Thursday, July 2, 2009

Quality Family Entertainment

When we think back on those films which shaped us as children, we observe that, in most cases, they were either terrifying, traumatic, or both. We refer to those exceptional films and television specials intended for a young audience, yet offering tragedy and horror.

The most famous of these was Bambi, of course, which taught a generation about death. But certainly there are darker forces in the universe than hunters. We refer to those things beyond time and between the holes in reality.

We speak of Lovecraftian horrors, of darkest evil and fearsome magic. We speak of things that always hunger and can never die.

In other words, good wholesome family fun.

Of course, there are some who reject the notion that such things should be made available to the young. To them, we say, "Bah!" The Secret of NIMH may have scared me as a child, but it opened my eyes to greater possibilities.

As soon as I was able to sit through it. In college.

Movies like The Secret of NIMH and The Dark Crystal taught us fear, The Last Unicorn taught us regret, Watership Down showed us a side of adventure and war most movies wouldn't touch, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit showed us the nature of evil.

But then something happened. Studios became timid. Then came the long years where such films were all but extinct. Oh, there was the occasional Chicken Run or Babe, but these were few and far between.

At last, the drought seems to be ending. Recent years have seen Pixar begin to touch on Disney's dark past with the opening to Finding Nemo and Wall-E's post-apocalyptic wasteland. And this year has already seen the release of Coraline, with 9 coming up this fall.

On top of this, Tim Burton is working on a reimagining of Alice in Wonderland reminiscent of American McGee's Alice.

The importance of these movies cannot be overstated. These filmmakers are the architects of nightmare. We in The Middle Room applaud such work: may the next generation's dreams be as fascinating and horrific as ours. They are, after all, what sculpted us into who we are today.


Sam said...

I really wish City of Ember had done better business. I certainly can't remember a better children's film set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia.

Erin Snyder said...

I still need to see that.

Unknown said...

The phrase "things that always hunger and never die" is awesome. I am going to steal it and subsequently devalue it by using it too much and in unfortunate contexts.