Wonderful movies and childhood go hand in hand. There is a sense of wonder and awe we experience as children that finds fertile ground in movies. This is why even though many adults only watch content rated PG-13/TVMA and above still have a soft spot for their favorite childhood films. Seeing those familiar films is like revisiting an old friend and reliving a taste of that wonder from childhood.
I have loved movies my entire life. Even as a baby, my mother could sit me down in front of a TV screen and I would be transfixed. I was raised on stories and have grown up appreciating them.
Today, I thought I would take a little trip down memory lane and share the movies that defined my childhood. I have chosen movies that have shaped or revealed large parts of my personality and interests. I was inspired, taught, and encouraged by these movies. That is the power of a good movie, a fake (or historical) reality and set of characters can touch and shape our real lives in the real world.
Now, onto the movies!
5. Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch
I saw Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch first even though there were 3 movies in the series that preceded this one. I have always adored dogs, but dogs that do things like people, or even better than people? Oh my goodness!
These movies posses a very special place in my heart. I fell in love with this beautiful dog who regularly saved the Little League team while helping his people through their own difficulties. I may have also had a little crush on Kevin Zegers (Josh), but that was secondary. When I hear the classic theme from these movies I get very emotional because I remember what I felt like as a little girl watching them.
I used to spend hours daydreaming about having a sweet dog named “Buddy” who would be my best friend. It would be so cool. I imagined all the fun we would have together and how he would be super smart.
Air Bud wagged his way into my soul and has stayed there. He made many boring or sad moments in my childhood feel brighter.
You can imagine my dismay at the Buddies movies when the puppies were talking! WHAT?!? The coolest thing about Buddy was that he was smart and resourceful as a DOG! He didn’t need to use words to communicate. He communicated with his actions.
I still dream of having a golden retriever one day. Can you blame me?
4. The Swiss Family Robinson
For a time, this was the only movie that my family owned. You can imagine my delight when watching this film full of adventure, danger, and colorful creativity. One of the books I learned to read on was Robinson Crusoe, so I already had an appreciation for survival stories.
The Swiss Family Robinson took the idea of a “survival” story to a bouncier, more Disneyfied level. These people didn’t just survive, they thrived! They built a beautiful home in the trees for them and their menagerie of exotic animals. Even when faced with the impending danger of pirates, their spirits never lagged and they stepped up to the plate.
So many scenes from this movie are imprinted deeply in my mind. The treehouse reveal is one of my favorites, that place was purely magical. Perhaps that is why I now dream of getting to stay in a treehouse. I loved the scene with the boys swimming in the waterhole and sliding down the waterfall. Can you say dreamy? The Christmas dance when Ernst and Fritz’s jealousy over Roberta comes to a high point. The race day when everyone is on the back of exotic animals and wearing handmade hats. I loved it!
But the best scene by far is when the family is fending off the pirates. Coconut bombs, giant piles of rolling logs, a tiger pit, and trails of gunpowder! MacGyver would have been proud. The ingenuity of this family knew no bounds.
I could probably quote this movie fairly accurately all the way through. That would be because my older brother and I watched it every weekend until Mom made us stop.
In my play as a child, and in my storytelling now, I always admire and enjoy creating people who take the best of a bad situation and make something marvelous out of it. The creativity and ideas of The Swiss Family Robinson have influenced me deeply.
I have since seen another version of this story that is a very realistic and deep take on the concept. Stranded, it’s more emotionally difficult, but also very rewarding. I highly recommend it (warning, a few places of content/comments may not be suitable for children). Still, Disney’s live-action Swiss Family Robinson will always have a place in my personal movie hall of fame.
3. The Jungle Book
Everyone remembers their first Disney movie. This was mine. No, I didn’t start out on Disney princess movies. In fact, I didn’t see a princess movie until I was 16.
The Jungle Book was such a cute story with a cast of unique characters. My favorite was always Bagheera, who got the cold shoulder from Mowgli for being the “stuffy parent”. I always felt bad for Bagheera, he only ever wanted the best for Mowgli and fought to protect this little man-cub. Baloo got all of the fun points, but we all knew it was Bagheera who kept that child alive. I’m still on the Bagheera fan train.
My brother and I watched this many times growing up. We would run around the house singing “The Bare Necessities”. It’s a very sweet memory to me.
Jungle adventure movies are still some of my absolute favorite movies, so The Jungle Book story remains timeless and happy to me.
And yes, I was utterly delighted with the new, live action remake of this beloved film. Jon Favreau took all of the best parts of the movie I grew up with, removed the annoying bits, and then filled out the story. I was fully satisfied and love watching it.
2. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
There is so much to be said about this incredible movie. It is one of Dreamwork’s finest and completely unique. You haven’t seen this movie before, and once you do you will never forget it.
A story of the Old West, about a horse, as told by a horse. You see this movie through Spirit’s eyes and his mind. It’s absolutely mesmerizing on every level.
Spirit touched a very wild part of my soul and brings so many layers to the surface. There is a deep, spiritual level of life that is driven home into the fabric of your soul. Spirit displays passion, perseverance, the choice to fight and never give up, and the struggle to remain unbroken in a very earthy way.
Spirit is as much a spiritual experience as it is watching a movie. The Lord has used this story to speak to me in so many ways over the years and I don’t think we’re done yet.
I watched this movie over and over and over again. I watched it recently again as an adult and it still took my breath away and sent chills down my spine.
1. The Prince of Egypt
Now we have arrived at the 1st movie in my life. The movie has probably done more than any other movie to shape who I am today.
I saw The Prince of Egypt in theaters. It was my first movie ever, and my first movie in theaters. I was 2 years old, and I was completely mesmerized.
The colors, the movement, the story, the music, wow! I drank it up like a thirsty little flower. I couldn’t identify or comprehend everything that this movie taught me, rather, I felt it. I knew that I felt something when I saw the treatment of the slaves and I heard their desperate cries in the music. I felt Moses’s agony and the fear of the Egyptians. I felt the struggle of the Plagues. I felt the fear of the Hebrews as they were crowded against the Red Sea with an army of murderous Egyptians at their backs. And I felt the power when the Red Sea parted and God brought His people through.
We owned some of the soundtracks to this movie. My brother and I used to spend hours dancing to it in the living room. My favorite song happened in the Midianite camp “Through Heaven’s Eyes”. I dare you to listen to this song and not dance. It has such a rhythm of life and a heartbeat to it.
I can remember listening to one of the choral pieces one time, a bit of music describing the Hebrew people’s despair and torment. For the first time in my life, I made the connection between music and emotion. I understood that the song was telling me something from the depths of a person’s heart. I was only 3 years old, and that moment still influences me today.
I love Ancient Egyptian history. I love the story of Moses and the rescue of the Hebrew people. I am a storyteller. I find ways to communicate messages and emotions to others. I am learning and hoping to make movies that speak to people the way this movie spoke to me. The older I get, the more things about myself I find I can trace back to what was awakened in my heart and mind when I watched this film.
I have much, much more I could say on this subject. Stories awaken our hearts and imaginations like nothing else, that is why our first stories are so dear to us. Our childhood movies aren’t just cute memories, they are a part of who we were, and who we are today. They touched us in very personal ways and continue to touch us. I have so enjoyed sharing my favorite childhood movies with you and I hope this has brought back some sweet memories in your own heart.
What movies defined your childhood? Why did you like those movies? Do you still enjoy them today? What did those films make you feel? What did they make you believe in?