Friday, 20 August 2010

A Childhood of Screen

Nostalgia, it's a beautiful thing. Growing up, there was such excitement about going to the cinema, from seeing Bambi with my mum when I was barely old enough to climb up onto the cinema seat (no 'you still can't!' height jokes, please), to going to the cinema without a parent for the first time. And the wonder of the VHS, there was nothing better to do on a rainy day off school than slip in one of my favourite videos. These are some of my favourite cinematic memories of days gone by - what are yours?

Matilda (DeVito, 1996)

As a wee nipper, I was a massive fan of Roald Dahl's books - and the first of my favourite childhood films is an adaptation of one of those. Matilda Wormwood (Mara Wil
son), a sweet-natured girl, lives a life where adults are the enemy - her parents and the cruel, child-hating headmistress Miss Trunchbull (Pam Ferris) . When she discovers she has telekenitic powers, however, her world becomes a much brighter place. Matilda is a magical, enchanting movie with a fantastic cast. As a little girl I spent hours gazing at inanimate objects trying to make them move - unfortunately to no avail!

The Witches (Roeg, 1990)

One film that always stands out in my mind as absoultely terrifying, another Roald Dahl adaptation. The Witches hate children, none more so than the Grand High Witch (Anjelica Huston). Young Luke Eveshim (Jasen Fisher) gets caught up in their plan to rid the world of all children while holdaying with his grandmother (Mai Zetterling), and must stop them - despite finding himself turned into a mouse! Despite the unmasked Witches scaring me to the point of nightmares, this was a film I'd watch over and over again - even if it was from behind a duvet!

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Stuart, 1971)

So sue me, I really like Roald Dahl. Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) comes from a poor family, but his life changes forever when he finds a 'Golden Ticket' - the chance to visit the factory of  elusive chocolatier Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder). Inside, there are treats and treasures abound - but the four horrible children who visit with him are taught their lesson by Wonka's workers, the vertically challenged, bright orange Oompa Loompas. Like many of Dahl's stories, it is a morality tale - that the good, grateful child will win through in the end. An all-singing feel-good movie, and although Tim Burton's 2005 remake is a visual feast, it will never manage to top the original for me.

The Lion King (Allers & Minkoff, 1994)

The first time I saw this movie was with my dad, at the cinema. I still stand by the fact that he cried. The last time I watched this movie was about 2 weeks ago, with my boyfriend. He probably cried too. In this animated Disney classic, little Simba is heir to the throne at Pride Rock - but when evil uncle Scar blames him for his father's death, he leaves the pride. Alone, he befriends a meerkat and warthog duo, Timon and Pumba, who help him on his journey to realise his true purpose, to overthrow Scar and take his rightful place as king. The animation is perfect Disney magic, and Elton John and Tim Rice's stunning soundtrack is evocative and impossible not to sing along to. Altogether now...HAKUNA MATATA!

The Neverending Story (Petersen, 1984)

Fantasy film is the playground of the young - the magical innocence of still believing it could all be real. In The Neverending Story, Bastian (Barrett Oliver) is a bullied child with a big imagination. He discovers a book describing the world of Fantasia, where boy hero Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) is on a quest to put an end to 'the Nothing'. As the book continues, Bastian finds himself part of the world of Fantasia. Like Bastian to the book, I became so immersed into this film that for a while, I'd forget reality - and wish for my own luckdragon, like Falkor in the movie, to come and take me to a faraway land. The Neverending Story is one of those films that truly captures a child's imagination.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (Burton, 1993)

Despite being a bandwagon piled upon by the teenage emo culture, I loved this film long before it made its way into Hot Topic's ranges. In Burton's groundbreaking stop-motion movie, Jack Skellington, pumpkin king of 'Halloween Town', discovers 'Christmas Town', and decides to bring Christmas cheer to his own world - and take over Christmas. As a little girl, I'd actually draw stitching onto my arms and pretend to be Sally! The film has inspired music and culture over the years, the film appeals to not only children, but adults too. It still gets a regular viewing every Christmas, despite the fact I'm now 22!

Home Alone (Columbus, 1990)

Macauly Culkin stars as 8 year old Kevin, who is accidentally left at home when his family go on holiday over the Christmas vacation. Left to his own devices, he basks in the opportunity to have the run of the house - and acts like a grown-up, splashing on his father's aftershave and going shopping. However, the house is being watched by crooks Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern), and Kevin is put under the very adult pressure of protecting his home. He sets traps to thwart the burgulars creating hilarious slapstick moments, and probably inspiring many young children to plan their own 'home security' (I know I did!). 

Jurassic Park (Spielberg, 1993)

Dinosaurs have been brought back from extinction by John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), with new island theme park Jurassic Park. Palentologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and a group including Hammond's grandchildren are the first to see this groundbreaking new attraction - but when a storm hits, and the dinosaurs get loose, it's a fight for survival. The animatronic dinosaurs are remarkably realistic, and it's hard not to marvel at the world of Jurassic Park. A suspense-filled sci-fi thriller, loved by all ages. Plus, seeing a man get eaten by a T-Rex while sitting on the toilet is definitely up there with the awesomest things to see in a movie.


  1. Awesome picks Milly! Gotta agree with you on Lion King, Home Alone and Jurassic Park - such classics!

    I spent one summer once where I watched The Pagemaster once a day every day for the entire six week summer holiday. Yeah, I'm cool.

  2. Thanks, I still watch them even now, haha! :D