A list of the top period films available to stream and on DVD that are family-friendly and take place during the Tudor era, Stuart era, Georgian / Regency eras, Victorian era, Edwardian era, First World War, Interwar, Second World War, and beyond. Costume period dramas filmed in England, UK and other countries set in that time period that are safe for children to watch, with family values, some that are faith-based. Television mini-series, PBS, BBC, Masterpiece Theatre productions, historical dramas, heritage films, movies based on classic books and literature. Jane Austen adaptations. More to come!
For the lists of the best period dramas and recommended documentaries in additional eras, wander over to: What To Watch: The Period Films List
Please note that all of the lists have multiple pages.
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A soldier develops a strong bond with a cub before he is sent to fight in World War I.
The heartwarming family film A BEAR NAMED WINNIE dramatizes the true story that inspired one of the most beloved children's book characters of all time. On the eve of World War I, Canadian soldier Lt. Harry Coleburn (Michael Fassbender) adopts an orphaned bear cub and, after naming her Winnie (for the city of Winnipeg), decides to make her the unofficial mascot of his army regiment. When Harry and his troop are deployed to the trenches of France, Winnie is temporarily housed at the London Zoo, where author A.A. Milne meets the bear and uses her as the inspiration for his children's stories, WINNIE THE POOH.
Starring Michael Fassbender, Gil Bellows, David Suchet, Stephen Fry, Jonathon Young.
In 19th century Belgium, a boy named Nello becomes an orphan at the age of two when his mother dies in the Ardennes. His grandfather Jehann Daas, who lives in a small village near the city of Antwerp, takes him in. One day, Nello and Jehann Daas find a dog who was almost beaten to death, and name him Patrasche. Due to the good care of Jehann Daas, the dog recovers, and from then on, Nello and Patrasche are inseparable. Thanks to the support of a loving dog that he helps nurse back to health, an aspiring young artist never gives up hope, despite the hardships.
Starring Jack Warden, Jeremy James Kissner, Jesse James, Jon Voight, Cheryl Ladd.
I would recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a traditional good family film. It is beautifully set, sentimental to a point, and an endearing memory to hold. - Viewer
Parents need to know that this video shows many deeply affecting scenes involving a beaten dog, and the death of a grandfather. It also depicts the death of a dog-abuser by a windmill blade, which some younger children may not understand. - Common Sense Media
There is also a A Dog of Flanders (1959) starring Monique Ahrens, Theodore Bikel, Max Croiset, Katherine Holland, John Soer. Both films have a revised happier ending than that of the original book.
BBC brings its whimsical 1986 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland to DVD! One of the most well-known stories begins one golden summer afternoon. Alice is sitting on a riverbank with her sister when a fully-dressed, talking rabbit runs past her. She follows the rabbit down the hole and enters a nonsensical world where it seems the normal rules of logic do not apply. In Wonderland, Alice participates in a winnerless race, alternates between being tiny and giant, hears riddles at a "mad" tea party, plays croquet with live flamencos, and attends a trial where the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the Queen's tarts. Join Alice as she encounters the Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and others as she makes her way through Wonderland!
Extremely faithful to Carroll’s work, and nearly all of the dialogue (including a number of songs) seems to have been lifted directly from the original text, and it covers most of the book. Having suffered through the plastic Tim Burton movie, Carroll scholars will surely find this a worthy adaptation based on the dialogue alone. What sold me on this Alice was the dawning realization that Letts and Dicks are seemingly paying homage of sorts to the 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz. The styles used to achieve the two productions are similar, even though they’re separated by decades and tools. Today, the painted backgrounds used to frequently bring Oz to life would be unthinkable, as would these flat CSO backgrounds – but the end results aren’t terribly different if you analyze them sans prejudice. We (hopefully) make allowances for Oz when we watch it today because it’s an understood classic, and forgive that it’s a product of its time, just as this Alice is of its time, and just as importantly, its place: BBC TV. - Ross Ruediger
Starring Kate Dorning, Mark Bassenger, Jonathan Cecil, Ysanne Churchman, Claire Davenport.
Note: You may also be interested in Alice Through the Looking Glass (1973) BBC: "While both programs present frequently disturbing visions that no doubt haunted the children of their respective days, it seems unlikely that kids weaned on the production values and dramatic pacing of today would find much to appreciate here. No, from today’s vantage point, this is fare for adults who can appreciate the conditions under which these shows were created, or people who just want to soak up as many screen versions of Carroll’s literature as possible." - Ross Ruediger
The special effects for both films were produced using what would now be considered primitive green-screen work.
Also see Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the 1972 British film version all-star musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic tale starring Fiona Fullerton, Peter Sellers, Michael Crawford and Dudley Moore, and the timeless black and white Alice in Wonderland (1933) starring Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, W.C. Fields, Richard Arlen, Leon Errol.
Tumble down the rabbit hole with Alice for a fantastical new adventure from Walt Disney Pictures and Tim Burton. Inviting and magical, Alice In Wonderland is an imaginative new twist on one of the most beloved stories of all time. Alice (Mia Wasikowska), now 19 years old, returns to the whimsical world she first entered as a child and embarks on a journey to discover her true destiny. This Wonderland is a world beyond your imagination and unlike anything you ve seen before. The extraordinary characters you ve loved come to life richer and more colorful than ever. There s the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen) and more. A triumphant cinematic experience Alice In Wonderland is an incredible feast for your eyes, ears and heart that will captivate audiences of all sizes.
