Thursday, 12 January 2012

family movie

Tonite Megan, Matiu and I watched the movie Waterhorse - and then near the end we were joined by Daniel who came to stay too. I was feeling like a movie we'd all enjoy (a 'family' movie as they're called), and I didn't feel like watching a cartoon, and also didn't want one that was all individualistic or competitive... just a nice family movie like we used to watch when we were younger. You know, like a 2000s version of The Sound of Music or Annie or ET. However, it turns out these aren't so easy to come by these days (yeah I know, I sound jaded and cynical) - so I scrolled through netflicks looking for something to grab me and not finding much at all. Matiu kept chiming in as he saw the titles that were potential options, 'oh yes! that one!' but I kept vetoing them because they didn't fit what I was looking for.

In the end, we decided on Waterhorse which was about the Loch Ness monster and was set during WWII. Actually I'd seen it before (something I realised once we started watching) and, it turns out, the film was partly made in NZ (something Megan and I realised once we started to recognise various actors)... but it was very enjoyable and exactly what I was hoping for...

After Matiu was in bed, Megan and Daniel and I had a discussion about these mythical 'family movies' I was remembering and started to wonder whether these actually existed anyway, outside the few above-mentioned classics and perhaps a couple more besides.

Indeed, some of the films and books we used to love are now somewhat questionable - we talked about books we'd enjoyed as kids which as adults we could now recognise as colonial/ sexist/ whatever... like, for example (and I'm gutted to say it) The BFG, the fabulous and amazing book I loved as a child and which I gave to Matiu for Christmas. We finished it a couple of nights ago, and I admit that I felt a little unsettled by the end of it...

Really? A story about an English girl recruiting the Queen of England to instruct the British military to go to a place that exists far, far away off the map in order to capture human-eating giants (which had been described as large, dark, with loin cloths and short dark hair and broken English) and bring them back to be kept in a kind of zoo? Really? REALLY? It was fun doing the British accents when reading aloud, but I wondered about the deeper story the book was telling about the rights and responsibility of European travel to distant lands in order to sedate and control the violent brutes who lived there... hmmmm. An over-reading? Perhaps. But a danger of contributing to a layering of narratives which normalise imperialism as an appropriate and natural - indeed a humane - structure? Hmmm, worth thinking about.  

I feel a bit sad to find that the story I loved has these other layers... and yes I do have to balance this with the fact that I loved the book when I was a kid and it therefore would have contributed in its own way to my love of reading...  I don't think you can wrap your kids in cotton wool, but when I look at Matiu and see the sheer detail he's taking in from the books we read and movies we watch, it doesn't feel like it's good enough to say 'but I enjoyed it!' It's true, but is it enough?

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