Maybe this is true for every generation, but as a 90’s kid, I have the biased view that I grew up in the ultimate era of classic, timeless children’s cinema. As far as I’m concerned, they can make as many sequels and reimagining’s as they like, but they’ll never compare to the originals. I mean, I grew up with films like The Lion King, Space Jam and Toy Story. You can’t top that!
But this list is dedicated to some of the forgotten films of my childhood. A little bit less iconic, a little bit less well-known. I’m sure there’ll be a few on here that people won’t even recognise and I hope there are a few that stir up long forgotten memories of sleepovers and shelves of cherished VHS tapes.
Kirikou and the sorceress
I had to kick off this list with one of the most visually stunning animated films I’ve ever seen. With the most exquisite colours, detailed backgrounds and the tiniest talking baby ever, this film takes elements of tradition West African folk tales to tell a satisfying story of the evil that comes from pain and the beauty born through bravery.
Forget Pinocchio, let’s talk about this live-action, musical re-telling of the story of his dad starring Drew Carey, Wayne Brady and Julia Louise-Dreyfus! I don’t even know how I first discovered this film. I do however still know the words to all of the songs.
Rudolph’s Shiny New Year
Until I started writing this list, I didn’t even know the name of this film. Whenever it’s come on TV around Christmas (normally, oddly, at around three in the morning) I’ve always just referred to as Baby Christmas and the Sands of Time (which, I suppose, is a pretty specific title for a film that’s called something entirely different). It has that creepy, haunted vibe that I think all stop-motion films from that era have; crackly vocals and stiffly moving figurines without facial expressions. I’ve seen Baby Christmas- I mean, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year a million times. I still couldn’t tell you what it’s actually about.
The Witches scared the life out of me. I’m sure my juvenile mind has supressed memories of this film because looking back, my recollections switch from vague snippets of the story to vivid imagery of green smoke, people melting out of their clothes, bald, warted women and little boys being turned into mice??
The Prince of Egypt
I mean, need I say more?
I can’t believe I almost forgot about Antz! I may have missed whatever message this animated movie had to offer about individuality and stepping out from the crowd and how any zero can become a hero. All I took from it was a sudden and consistent urge to try to harness the power of the sun through a magnifying glass to see if it could really make a magic laser beam that would burn little bugs. The song Guantanamera which I think features in one scene also apparently made a huge impression on me because it’s all I can think of any time someone mentions ants.
The Indian in the Cupboard
A little bit un-PC nowadays with is stereotyped and inaccurately depicted ‘Indian’ Little Bear, The Indian in the Cupboard convinced me that my Polly Pockets came to life every time I put them in their little cases. And that topless man may have possibly been my first crush.
Anita And Me
No-one I’ve ever spoken to about Anita and Me has heard of it. It’s a funny, British coming-of-age film, exploring the typical issues faced by adolescent girls, and with a string of personal cultural and racial acceptance throughout. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” the protagonist, Meena, is asked. “Blonde.” she replies.
You must remember Andre! And can you believe it’s based on a true story? Plus, the little girl in it grew up to play Deb in Napoleon Dynamite.
A Little Princess
Somehow this film never made me cry as a child, but watching it at theage of 22, I can honestly say, it had me sobbing like a baby. I mean, “You are alone in the world!” *Dramatic balloon pop!*Why are you doing this to me!? And if you say you’ve never drawn a ‘magic’ chalk circle around yourself since watching this, believing that “so long as you stay inside it, no harm can come to you”, you’re lying.
Jungle 2 Jungle
This film!!! You’d forgotten about it, hadn’t you!? So had I!
And on the same note;
George of the Jungle
Watch out for that tree! Okay. So many exclamation marks. Can you tell I’m getting excited? Brendan Fraser in George of the Jungle was another of my early crushes. I must’ve had a thing for rugged, topless, warrior types. If you haven’t re-watched this film since your childhood, I really suggest you do. It’s so funny how what is clearly a man in a monkey suit can seem so realistic and believable when you’re a kid!
Fly Away Home
They loved dramatically killing off parents in our childhood movies didn’t they? For whatever reason, though I loved this film, it didn’t really help to change my poor opinion on geese.
Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Another film whose real name was irrelevant to me as a child; Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella was known throughout my house (not just by me, but by my big sister and my parents) as Black Cinderella. This one has to be my absolute favourite childhood film. I watched it so often for such a long period of my life that to this day, each song stirs up some of my most vivid childhood memories dating back to the flat we lived in until I was four and the bunkbed from which my sister and I used to belt out the entire soundtrack word for word. (Though, looking back, we didn’t’ know the words quite as well as we thought we did. I guess ‘I’m a huntress on an African safari’ was quite complicated for our young minds. I still sing that line as ‘I’m a hunchasaurus, punchasaurus Barbie’).
Also Worth Mentioning;
- Honey I Shrunk the Kids
- Richie Rich
- The Secret Garden
- Mighty Joe Young
Obviously, this list is indicative of the films that I watched when I was younger. I’d love to hear what other people see as the ultimate films from their childhood. Let me know in a comment below!