They may be a little young to absorb the complexities of narrative and cinematographic techniques, but your children can definitely learn about the impact of good films simply by watching them. A great film can change the way a child sees the world. Most importantly, sharing a nice film with your kids helps you build a more intimate relationship with each other and creates a lot of fun.
Here is a selection of classical films which have stood the test of time and are highly recommended for parents and children.
Modern Times (1936)
Very few comedies today can remain amusing for such a long time like those of Charlie Chaplin, and no other comedians are as socially and politically influential as Chaplin. Set in the background of the Great Depression, the film features Chaplin’s iconic Little Tramp character who struggles to survive in the industrialized modern society.
There are too many memorable scenes in the film, such as Chaplin trying to keep up with an assembly line and falling victim to the broken feeding machine. In Modern Times Chaplin proved again that he was the most brilliant actors of the silent screen and the most eloquent master of mime. Enjoy this all-time classic with your kids, introducing them to the master of silent cinema and preparing to laugh.
Wizard of Oz (1939)
This fantasy masterpiece of MGM starring Judy Garland takes viewers on a magical journey into the Land of Oz. Based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, the film is a tale of the adventurous journey of Dorothy and her friends, during which they all find what they have been looking for: the Scarecrow demonstrates his intelligence, the Tin Man acquires a heart, the Lion picks up his courage, and Dorothy’s ruby slipper finally takes her home. This is an evergreen classic which summons nostalgia in audiences of all ages and proves what Dorothy says in the end of the film – there is no place like home.
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
A Christmas is incomplete without Frank Capra’s tale of a man who discovers that life really is worth living. The film begins with a man (James Stewart) whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve is intervened by his guardian angel, who shows him all the lives he has touched and how different the world would be without him. Sweet and a little sappy, the film is nevertheless an inspirational and heart-warming story to watch with the whole family.
Singin’ In the Rain (1952)
The scene of Gene Kelly hopping on a street lamp with an umbrella may be one of the most memorable moments on the screen. As one of the most famous and loved musicals of all time from MGM, the film is a lighthearted depiction of Hollywood during the transition from silent films to talkies.
It is a witty and joyous film surrounded by a wonderful cynicism with everybody either mocking themselves or pretending to be someone they are not. Moreover, it contains some wonderful musicals like O’Connor’s brilliantly acrobatic “Make ‘em Laugh”, Kelly’s “”Broadway Ballet” and of course the title song. Having your kids enjoy this big-screen musical with their parents may be one of the best and most affordable school holiday activities. Next time, you may even be able to re-enact your favorite movie scene with your kids in a rainy day.
Sound of Music (1965)
Based on the Broadway musical with the same name, the film tells the story of Maria, a novice in a strict Salzburg Abbey who is sent to Captain von Trapp’s villa to act as a governess for his seven children. When the film was released in 1965, it took the world by storm and earned 5 Oscars. It is a rare combination of a moving story, glorious songs and breathtaking scenery of the mountains in Austria. It contains a number of songs, including “Edelweiss”, “My Favorite Things” and “Do-Re-Mi” which remain timeless through generations.
Parents may find this film rich in character, music and story, as well as filled with positive messages. This is also an appropriate moment to talk about history: everyone in Austria has to make a choice when the Nazis arrive. Parents may explain to their older kids why this was such a tense time and why the Von Trapps made the painful decision to flee the country they love.
Yuan Liu is freelancer who loves everything old. She likes vintage movies and yearns for the good old days when she could simply enjoy school holiday activities with friends.