Film wasteland

Now that we’re in San Antonio, where summer temperatures routinely hit 3 digits, we have been trying to come up with things to do during the sweltering afternoons. A summer movie matinee with little A sounded especially fun, and V and I both loved the idea of sneaking off during a weekday afternoon to introduce A to the big screen.

Well, easier said than done.

This sweet little scenario requires a suitable film to show a five-year old, but the only ones out there are sequels to films we would never watch or films coasting on manufactured excitement–3D! Computer generated!

We just watched My Friend Totoro  on DVD. The film gets me teary every time. What I love about it is that the story pays attention to the small details of childhood, relationships, and the inherent magic of the natural world. There isn’t a simplistic conflict between good and evil. There aren’t cheesy stock characters with strained one-liners. The film takes its time to tell a story about two young girls who move with their father to the country to be near their mother, who is sick at a hospital. As the children explore their new house and surroundings, they stumble upon wood sprites and creatures. The film is charming, fantastical yet emotionally true. There isn’t a pat ending because the film treats its audience with respect.

Why aren’t there more films like this? Children are smart. They don’t need to be spoon-fed stories that wrap up neatly in a bow.

Please. Someone in Movieland. Make a film for children that expands their world rather than scripts them into recycled cliches.


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