Tim Burton was born to bring Alice in Wonderland to the big screen. Ironically, his version of the Victorian text plays more like The Wizard of Oz than a Lewis Carroll adaptation. On the day of her engagement party, the 19-year-old Alice (a nicely understated Mia Wasikowska) is lead by a white-gloved rabbit to an alternate reality that looks strangely familiar--she's been dreaming about it since she was 6 years old. Stranded in a hall of doors, she sips from a potion that makes her shrink and nibbles on a cake that makes her grow. Once she gets the balance right, she walks through the door that leads her to Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Matt Lucas), the Dormouse (Barbara Windsor), the Blue Caterpillar (Alan Rickman), and the Cheshire Cat (a delightful Stephen Fry), who inform her that only she can free them from the wrath of the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter channeling Bette Davis) by slaying the Jabberwocky. To pull off the feat, she teams up with the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp in glam-rock garb), rebel bloodhound Bayard (Timothy Spall), and Red's sweet sister, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway in goth-rock makeup). While Red welcomes Alice with open arms, she plans an execution for the hat-maker when he displeases her ("Off with his head!"). Drawing from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Burton creates a candy-colored action-adventure tale with a feminist twist. If it drags towards the end, his 3-D extravaganza still offers a trippy good time with a poignant aftertaste. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Produced by Walt Disney Pictures.
Starring Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter.
Note: Parents need to know that Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland might be rated PG, but it's pretty intense and scary at times for younger kids, especially because it's in 3-D. This trippy adaptation -- in which Alice is a young adult -- includes some fantasy violence with scary monsters that attack people, a cruel Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) who frequently sentences people to death, and a climactic battle scene between sword-brandishing humans, animals, and beasts. Some parents might want to know that a caterpillar (played by Alan Rickman) smokes a hookah, but this is as Lewis Carroll depicted the character. The language includes taunting insults like "stupid," "imbecile," "idiot," "bloody," and the like, and the sexuality is limited to one kiss between a married man and another woman and some aggressive flirting. - Common Sense Media
Amelia Shankley shines as Sara Crewe in this faithful adaptation of the beloved children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden). Produced for London Weekend Television, this mini-series fully captures the spirit of the original novel and brings all of its extraordinary characters to life.
Sara Crewe has always been the pampered darling of her doting father, a British Indian Army captain, and the exclusive boarding school she attends. But when her father dies and her fortune is lost, Sara becomes the victim of hardship and cruelty. Through friendship, imagination and her own resolute nature, the “little princess” finds her way back to happiness. As seen on PBS “Wonderworks” – WINNER, Parents’ Choice Award and BAFTA Award for Best Children’s Program
Starring Maureen Lipman, Miriam Margolyes and Nigel Havers.
Parents need to know that Burnett's novel is a beautiful, fanciful, old-fashioned story with a complex heroine. The book is sweet and uplifting throughout, but Sara does suffer a terrible loss and is ill-treated by Miss Minchin, which could upset very young children. This classic novel also contains some old-fashioned attitudes. Becky asks if a new neighbor is a "Chinee" because his skin is "yellow." Sara recalls her time living in India, where she had an "ayah who adored her," and servants bowed to her. These passages carry a note of racial stereotyping, but Sara's goodness to all people overshadows her outmoded perspective. The novel has been made into two very good movies: the 1939 version starring Shirley Temple, and a lovely remake from 1995 (see below). Though neither film is true to the plot of the book, both versions are wonderful and faithful to the spirit of Burnett's story and characters. - Common Sense Media
In this sumptuous adaptation of the beloved children's classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a young girl reared in the jungles of India lives an enchanted life filled with wealth, exotic adventures and a father's love. But when tragedy strikes, she must rely on her will and imagination to relive the joy of her wondrous childhood. Set in 1914.
After the critical success of 1993's The Secret Garden, Warner Bros. returned to the novels of Frances Hodgson Burnett to create this 1995 adaptation of A Little Princess, which instantly ranked with The Secret Garden as one of the finest children's films of the 1990s. Neither film was a huge box-office success, but their quality speaks for itself, and A Little Princess has all the ingredients of a timeless classic. A marvel of production design, the film features lavish sets built almost entirely on a studio backlot in Burbank, California. The story opens in New York just before the outbreak of World War I, when young Sara (Liesel Matthews) is enrolled in private boarding school while her father goes off to war. Under the domineering scrutiny of the school's wicked headmistress, Miss Minchen (Eleanor Bron), Sara quickly becomes popular with her schoolmates, but fate intervenes and she soon faces a stern reversal of fortune, resorting to wild flights of fancy to cope with an unexpectedly harsh reality. Rather than label her fanciful tales as escapist fantasy, A Little Princess actively encourages a child's power of imagination--a power that can be used to learn, grow, and adapt to a world that is often cruel and difficult. It's also one of the most visually beautiful films of the '90s and creates a fully detailed world within the boarding school--a place where imagination is vital to survival. A first-class production in every respect, this is one family film that should (if it's not too stuffy to say it) be considered required viewing for parents and kids alike. --Jeff Shannon
Starring Eleanor Bron, Liam Cunningham, Liesel Matthews, Rusty Schwimmer, Arthur Malet.
Parents need to know that this movie includes images of war with dead men strewn about trenches and explosions in the background. Sara loses her father in one of the battles and mourns him for much of the movie. Her mother also is dead. One scary scene shows Sara almost falling to her death. Sara is a remarkable character, however. She sticks up for herself and others at all times and captivates all the school girls with her imaginative stories. - Common Sense Media
Amazing Grace tells the inspiring story of William Wilberforce and his passion and perseverance to pass a law ending the slave trade in the late 18th century. Several friends, including Wilberforce's minister, a reformed slave ship captain who penned the beloved hymn Amazing Grace, urge him to see the cause through.
Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Albert Finney, Michael Gambon, Romola Garai and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Parents need to know that a former slave and a former slave ship captain describe slavery in direct, no-holds-barred language. Flashbacks and dream sequences also involve slavery. A horse is beaten in an early scene. Instruments of physical abuse -- chains, restraints, clamps -- appear on screen. Men smoke pipes, and several characters drink liquor at parties and sometimes alone. Wilberforce suffers from colitis and takes opium-based medicine to treat it. Mild language ("hell" and "damn"), plus one very pointed use of the "N" word. - Common Sense Media
Two-time Academy Award Winner Hilary Swank delivers an unforgettable performance as Amelia Earhart, the legendary American aviatrix who boldly flew into the annals of history. Richard Gere co-stars as her charismatic business partner and adoring husband George Putnam. Bound by ambition and love, their enduring marriage could not be broken by Amelia's determination to fly -- nor her passionate affair with Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor). Equal parts gripping drama, stirring romance and epic adventure, AMELIA will take your breath away and send your spirit soaring!
