I was a creative child to say the least. Well, if you include drawing on every available surface, making up obnoxious yet detailed stories to get myself out of drawing on everything (usually involving a unicorn or something) and making up shows at the drop of a hat. I believed in all the fairy tales and superstitions. The Tooth Fairy: what a babe. Santa Claus: the most fashionable dude this side of christmas.
I was into all the magic and mayhem and I think I had a pretty darn fabulous childhood in that respect. Something else I was really into was film and theatre. From a young age I fell in love with all kinds of story telling, but these might have been my favourite because they felt real and tangible. I mean duh, I can see the magic happening with my own eyes, therefore it must be real, hello!
Up until I was a bonafide teenager I had many favourite films. Not to show my age, but these were all on VHS and all have been replaced with DVDs because the sound just went kaput where I watched them so many times. So, in no particular order, here’s a list of my top 10 favourite childhood films:
1. The Labyrinth.
David Bowie in a Jim Henson, fairy tale flick. What more could you want? A bad ass musical number with goblin puppets, you say? Oh yeah, it’s got that too. With a dark tone and some scary moments, the whole ordeal is on just the right side of creepy, still remaining fun and magical. Well, it was better than The Dark Crystal at any rate, (that ones got a serious Clockwork Orange vibe.)
2. Mary Poppins
Julie Andrews will forever be my Queen. She is just amazing. This story is just full of colour and magic and songs and dances and in Dick Van Dyke’s defence, my five year old self didn’t realise he wasn’t English. Plus, Mary Poppins is super sassy and takes nothing from no-one.
3. Hocus Pocus
The Halloween film, to end all halloween films. I loved witches. Barbie could just go to the mall and stay there, because witches and wizards were where is was at. Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker were, and remain to be, my favourite witches ever. To me they will forever be the evil one, the stupid one and the pretty one from Hocus Pocus, forgoing any other achievements.
Grease came a little later on and most of the more adult jokes went over my head. I was just amazed that school in America looked so fun and no one had to wear uniforms! They all sang and danced and had cool hair and fab sleepovers and A FUNFAIR WHEN THEY LEFT SCHOOL! This was my coming of age film and I even bought a pink ladies jacket to solidify that.
5. Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
And so began my love affair with Angela Lansbury. I think this film holds a special place in my heart because I always watched it with my Nan, who reminded me a lot of Miss. Price. The film is just full of fun and imagination. It’s like a dirty Mary Poppins, where they travel by bed instead of banister, have spell books instead of carpet bags and when they’re not underwater, they’re fighting with gangsters. All this and they even have time to help win World War II.
6. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
I was obsessed with the books. I found them a long time before they blew up, simply because I was so obsessed with witches and wizards, my Mum thought she’d try them out on me. Et Voila, one of the biggest Potterheads in town was born. Magic, mayhem and nerds. The best combination.
7. The Sound of Music
It was a phase. I even played Brigitta in a school production of it. Recently I was carrying an old style suitcase down the road and went full out Maria. Don’t take me anywhere near a hill unless you want to know that it’s alive. Darn, that film just stuck like wallpaper. No matter how many layers you put over the top, my love for the Von Trapps’ still remains.
8. Back to the Future.
Another one to come a little later on, but became a firm favourite to the point that I had a framed, A1 sized, film poster on my bedroom wall for many, MANY years. This came about when I got really interested in science, so my Mum relented and let me watch it (she was wary of the swear-ies). Good job she did, otherwise I never would have gotten so into mechano and building stuff, leading me to end up at the ford factory, building robots when I was twelve (true story bro). It’s futuristic in an ironic way, with loads of fun and a great leading character and actor!
9. Drop Dead Fred.
This is another of those children’s films that tells it how it is. Most kids have imaginary friends and do naughty stuff and blame it on them. However, this film goes beyond that and shows the rude and crude side, but also how much fun kids have when they just let their imagination run riot. It also shows just how people can learn to grow, emotionally and independently, when left with someone who cares, whether they are real or otherwise. It also has one of the best performances ever from the late, great Rik Mayall.
Last but not least, one of the most aesthetically beautiful films of my childhood and a small part of my cries every time someone tells me they hate it or it’s rubbish. Maybe it is a crap film that I only love because it played such a big part in my childhood or maybe it was because Dustin Hoffman is the best Captain Hook I’ve ever seen (followed very closely by Jason Isaacs). Maybe it was because my favourite story as a child was Peter Pan or maybe it was because I thought the late Robin Williams was just the funniest, most magical man in the world (outside of my family). You have to admit, ignoring every other snipe you have with this film, the art design goes above and beyond. Every tiny detail is there. IT’S LIKE IT’S MADE OF MAGIC.
The Neverending Story.
Because aside from the terrifying, slightly traumatic tales and dying horses, it teaches us that we are all part of a story that never ends. We write our own adventures, our own futures and choose who we want to be… so if we say there’s flying dog dragons, there’s flying dog dragons, goddamnit!
What were your favourites?