Fantasia (1940)

Fantasia (film)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Released: 1940

Rated: G

Length: 120 – 124 min. (varies depending on what version you have)

Age: some parts 3+, others 5+ (see below)  Commonsense Media sez: 6 +

Scary Factor: Mickey attacks renegade broom with an axe and savagely chops it to bits; battle to the death between two dinosaurs; a gigantic devil rises over a mountain commanding a host of demons, the dead rise from their graves

Also: some modest (dare I say artful) nudity among fairies and mythological creatures; much wine drunk by very tipsy god Bacchus

Interests: classical music, fairies, mythology, dinosaurs, ballet

Next: the movie Fantasia 2000; live symphony concerts for children; Nutcracker ballet live or movie version
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Martin Scorsese on Visual Literacy

Here’s a great 2006 interview with the director, in which he makes the case for teaching young people visual literacy by watching and making movies. (courtesy of Edutopia)

With the increasing dominance of media imagery in our daily landscape, it’s important that our children learn how messages are put together, how their eyes are being directed, how their emotions are being played, and maybe even how to craft images themselves. After all, the rise of digital media has made image collection and manipulation available and affordable for everyone. The next generations are increasingly going to be confronted, pummelled, swayed and played by the media-makers, and basic visual literacy will help them negotiate this new landscape.

The Problem With the News

tv

It’s been a bad week in the news. There’s never really a good week in the news, because the main function of the news is to tell you all the bad stuff, but this week was particularly awful. As adults, we can put these stories into some kind of perspective. Usually. Not always successfully, on a week like this one. Because it’s really hard to shake off the sense that threat is everywhere and disaster waits around every corner.

If it’s hard for us, think how much harder it is for children to process disturbing news stories. Not just the stories, but the relentless images that accompany them – distraught people, photos of the victims, disaster zones, war zones, fires, crumbling buildings, the wounded, the dead.

I stopped watching television news long ago, partly because I don’t have time for it but also because the reporting was becoming too sensational and, frankly, too stupid. The radio has provided me with ample information of current events, and in a much less disturbing manner.

Until this week. Whenever my daughter was around I found myself lunging across the room to click off the radio whenever a newscast began… every hour on the hour. The way the story was being handled just made me sick, so I wasn’t sorry to give up on my radio news entirely. (What put me over the top was a snippet I heard before shutting it off, in which a reporter was asking someone if any of the child victims suffered.)

I’ve come across a couple of helpful links here for parents who want to reassure their kids about recent events – some advice on how to console your children and make them feel secure and safe.

Fred Rogers on Tragic Events in the News

PBS: Talking With Kids About News

Commonsense Media: Explaining the News to Our Kids

As for us, we’ve been on a media fast for this week of tragedy. When I shield my daughter from newscasts, am I preventing her from learning about the world? Only if you think the nightly news is an accurate and balanced portrayal of that world. Until our broadcasters show a little more taste and restraint when reporting on the tragedies of the day, I am glad to just leave the radio off.

In a previous post I wrote about what scares children of different ages, and touched upon the effect of news reports – What Scares Your Child.

Family Christmas Movies – a List

Commonsense Media is my go-to source for checking out the age appropriateness of movies, and here is their list of the most well-known holiday movies, and some not so well known.

Scrooge's third visitor, from Charles Dickens:...

Scrooge’s third visitor, from Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With Illustrations by John Leech. London: Chapman & Hall, 1843. First edition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My 6 1/2 yr old and I are definitely going to watch A Christmas Carol, but a different version – I’ve got the Alastair Sim version from 1951 on VHS. I think the Dickens classic is a terrific choice, not just for the Christmas theme but also as an introduction to other Dickens works, and a great period piece drama as well… nice for the young ones to see something from another time period. (Unbeknownst to my daughter, this is early training for watching the 6 vol. version of Pride and Prejudice with me some day!)

NB. Commonsense rates my 1951 version a little older (age 7), and says it’s darker than the 1938 film.

One thing I particularly like about A Christmas Carol is that it’s kind of a conceptual bridge for kids. They see so many black-and-white bad guy-good guy stories that it’s interesting to see what they think about a bad guy who is not only the main character, but becomes a sympathetic figure and eventually turns good. Very good. And the triumphant, warm ending is a great payoff for viewers of any age.

Related Posts:

On Dickens and school reading

All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.