An extraordinary life of adventure, celebrity and continuing mystery comes to light in "Amelia," a vast, thrilling account of legendary aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart. After becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, Amelia was thrust into a new role as America's sweetheart -- the legendary "goddess of light," known for her bold, larger-than-life charisma. Yet, even with her global fame solidified, her belief in flirting with danger and standing up as her own, outspoken woman never changed. She was an inspiration to people everywhere, from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to the men closest to her heart: her husband, promoter and publishing magnate George P. Putnam, and her long time friend and lover, pilot Gene Vidal. In the summer of 1937, Amelia set off on her most daunting mission yet: a solo flight around the world that she and George both anxiously foresaw as destined, whatever the outcome, to become one of the most talked-about journeys in history.
Starring Hilary Swank, Richard Donat, Christopher Eccleston, Richard Gere, Thomas Hauff.
Note: Some found this to be a dull movie, others praised it for its cinematography. Time Out said that it is "Inoffensive, arcane and ultimately rather sweet, 'Amelia' is one to take your grandmother to." Might be good for homeschooling?
In her small frontier town, Abbie finds herself being courted by two different men, Will and Ed. After promising Ed her hand, her true love, Will comes back from the war asking the same. Abbie choses Will and the pair leave town for land out West. With only the pearls her mother gave her as a wedding gift and her love of singing, Abbie discovers that life on the prairie is tough on her marriage and her dream.
A Civil War veteran (Adrian Pasdar) and his wife (Nancy McKeon) face hardships as pioneers settling farmland in 1800s Nebraska. based on the 1928 novel A Lantern In Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich.
Starring Nancy McKeon, Adrian Pasdar, Adam Storke, Lucy Deakins, Jeremy London.
A spirited orphan with a vivid imagination endears herself to the older couple who take her in...and everyone else around her.
In this film adaption of Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic novel, aging siblings Matthew (O.P. Heggie) and Marilla Cuthbert (Helen Westley) await the arrival of an orphan boy they've secured to work on their family farm, Green Gables. Much to Marilla's chagrin, the orphanage sends a girl named Anne Shirley (Anne Shirley) instead. When Anne falls for her new classmate Gilbert (Tom Brown), the son of a rival family, it may test the Cuthberts' patience -- and threaten the stability of her new life.
Freckle-faced Anne Shirley, whom Mark Twain once described as fiction's dearest child since Lewis Carroll's little girl, reaches the screen in an enormously fine and touching bit of homespinning called "Anne of Green Gables." Here, in the authentically catholic sense, is a magical family entertainment, manufactured with such genuine humanity and feeling and humor that it is equally fascinating for old and young. A gentle and immensely pleasing Arcadian idyll of an orphan girl on Prince Edward's Island, it is certainly the peer of last season's "Little Women" and an irresistible Christmas carnival as well. - NYT
In black and white.
Starring Anne Shirley, Tom Brown, O.P. Heggie, Helen Westley, Sara Haden.
Note: If anyone here knows when this version is set, please drop a note. It appears to be later than the Edwardian era, in which Lucy Maud Montgomery's novel was written, though the story seems to begin in the Victorian era.
Lucy Maud Montgomery's novel Anne of Green Gables, previously filmed in 1934, was afforded a TV-movie treatment in 1985. Megan Follows stars as 13-year-old Anne Shirley, an orphan girl sent to live with a foster family on Canada's Prince Edward Island. Though she has great difficulty controlling her temper, impulsiveness and vivid imagination, Anne eventually wins over her new guardians, domineering Marilla Cuthbert (Colleen Dewhurst) and Marilla's shy brother Matthew (Richard Farnsworth). Anne's secondary adventures concern her "bosom friend" Diana (Schuyler Grant) and her supposed enemy Gilbert Blythe (Jonathan Crombie). Anne of Green Gables was offered on American television as a 3-part presentation on PBS' Wonderworks, 1986.
Age 7+ "Faithful, sensitive take on classic novel is great for kids." - Common Sense Media
A startling beautiful film of style an substance. - San Francisco Chronicle
Starring Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst, Richard Farsnworth.
Note: Anne of Green Gables is followed by Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (Anne of Avonlea) which was well received and Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story, which was not. The BBC has their own 1975 version of Anne of Avonlea based on the books "Anne of Avonlea" and "Anne of the Island" and is a 6-episode, 5-hour 1975 BBC mini-series. The 1972 BBC adaptation of Anne of Green Gables doesn't appear to be available on DVD but does still air on BBC. You may also wish to check out Anne of Green Gables (1934), called "magical family entertainment, manufactured with such genuine humanity and feeling and humor that it is equally fascinating for old and young". - NYT
Parents need to know that this generally very faithful adaptation of L.M. Montgomery's beloved novel about red-headed orphan Anne Shirley has hardly any iffy content. Anne does accidentally get her best friend drunk in one scene, but it's due to an honest mix-up, and there are consequences. Other scenes include some mild peril and conflict, but overall this is a lovely, leisurely, kid-friendly story of another time. In fact, some younger kids may find it a little too leisurely, but if you spread the viewing out over several afternoons or evenings, they'll probably get sucked right in. If they do, they'll be delighted by Anne, whose imagination, impulsiveness, and thirst for love and friendship make her a very sympathetic, relatable character. - Common Sense Media
Inspired by a short story, Isabella Caldwell is a high-society woman in late-1800's New York. When Isabella's estranged daughter Mary becomes ill and is too proud to ask her mother for assistance, Mary's daughter, Tilly, takes it upon herself to contact her grandmother and plead for help. Isabella's arrival causes an upheaval in many lives, but may also lead to reconciliation within the family. Based on the short story by Louisa Mae Alcott, author of Little Women.
Dove awards the Dove “Family-Approved” Seal to this DVD, for all ages.
Starring Jacqueline Bisset, Helene Joy, Tatiana Maslany.
