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Watching one of your childhood favourites play out on the screen can take you back to the moment you first saw it, letting you remember what it felt like to be a kid. This can help give you a closer connection with your child and a new insight into their personality and behaviour. Here are a few of our favourite classics, all of which contain teaching moments that you can talk about after the credits roll. Enjoy!
1. Born Free (1966)
The real life story of George and Joy Adamson, a couple living in Africa who took in an orphaned lion cub named Elsa. But while lion cubs may be cute and cuddly, they soon grow into something far more ferocious, so the Adamsons have their work cut out for them. In 1960 Joy Adamson wrote a book about her experiences with Elsa, and in 1966 the novel Born Free was turned into a blockbuster film. It’s an inspiring story that continues to amaze.
Lessons learned: Nature, animals, cause and effect, consequence of your actions, responsibility, home.
2. Beethoven (1992)
Another case of something starting out small and cute but growing up into something different, Beethoven is the story of a puppy that is adopted by the Newton family. However, the cuddly little Beethoven soon grows up into a huge St Bernard, causing some huge problems along the way. Most of the family doesn’t seem to mind, but for their father, George, this dog is a nuisance who is ruining his life. Can George learn to love this slobbery, shaggy beast?
Lessons learned: Animal welfare, responsibility, downsides of owning a pet, making sacrifices for others.
3. The Adventures of Milo and Otis (1986)
This Japanese film follows Milo the curious kitten, who blunders in and out of one adventure after another during his cross-country journey. His lovable pug pal Otis is always one step behind him, looking out for his fuzzy little buddy. This film is unique in that it has some narration, but no speaking parts; these animals do not talk! Still, they tell a story that is full of excitement and heartwarming fun.
Lessons learned: courage, being friends with people who are different, sticking together, curiosity – both its good and bad sides.
4. Fantasia (1940)
Walt Disney had already tasted cinematic success with Snow White and Pinocchio, but by 1940 the animation visionary decided to do something entirely different. Fantasia is a series of completely free-form explorations of music, light and colour, with very little narrative tying the scenes together – perfect for young ones with limited attention spans. The soundtrack features songs from Beethoven, Schubert, Bach and several other classical music heavyweights, giving the film a richness that still holds up today. (Warning: some of the scenes, notably the finale Night on Bald Mountain, might be scary for younger viewers, but you can easily skip these and enjoy the others.)
Lessons learned: following instructions, don’t cut corners, enjoying life.
5. The Bear (1988)
This is no Winnie the Pooh story. Based on the 1916 novel The Grizzly King by naturalist James Oliver Kurwood, The Bear shows life in the wild as it follows a young cub exploring the world around him and interacting with other creatures. He gets life advice from an older male who teaches him how to fish, what to eat, and generally how to be a bear. But not all is well in the forest: there are hunters looking for furs. Can the big bear keep his little friend safe from the dangers around him?
Lessons learned: Nature, survival, adoption, forgiveness.