He meets up with a gang of young pickpockets who “work” for an old criminal, Fagin, who trains young boys to steal. Young naïve Oliver is unaware of their activities and Fagin sees a new opportunity to bring in more cash.
This film keeps you on the edge of your seat. What will happen to Oliver once he escapes from the workhouse, will he survive in the streets? Once he falls under the control of the evil Fagin, will he be able to escape and find a safe place to live?
Lassie Come Home is about the intense bond between a young boy and his collie Lassie. The family falls on hard times and they are forced to sell the collie to a neighbor who has always admired her. The boy morns the loss of his dog and Lassie will have nothing to do with his new owners.
I chose this film, because my parents gave my dog Musty to my grandmother who lived in the country. I was too young to understand he would have a better life in the country. In Lassie Comes Home, the collie, does find his way back to the young boy. I always hoped my dog would find his way back home, too.
E.T. this is another film that is made for kids of all ages. A group of alien botanists comes to earth to collect samples. When they are confronted by the Army, they retreat to their space ship, leaving someone behind who goes undetected by the Army. Children who live nearby, stumble upon the young alien, take him home, and hide him. Of course, the Army comes looking for him.
I enjoyed this as much as my children did. The young girl in the film is a young Drew Barrymore. We all wanted E.T. to stay, but he is homesick, and wants to go home.
Cinderella is a classic and we are all familiar with the young girl, Cinderella, whose father remarries after his wife dies. The stepmother is jealous of her stepdaughter, who is much more beautiful than her own daughters. When Cinderella’s father dies, her stepmother makes her a servant to her daughters. Cinderella’s stepsisters are invited to a ball and she had to stay home. With the help of a fairy godmother, Cinderella attends the ball where she meets and falls in love with young prince, who will help her escape the drudgery of life, with her stepmother and her daughters.
The Wizard of OZ was the first film that created realistic looking witches and truly evil people. When Dorothy is caught up in a tornado and lands in the land of OZ, she finds many strange things. Many children were really frightened by the flying monkeys and realistic witches. Then there is Dorothy, the good witch, and the trio that Dorothy travels with on her quest to find her way home. These characters reassure young children that all will be ok and Dorothy will find her way home.