The Maclean brothers, Paul (Brad Pitt) and Norman (Craig Sheffer), live a relatively idyllic life in rural Montana, spending much of their time fly fishing. The sons of a minister (Tom Skerritt), the boys eventually part company when Norman moves east to attend college, leaving his rebellious brother to find trouble back home. When Norman finally returns, the siblings resume their fishing outings, and assess both where they've been and where they're going.
Set during a span of time from roughly World War I to the early days of the Great Depression, including part of the Prohibition era.
"Based on writer Norman Maclean's autobiographical story of growing up in Montana, this is a moving, powerful drama that combines gorgeous cinematography with earnest, heartfelt performances." - Common Sense Media
Starring Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt, Brenda Blethyn, Emily Lloyd.
Merchant Ivory Productions, led by director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant (Howards End), became a household name with A Room with a View, the first of their extraordinary adaptations of E. M. Forster novels. A cherubic nineteen-year-old Helena Bonham Carter plays Lucy Honeychurch, a young, independent-minded, upper-class Edwardian woman who is trying to sort out her burgeoning romantic feelings, divided between an enigmatic free spirit (Leaving Las Vegas’s Julian Sands) she meets on vacation in Florence and the priggish bookworm (Lincoln’s Daniel Day-Lewis) to whom she becomes engaged back in the more corseted Surrey. Funny, sexy, and sophisticated, this gargantuan art-house hit features a sublime supporting cast—including Simon Callow (Four Weddings and a Funeral), Judi Dench (Philomena), Denholm Elliott (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)—and remains a touchstone of intelligent romantic cinema.
This is incredibly fresh and arresting film-making: moving and amusing, swooningly romantic and socially ferocious – nothing less than a full-frontal (in every way) assault on your soul. - The Guardian
Note: The 1985 Oscar-winning Merchant Ivory production of A Room with a View is one of the best loved British films of the past few decades, and for good reasons: it is lovely to look at, the story makes us think and feel, it is brilliantly acted and an apt adaptation of the book.
May be suitable for older children.
Parents need to know that this movie deals with issues of intimacy and self-repression. There's nonsexualy male full-fruntal nudity as men bathe in a pond. A man is killed in a very brief knife fight. - Common Sense Media
A fresh and poignant adaptation of E.M. Forster's classic novel, A Room with a View tells the story of the coming of age of Lucy Honeychurch in 1912 Florence, Italy. Longing to burst free from the repression of British upper class manners and mores, she must wrestle with her inner romantic longings to choose between the passionate George and the priggish but socially suitable Cecil.
"[Elaine] Cassidy gives an exceptionally natural performance as Lucy, engaging in the age-old and very Jane Austin-ish internal battle between heart and head." - Brian Lowry, Variety
"As always with these English productions, the scenery is sumptuous, the settings lavish, the acting impeccable." - Robert P. Laurence, SanDiego.com
Starring Elizabeth McGovern, Timothy Spall, Sophie Thompson, Elaine Cassidy, Laurence Fox.
Shown on Masterpiece Theatre. An IWC / WGBH Boston Co-production.
Note: The screenplay for this adaptation was written by Andrew Davies ("Without spoiling the period feel, we wanted A Room with a View to feel modern in terms of the relationships and emotions.") It was not received fantastically well, on two accounts: 1) The Merchant Ivory 1986 film was just so splendid, and this version seems pale in comparison, and 2) based on a postscript Forster wrote in 1958, imagining what might have happened to the characters, Davies has written a new ending.
"But, despite the Davies-isms, conversely, his version is more true to EM Forster's novel and its themes and it brings out the class issue more." - The Guardian
May be suitable for older children.
Get ready for phenomenal fun, spectacular adventures, and nonstop action as hilarious megastar Jackie Chan (SHANGHAI NOON, SHANGHAI KNIGHTS) dares to do what no one has done before -- beat the clock in a race around the world. Traveling the globe by land, sea, air, and even in-line skates, Chan and his buddies are greeted with impossible obstacles at every planned and unplanned stop along the way, making their fantastically speedy voyage more frantic and heart-pounding than ever! Filled with amazing stunts, humor, and the importance of friendship and following your dreams, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS is one trip the whole family will enjoy taking together.
" ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ is a delightful surprise." -SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
"It’s an unexpected buoyant spectacular." -LOS ANGELES TIMES
"Tons of fun for everyone in the family." -SUMMER MOVIE MAGIC
"…beautifully photographed and sweetly comical ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ is guaranteed to amuse parents as well." - BOSTON HERALD
Starring Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Cecile de France.
There is a lot of slapstick, cartoon, and action-style violence, including many crotch injuries, but no one is seriously hurt. Characters use mild bad language ("bloody hell"). There is some crude and vulgar humor, including bathroom jokes, drunkenness played for comedy, a weird cross-dressing joke, and a comic situation involving a man with many wives. A strength of the movie is the portrayal of women and minorities who fight stereotypes and prejudice; however, some people may find some of the portrayals in the movie itself offensively stereotypical. - Common Sense Media
This intensely personal film from Louis Malle tells a heartbreaking story of friendship and devastating loss concerning two boys living in Nazi-occupied France. At a provincial Catholic boarding school, the precocious youths enjoy true camaraderie—until a secret is revealed. Based on events from writer-director Malle’s own childhood, Au revoir les enfants (Goodbye, Children) is a subtle, precisely observed tale of courage, cowardice, and tragic awakening.
In 1943, Julien (Gaspard Manesse) is a student at a French boarding school. When three new students arrive, including Jean Bonnett (Raphael Fejto), Julien believes they are no different from the other boys. What Julien doesn't know is that the boys are actually Jews who are evading capture by the Nazis. While Julien doesn't care for Jean at first, the boys develop a tight bond -- while the head of the school, Père Jean (Philippe Morier-Genoud), works to protect the boys from the Holocaust.
There is such exhilaration in the heedless energy of the schoolboys. They tumble up and down stairs, stand on stilts for playground wars, eagerly study naughty postcards, read novels at night by flashlight, and are even merry as they pour into the cellars during an air raid. One of the foundations of Louis Malle's "Au revoir les enfants" (1987) is how naturally he evokes the daily life of a French boarding school in 1944. His central story shows young life hurtling forward; he knows, because he was there, that some of these lives will be exterminated. - Roger Ebert
In French with English subtitles.
