We’ve started a family tradition a few months ago, a Friday Night Family Movie Date, wherein we just stay at home and watch animated movies every Friday night. We’ve seen dozens of movies already — many of course from Disney and Pixar, and several from Hayao Miyazaki and Cartoon Saloon, the makers of The Secret of Kells and The Song of the Sea (which was richly illustrated and stunningly beautiful, by the way) — and we’ve almost exhausted the top-rated animated films from Rotten Tomatoes.
And Bel and I have really come to appreciate these films. They are not merely “cartoons”, but actually are works of art. It’s great because we get to enjoy them with the kids so we have a shared experience, and each movie can also provide us with talking points for conversations about concepts like beauty, truth, goodness, justice, heroism, virtue, evil, sacrifice, love, family, God, and even technology, computers, robots, and science (in the case of Big Hero Six).
We missed our movie date last Friday, so we made up for it today. We saw Toy Story 2 and Sleeping Beauty. It’s amazing that movies as old as Sleeping Beauty, which was made in 1959, still look stunning today. Anyway, my favorite prince by far is Prince Philip because he is what a hero ought to be — valiant, virtuous, and hard-working. He did not have his princess handed to him on a silver platter. He had to fight for her, and he was willing to face hell itself in order to win her, armed with the only weapons that matter — truth (for his sword), virtue (for his shield), and love (the thing that kept him moving).
It’s also great to expose kids to fairy tales, I think, because, in addition to exposing them to things of beauty, you also set their standards high up. For example, I would expect Luke to have the qualities of a prince or a knight when he grows up, and look for a woman who possesses the qualities of a lady or princess. Or I would want Lizzy to conduct herself as a princess would conduct herself, and settle for nothing less than a gallant, heroic, prince-like guy in choosing her husband-to-be.
Once we run out of animated movies to watch, we’ll probably move on to non-animated classics like The Wizard of Oz, which Luke has partly seen and loved, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, which they’ve seen parts of and adore, and so on.