Each year I search for some of the lovely old shows I used to watch as a child at Christmas time. Christmas and the summer holidays were always a magical time in my childhood memory … heat and humidity, summer storms, playing in the sprinkler, drinking ice cream spiders, swimming, riding bikes, great food, friends … and lolling about on the couch with a lemonade and popcorn watching movies …
I’ve found some of the movies I really enjoyed as a child, and a few more. Do you know why I value these now? It isn’t just because I enjoyed them as a child, but now as a parent I have different values. I like these movies because they are simple and yet still exciting and magical. They are not over-exciting, do not have over-the-top sound or visual effects, or sarcastic double-sided humour (which appeals to children on one level and gives another message to adults that children suspect must be funny – but aren’t really sure why).
Many of these movies use real children’s voices and frame by frame they move slower than the movies that are popular today. You can breathe easily during these movies – it IS possible to enjoy a movie without having an adrenalin rush 🙂
These movies are not trying to be a smash hit, to prove anything or hit any kind of moral chord. They are are a collection of great stories for children that make you feel good. The themes in these movies are also full of wonder and delight in the precious time of childhood where anything is possible and imagination was celebrated.
The bonus is that they are all available on YouTube so they are free. I hope you enjoy them too.
Movies for the Little Ones
Frosty the Snowman – I’m sure you’ve all seen this one! Simple and happy and has catchy music. The 70s really did produce some delightfully daggy stuff. This is one of my favourites.
The Snowman – Oh delight! Raymond Brigg’s book is created anew in more or less a silent film about a boy and the snowman he creates with the first winter snow. The magic that occurs between them still gives me tingles even years after. My favourite part of this movie is the music. I just love it. Father Christmas makes a joyful appearance as a kind and generous man who loves children. And David Bowie is a bonus.
A Year Without Santa Claus – An animation with puppets. This is a show for children, appealing to what interests children. Santa needs a break! The bad guys look like the old troll dolls with their fluffy vertical hair – and they are elementals rather than human. They are humorously cranky bad guys – and I love Mrs Claus’s involvement. Firm and loving all at once just like you imagine Mrs Claus to be – and she solves the problem by going right to the top – to Mother Nature! Mrs Claus and Mother Nature chat about the problem over a cup of tea and she exerts her parental influence over those cheeky and childish elemental children of hers. There is music interspersed with the story line and it is a very enjoyable 50 mins.
Santa’s Surprise – Children from all over the world decide to visit Santa at his workshop and give him some support. It’s old … so there are some cultural stereotypes in here that we wouldn’t see any more … but at least it appears to be equally appalling over ALL races … if you can let this go by acknowledging that we know better now, than when it was made in 1947, then it is a cute little cartoon (8 minutes).
Movies for the Middle Ones (early primary and older)
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – a very simple animation in a very 70s way. Real children’s voices. The death of Aslan is a little emotionally tense but represented tactfully by a thunderbolt at the point of death – no gruesome images of war and injury, but focuses on the journey of the children.
The Yearling – this is cartoon version. Set in the time after the American Civil War, this is the story about a little boy who befriends a young deer. The deer of course grows older faster than the boy does and he has to make a few decisions.A little bit more instantly satisfying than the film version for little people. I think this might have been one of my first experiences of the Japanese animation style,and it was the joyful simplicity of this cartoon that stayed with me for many years. This one is the start of a series of cartoons. You’ll be able to find the rest on YouTube.
Movies for the older children (10+)
It’s a Wonderful Life – Black and White! An old classic starring James Stewart, and a beautiful story about a business man considering ending his life is shown by an angel-in-training what life would be like if he had never existed. I love a movie that affirms our purpose in this life. We affect so many people in so many different ways and it is a opportunity to count the ways that we do bless those around us.
The Yearling – This is the 1946 film. It’s a great film about American frontier life. It’s a pretty slow going, and he doesn’t find the deer until the second half when his dad (Gregory Peck) gets sick. It is a bit sad in parts (and has a bit of fist fighting) but still a beautiful story. This is part one, but part two is easy to find on YouTube.