Starring Gaspard Manesse, Francine Racette, Philippe Morier-Genoud, Stanislas Carre de Malberg.
Rated PG - may be suitable for older children.
Ballet Shoes, the movie adaptation of Noel Streatfield's classic story, traces the travails of a refreshingly functional if hardly traditional English family. There's Sylvia, the financially strapped lady of the house; her three benevolent boarders; Nana, the housekeeper; and, most important, the three orphaned girls in Sylvia's charge. When the household pulls together to secure the penniless but loaded-with-potential girls (Paulina, Petrova, and Posy) a scholarship at a rigorous, no-wimps-allowed arts academy, the girls' natural proclivities fast emerge: Posy's a gifted dancer, Paulina's a precocious actress, and Petrova has a way with engines. All three share boundless ambition and, early on, vow "to get our names in the history books without the help of relatives." Close to two hours of triumphs, tough knocks, and tantrums follow; Petrova gets discouraged, Paulina gets too big for her britches, and Posy gets the rug pulled out from under her when her masterful teacher is hospitalized. Through it all, Sylvia, Nana, and the others unselfishly cheerlead, but then the girls' road to greatness comes dangerously close to unraveling. Sylvia, no longer able to afford school necessities, may need to sell the house. Naturally, she doesn't--just in time, a plum deal plops in the girls' laps. This tidy, overlong movie ought to be sewn up then, but instead, true to the tale, it tacks on a happy, hopeful ending for all. Ballet Shoes is best suited to starry-eyed 9-year-olds and parents who wish to keep their kids' pulses low. --Tammy La Gorce
This older version of the film was made in 1975 and in my opinion is a much truer tribute to Streatfeild's classic novel. While the style is old-fashioned with long explanatory dialogues not really seen in movies nowadays, the parts are all portrayed with honesty and innocence. I especially enjoyed the performance of Mary Morris as Madame Fidolia, the classical Russian ballet teacher that features in all ballet stories of the era, played just as I feel Streatfield would have intended. - Viewer
In 1977 Ballet Shoes was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Special.
Starring Angela Thorne, Jane Slaughter, Elizabeth Morgan, Sarah Prince, Barbara Lott.
Dreams do come true…Emma Watson (Hermione from Harry Potter) stars in Ballet Shoes, a heartwarming and uplifting film based on the beloved, best-selling novel by Noel Streatfeild and featuring an award-winning cast that includes Emilia Fox, Victoria Wood, Richard Griffiths and Eileen Atkins.
"We three Fossils vow to put our name in the history book, because it is ours, and ours alone…" With these words, three orphans, raised as sisters, leave their sheltered lives and embark on an exhilarating journey that takes them to the heights of the stage, screen and sky!
Based on the Noel Streatfeild novel Ballet Shoes, this is a 2007 BBC Northern Ireland production starring Eileen Atkins, Peter Bowles, Richard Griffiths, Gemma Jones, and Harriet Walter. The Fossils are an unconventional British family living in 1930's London. Orphans Pauline (Emma Watson), Petrova (Yasmin Paige), and Posy (Lucy Boynton) are being raised by an elder sister Sylvia (Emilia Fox) and her Nana (Victoria Wood) in the absence of their eccentric great uncle Matthew (Richard Griffiths). As Sylvia struggles to educate and support her three charges on very limited funds, she is forced to let rooms and enroll the girls in the Academy of Dance and Stage Training in hopes of furthering their education and preparing them to earn a comfortable living. While at the academy, each of the three ambitious girls discovers her own personal calling and labors intensively to achieve her dreams: Pauline studies to become a star on the stage, Petrova gravitates toward a career in aviation, and Posy trains to become a great classical ballerina. Their paths are difficult and full of adversity, but the sisters' steadfast support of one another and common resolve to earn a place in the history books based on their own merits propels each of them toward individual success. A compelling and inspirational film that encourages young women to strive for their dreams, Ballet Shoes is most appealing to ages 9 and older. --Tami Horiuchi
Starring Emma Watson, Eileen Atkins, Peter Bowles, Richard Griffiths, Gemma Jones.
Parents need to know that for children interested in the performing arts, this family-friendly movie and its emphasis on a rigid training regimen as a road to sure success will be appealing. A loving family comprising three girls adopted from around the world and their guardian and nanny is depicted, working together to overcome tough economic times in Britain in the 1930s. One child runs away but returns without harm. Expect plenty of era-appropriate smoking as well. - Common Sense Media
Anne Hathaway (Love and Other Drugs) gives a radiant performance as a young, love-struck Jane Austen in the witty and engaging romantic comedy Becoming Jane. It s the untold romance that inspired the novels of one of the world's most celebrated authors. When the dashing Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy, Atonement), a reckless and penniless lawyer-to-be, enters Jane's life, he offends the emerging writer's sense and sensibility. Soon their clashing egos set off sparks that ignite a passionate romance and fuel Jane's dream of doing the unthinkable--marrying for love. Becoming Jane, also starring the acclaimed Maggie Smith, James Cromwell and Julie Walters, is an enchanting and imaginative film you'll fall head over heels for.
Starring Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, James Cromwell, Julia Walters, Maggie Smith.
Parents need to know that this film is a delightful exercise in imagination. No one truly knows whether Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy shared a grand passion, but the movie makes a great case for it. It's a romantic, often funny tale that tweens and teens will enjoy, though there are parts that could prove dicey for younger audiences, including a sexual interlude between Jane's parents and a brazen flirtation between an older woman and a younger man. (The banter may also go a little too fast for them to understand.) The language is sometimes complicated for younger audiences ("impecunious"), but it's fairly innocuous, except for one expletive ("s--t"). - Common Sense Media
Experience the extraordinary animation, enchanting music and Academy Award-winning special effects (1971: Best Effects, Special Visual Effects) of Disney's beloved classic BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS -- now fully restored and remastered in this Enchanted Musical Edition with dazzling new bonus features! Hold on tight for a magical, musical, fun-filled journey! When young Charlie, Carrie and Paul move to a small village during World War II, they discover their host, Miss Price (Angela Lansbury), is an apprentice witch! Although her early attempts at magic create hilarious results, she successfully casts a traveling spell on an ordinary bedknob, and they fly to the fantastic, animated Isle of Naboombu to find a powerful spell that will save England! All-new fun is brewing in this Enchanted Musical Edition, including "The Wizards of Special Effects" feature. Also starring David Tomlinson (MARY POPPINS) and Roddy McDowall, BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS is a heartwarming adventure your family will love sharing again and again!
