x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

For family movie night, you can't beat the classics

We take a look at some of our favourite films from yesteryear that are guaranteed to keep the entire family well entertained.

The British child star Hayley Mills in the 1960 film Pollyanna. Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images
The British child star Hayley Mills in the 1960 film Pollyanna. Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images

With the family movie marketplace flooded with computer animated spectaculars this summer, it's easy to forget the many, many classics that have entertained generations before Buzz Lightyear, Shrek or the Ice Age gang were even thought up. With children practically housebound during the hot months of the summer vacation, and Eid just around the corner, here's our run-down of 10 great family movies from the past that will provide a wonderful alternative for adventure-hungry youngsters and their parents alike.

The Neverending Story (1984)

A shy young boy's imagination combines with a magical book in Wolfgang Petersen's fantasy epic, taking the lead character Bastian into the mystical world of Fantasia, which is under threat from an evil force called "The Nothing". Although not a hit in cinemas, its success on video and DVD has meant it has gained a cult following.

Pollyanna (1960)

A cheerful and good natured young orphan goes to live with her rich aunt, and immediately changes both her life and the lives of the people around her. The 1960 Disney hit made a star out of the child actress Hayley Mills and turned a potentially saccharine story into a sincere and uplifting tale.

Freaky Friday (1976)

Before Jodie Foster was an Oscar-winning actress, she was a successful child star, and one of her best family movies was this 1976 comedy about a mother and daughter who switch bodies, forcing them to live each other's lives. This tongue-in-cheek morality tale is streets ahead of the mundane 2003 remake starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

Now over 50 years old, the story of a family of castaways making their home on a desert island was billed at the time as "the greatest adventure story of them all", and it's easy to see why. Shipwrecks, fights with wild and dangerous animals and fantastic houses built on treetops … the classic German novel is literally brought to life.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1968)

Angela Landsbury plays guardian to three young children evacuated to the English countryside during the Second World War, only for the young trio to discover that their new carer is actually a witch. Wonderfully light-hearted fun: animation and live action are mixed to create a wonderful, magical world.

The Iron Giant (1999)

Our first fully animated movie, this "traditionally animated" story of a boy who makes friends with a giant robot from outer space may have flown under the radar due to the rising trend of CGI animations, but everyone who saw this late 1990s tearjerker was touched forever. A modern classic.

An American Tail (1986)

Equally likely to put a lump in your throat is An American Tail, an animated allegory of the plight of immigrants to the US in the 1800s. We follow Fievel, a talking Russian mouse, newly arrived in the land of opportunity, only to become separated from his family. His mission to find them will make you laugh, cry and sing along.

The Railway Children (1970)

A British live action drama that consistently makes the "best ever" lists for movies made in the country. The film focuses on the adventures of three children who live near a railway line in the north of England, where they have moved following the mysterious disappearance of their father. A classic period adventure.

Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang (1968)

Two great authors combine for a truly unique film, based on the book by the James Bond author Ian Fleming and written for the screen by the children's author Roald Dahl. The movie follows an eccentric inventor and his children as they create a fantastic flying car. The definition of 1960s surrealism, the villain The Child Catcher is just one of the many vivid characters who make up the wonderful world captured in this superb movie.

The Princess Bride (1987)

We could take up a whole page with memorable quotes from this 1980s feel-good fantasy movie. Rob Reiner (Stand By Me) directs Peter Falk as a grandfather who tells his under-the-weather son (Fred Savage of The Wonder Years) an adventure story, only for the adventure of Westley (Cary Elwes) and his true love Buttercup (Robin Wright) to come to life before our very eyes. Wonderful characters, a fantastic script, exciting swordfights and a happy ending - what more could you want from a fairytale?


Honorable mentions: Slightly more famous family flicks that deserve a shout out.

ET: The Extra Terrestrial (1980)

A lost little alien phones home … and breaks our hearts. The hit film that made Steven Spielberg an icon.

The Goonies (1985)

Another Spielberg-produced adventure featuring caves, treasure and the best young cast to ever grace the big screen.

Labyrinth (1986)

David Bowie leads a host of Jim Henson puppets in a dark and exciting movie, starring a young Jennifer Connelly.

The Sound of Music (1965)

The popularity of the Von Trapp family and their singing governess endures to this day, with regular sing-a-long screenings of the film continuing to be held around the world.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Possibly the most beloved family film of all time. The Kansas girl Dorothy's adventures in the wonderful land of Oz has inspired musicals, books and next year's blockbuster prequel Oz:The Great and Powerful, starring James Franco, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz.

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