Starring Angela Lansbury, Roddy McDowall, Reginald Owen, David Tomlinson, Sam Jaffe.
Parents need to know that the framework of the movie -- World War II, Nazi invasions, and bombings in London -- is about as un-child-friendly as it gets, but the film manages to take a lighthearted approach. Main characters never seem frightened by the war or soldiers, though the children talk briefly about losing their parents to the war. The climax of the film involves a drawn-out battle between the main character and a small group of invading Nazis in which the enemy soldiers wield swords and machine guns against her. Despite this apparent violence, no blood is shed, no one is hurt, and the main character retains a smile throughout the entire battle. - Common Sense Media
Belle is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Captain. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing.
Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar's son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield's role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.
Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson.
Parents need to know that Belle is a deeply affecting, fascinating drama that brings to light a true story about a mixed-race woman -- the illegitimate daughter of a British admiral in the late 1700s -- who becomes an activist (and a worthy role model!) by educating herself and her uncle on the perils of the slave trade. Though the movie has no curse words and no overtly sexual situations (there's one kiss), the subject matter is complex and perhaps too heavy for very young kids. But older kids, tweens, and teens would do well to see it, as it explores issues of race and gender equality with sensitivity and grace. There's much to learn here from the struggles of 18th-century England, with lessons still applicable today. - Common Sense Media
Based on the beloved children’s book, this exciting tale set in the picturesque French Alps follows the friendship of a 6-year-old boy and a stray dog who prove to be heroes when they help defend their occupied village from the Nazis.
Set in the Second World War era.
In French with English subtitles. The film is dubbed in English in the streaming version.
“BELLE AND SEBASTIAN is a beautiful, heartfelt drama that will be as appealing to adults as to kids. It’s visually stunning, and the acting, especially by young Bossuet, is superb. Although the themes are intense and there are quite a few tense, suspenseful scenes, the story never delves too deeply into WWII details that would be inappropriate for children. As war stories go, it’s a somewhat gentle introduction to heavy themes, which can open a dialogue for parents and tweens. But there are many heartrending scenes that may be too intense for younger or more sensitive kids. Parents looking for a positive, historical film with wonderful role models (heroes, really) will love Belle and Sebastian. And parents can enjoy it without feeling like they’re watching a children’s film, though you may want to watch the original, subtitled version if you’re watching alone or with older kids, as the English dubbing is sometimes a bit awkward.” – Common Sense Media
Starring Félix Bossuet, Tchéky Karyo, Margaux Chatelier, Dimitri Storoge, Andreas Pietschmann, Urbain Cancelier, Mehdi El Glaoui, Paloma Palma, Karine Adrover, Loïc Varraut, Jan Oliver Schroeder, Tom Sommerlatte, Andrée Damant, Pasquale D’Inca, Eric Soubelet, Michel Pellé, Jean Blanc, Matthieu Warter, Jean-Hubert Vasina, Pascal Bison.
A classic coming-of-age tale on par with Anne of Avonlea and Little Women, Berkeley Square is worth watching over and over again. This 10-episode British miniseries will awe you with its erudite script, wonderfully believable characters, high-caliber production values, meticulous Edwardian details, and topnotch acting. In fact, you will join the growing multitudes who puzzle over why the BBC decided to stop after only 10 episodes.
In 1902 three young nannies find jobs in well-to-do London households and get to know each other. Naive farm girl Lydia finds an unfamiliar world both in city life and with the progressive-thinking family who employs her. Earnest, rule-abiding Matty is a hard-working East End girl who slowly learns to loosen up. And, after a tragic affair with the eldest son of a grand Yorkshire family, Hannah's life in London is full of chilling secrets and grave life-and-death decisions. -Tara Chace
Starring Victoria Smurfit, Clare Wilkie, Tabitha Wady, Hermione Norris, Emily Canfor-Dumas.
Note: For Willow and Thatch, discovering and watching this series felt like a splendid, long Christmas. Two teacups up! "A warm-hearted family drama."
May be suitable for older children.
From Academy Award® winning writer/director Jane Campion (Best Original Screenplay, The Piano, 1993) comes an extraordinary film based on the true story of undying love between renowned poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw, The International) and his spirited muse Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish, Stop-Loss). In the wilds of 19th century England, a forbidden passion draws the two lovers ever closer—even as fate conspires to tear them apart. Bright Star takes you to a world where, though life may be fleeting, great art – and great love – last forever. Let this sparkling gem of romance illuminate your heart.
Bright Star is the rare period movie to convey--without being insistent--what it was like to be alive in another era, the nature of houses and rooms and how people occupied them, the way windows linked spaces and enlarged people's lives and experiences, how fires warmed as the milky English sunlight did not. And always there is an aliveness to place and weather, the creak of boardwalk underfoot and the wind rustling the reeds as lovers walk through a wetland. Poetry grows from such things; at least, Jane Campion's does. --Richard T. Jameson
Starring Abbie Cornish, Edie Martin, Claudie Blakley, Gerard Monaco, Samuel Roukin.
Parents need to know that this moving period romance is tame on the surface -- there's virtually no violence, sex, strong language or other iffy content -- but it has an undercurrent of sexual longing fueled by social barriers that complicate the characters' ability to be with the people they love. And though the story is told with a great deal of grace, it does have a bit of grit (but virtually no violence, sex, strong language, or other iffy content). First, there's the consumption that finally claims poet John Keats -- its progression is delicately but truthfully depicted. Also, Keats' best friend is dismissive of those with no interest in poetry (i.e., Fanny, who's passionate about sewing instead), and there's some discussion about Fanny's virginity, but the conversations are oblique (and nothing more than kissing and hand-holding is shown on screen). - Common Sense Media
Jodie Foster stars in British musical gangster movie with only kid actors. Set in New York, the film is loosely based on events from the early 1920s to 1931 during Prohibition, specifically the exploits of real-life gangsters like Al Capone and Bugs Moran, as dramatized in cinema. Parker lightened the subject matter considerably for the children's market. Instead of real bullets they use "splurge guns" that cover the victim in cream.
As a spoof of serious mobster movies like The Godfather, Bugsy Malone is a delight, with some excellent performances by child actors. Sure, the plot is silly, but it's meant to be. After all, what could be less scary and threatening than a gun that shoots what looks like spit balls? And it's fun to watch the whole cast degenerate into the equivalent of a food fight at the end. These are just kids, the film makes clear.
This is a very cute and enjoyable movie, quite possibly the only one in a very small sub-genre in the genre of gangster films-a musical gangster movie cast entirely with children. The cast is notable principally by the presence of Jodie Foster (as a side note, this was released the same year as was Taxi Driver!) and Scott Baio, the musical score was done by Paul Wiliams (who was nominated for an Oscar for his efforts here) and the costumes are quite nice. - Robert Reynolds
Starring Scott Baio, Jodie Foster.
Note: "Where the film seems less clear about the age of its stars is in its treatment of the tween girls in the film. Girls who have yet to develop any curves say they're "watching their weight," chorus girls perform slightly sexy dance moves, and Tallulah sings to the men that they "don't have to be lonely." Yikes. Kids watching it may not be aware of what that means, but parents may want to talk to their young children about it." - Common Sense Media
Rated G. Common Sense Media recommends it for kids 8 and up.
This epic film, directed by legendary Canadian filmmaker Allan King, tells the story of young Lukas Bienman, an indentured servant in 19th century Prussia. Lukas witnesses a murder by the ruthless Count who frames Lukas’ father for the crime. After helping his father escape, Lukas flees with the Count’s sister and her beautiful daughter Ursula to Canada, the home of his estranged grandfather. Set in 1865.
A classical adventure story in the genre of David Copperfield and Kidnapped, By Way of the Stars begins in the 19th century Prussia where youn Lukas (Zachary Bennett) is thrown into turmoil when his mother (Anja Kruse) dies in childbirth, and his grandfather (Dietmar Schonherr) returns to Canada in anger, blaming Lukas's father (Christian Kohlund) for the mother's death.
Lukas's problems escalate when he witnesses a murder by the nobleman count Otto von Lebrecht (Hannes Jaenicke); at the same time his father, Karl, is unjustly accused of a crime and imprisoned. His life shattered, Lukas is indentured as a servant in the castle of the Baron von Knabig (Gunther Maria Halmer), where he encounters Ursula (Gema Zamprogna), the haughty little Baroness; her kind and generous mother (Dominique Sanda); and her evil Uncle Otto, the man responsible for his father's imprisonment. Lukas orchestrates his father's prison escape with the help of Nathan the Peddler (Jane Rubes), but circumstances prevent them from feeling together. Events sweep our characters on a disastrous voyage across the ocean to the New World, where Lukas and Ursula survive an outbreak of smallpox; escape a kidnapping attempt by a pair of con artists; and elude Otto by bracing treacherous river rapids, only to find themselves lost in the Canadian wilderness.
Against the backdrop of post-Civil War, we inter-cut the father's adventures in America. His desire to reunite with his son leads Karl to help a young black boy flee north to Canada. The tragic end to this venture brings Karl to his father-in-law, willing to do anything the grandfather asks as long as Lukas is brought to the New World.
Starring Zachary Bennett, Tantoo Cardinal, Hannes Jaenicke, Christian Kohlund, Michael Mahonen.
Note: Shares many actors from Road to Avonlea.
A black Canadian, James Mink, finds the perfect match for his daughter while doing business with a white American. After the wedding the pair heads to America, leaving James happy knowing Mary is content and secure. Every day, James and his wife Elizabeth wait to hear from Mary, but when they finally do, it is not at all what they expect. Mary has been sold into the slave trade and it is up to them to aid her escape.
Loosely tells the story of James Mink, a black man who became a respected millionaire businessman in Toronto, Canada in the 1840s when slavery was rampant in the United States. James Mink offered a substantial dowry for his daughter's hand. He and his wife, a white Irish immigrant, believed in the races "blending together as naturally as two tributaries forming into one river." William Johnson married their daughter. Johnson took the dowry and Minnie on a honeymoon to the United States, where he then sold her into slavery to a Virginian tobacco plantation owner.
Starring Louis Gossett Jr., Kate Nelligan, Ruby Dee, Peter Outerbridge, Michael Jai White.
May be suitable for older children - contains some violent scenes.
At the start of World War II, 14-year-old Carrie and her younger brother Nick are separated from their mother and evacuated from war-torn London to a rural village in Wales. Upon their arrival, they are assigned to live with a troubled family°Xthe puritanical shopkeeper Mr. Evans, a widower, and his spinster sister, a timid woman named Lou. While Lou is thrilled to lavish attention on the children, Mr. Evans remains cold and distant. But Carrie and Nick°s fortunes take a turn for the better when they°re sent to fetch a Christmas goose from mysterious Druid°s Bottom°X a manor house occupied by a self-professed witch named Hepzibah and Mr. Evans°s ethereal, estranged sister, Mrs. Gotobed. Filled with magical adventures and first love, this heartfelt and faithful adaptation of Nina Bawden's beloved novel stars Alun Armstrong (Bleak House), Lesley Sharp (The Full Monty), Pauline Quirke (David Copperfield), Geraldine McEwan (Miss Marple), and Keeley Fawcett (At Home with the Braithwaites) as Carrie.
Starring Keeley Fawcett, Jack Stanley (III), Karen Meagher, Eddie Cooper, David Prince.
Shown on PBS Masterpiece Theatre.
There was also a 1974 version of Carrie's War.
May be suitable for older children.
In the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the early 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924 Paris Olympics.
In this Academy Award winner for Best Picture, two very different men on the same team vie to win Olympic gold to demonstrate to the world the worth of their deeply held--and strongly opposing--convictions. Yet a friendship builds between the two in this true story that is as strong as their desire to win in Chariots of Fire. Paris Olympics, 1924. Scotsman Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson--Gandhi) competes to prove the superiority of this Christian faith, while his teammate, Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross--Exorcist: The Beginning), a Jewish Englishman, is driven to win to show the world that Jews are not inferior people. But as different as they two competitors are, the bond that develops between them reveals to both how complex their true motives are . . . and how much they really have in common.
"Like many great films, “Chariots of Fire” takes its nominal subjects as occasions for much larger statements about human nature. “Chariots of Fire” is one of the best films of recent years, a memory of a time when men still believed you could win a race if only you wanted to badly enough." - Roger Ebert
Starring Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers, Ian Charleson, Ben Cross, Daniel Gerroll.
A young girl and her mother arrive into a small town and set of a sequence of events that change the town forever. Based on a short story by Truman Capote.
Fans of film adaptations of Truman Capote's original fiction will delight in the familiar terrain of Southern nostalgia and wide-eyed yearning that defines Children on Their Birthdays. Based on a Capote story, this 2002 feature stars Joe Pichler as Billy Bob, a boy whose post-World War II horizons broaden considerably with the arrival of Lilly Jane (Tania Raymonde), a glistening idealist and would-be Hollywood starlet, in his Medda, Alabama, neighborhood. So exotic, erudite, and almost recklessly expansive is Lilly Jane that she lights a fire of progressive thought (or perhaps truer courtesy) in the habitually racist community, inspiring Billy Bob to outgrow his narrow boyhood. Typical of Capote, there is something of the Dying Swan about Lilly Jane, but her Mystery is genuine and affecting. --Tom Keogh
Touching, moving, sweet, elevating…four adjectives I have never used together to describe a single film since I began reviewing movies thirteen years ago. “Children on Their Birthdays,” based on a short story by Truman Capote, is a rare gem that deserves all four. This Capra-esque film portrays common folks in small town, post-war USA who prove themselves capable of uncommon excellence, when challenged by the powerful opposing forces of unconditional love and abject greed. Douglas Sloan’s screenplay skillfully explores all types of interpersonal relationships between adolescents and adults, ranging from sexual, to social, to racial. Under the capable direction of Mark Medoff, the story is executed in a clever and compelling way that makes its point without offending viewers. Faith and values are the key messages that emanate from “Children on Their Birthdays. - Dove
Starring Sheryl Lee, Christopher McDonald, Tom Arnold, Joe Pichler, Tania Raymonde.
Note: In the review from Dove, above, I think the word romantic would have been a better choice (not sexual), as there is nothing remotely sexual in the film, just tender coming-of-age feelings.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls start your engines. You're about to take an incredible ride with one of the most wonderful family films of all time! Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has never looked or sounded better. Dick Van Dyke stars as eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts, who creates an extraordinary car called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It not only drives but also flies and floats as it leads him, his two children and his beautiful lady friend, Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), into a magical world of pirates, castles and endless adventure. Set in the 1910s.
Solid family fare that retains a quaint charm while some of the songs--including the title tune--are quite hummable. A huge plus is Dick Van Dyke, who is extremely appealing as an eccentric inventor around the turn of the century. With nimble fingers and a unique way of looking at the world, he invents for his children a magic car that floats and flies. Or does he? The special effects are tame by today's standards, and the film is about 20 minutes too long--but its enthusiasm charms. The script was cowritten by Roald Dahl and based on the novel by Ian Fleming, best known for his James Bond adventures. --Rochelle O'Gorman
Starring Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Lionel Jeffries, Benny Hill, Gert Fröbe.
Parents need to know that while there are scenes in this film in which the Potts family members and others are in jeopardy, they are fantasy sequences filled with comic pratfalls, exaggerated action (Grandpa, in his outhouse-like hideaway carried away by a zeppelin; a baroness shot into the sky and retrieved by canon shots letting the air out of her billowing skirt), and arch clown-like villains with twirling mustaches, and one even wielding a hook. Only the very youngest or most apprehensive children may find the images scary; other kids will understand the intent and likely find it funny. There is an entire kingdom made up of buffoonish Germanic stereotypes who are more bumbling than menacing. - Common Sense Media
Based on the bestseller by Catherine Marshall, Christy tells the story of an idealistic nineteen year old (Kellie Martin) who leaves the comforts of her city home to teach school in the impoverished Appalachian community of Cutter Gap, Tennessee in 1912. Strength, determination, and faith guide young Christy Huddleston through unforeseen difficulties, help her to gain understanding of the proud mountain people, and win her mentorship, friendship, and the love of two men.
Determination, faith, and optimism are powerful forces that enable individuals to positively affect the lives of themselves and others. Christy, a captivating 1994 television series based on the book by Catherine Marshall and reminiscent of the Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie series, is the story of an idealistic 19-year-old woman named Christy Huddleston (Kellie Martin) who sets out for the wilderness of the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee in 1912 on a mission to educate the children of the remote community of Cutter Gap.
A well-to-do girl raised in the city, Christy is shocked and completely unprepared for the extreme poverty, ignorance, and superstitious tendencies of Cutter Gap's people, but resolves to persevere in her commitment to better the lives of her young students. Each day brings a fresh lesson for the children and a new struggle that inspires Christy to draw upon and re-examine her own faith while striving to disprove local superstitions and replace long-held animosities and prejudices with virtues like forgiveness and respect. Christy is surrounded by a handful of allies in Cutter Gap that include fellow missionary Miss Alice Henderson (Tyne Daly), whom she idolizes for her strength, resolve, and mentorship; Fairlight Spencer (Tess Harper), a local woman who offers Christy the rare gift of friendship; mission preacher Reverend David Grantland (Randall Batinkoff), a hard worker who immediately becomes smitten with Christy; and local Doctor Neil MacNeill (Stewart Finlay-McLennan) whose gruff manner and atheistic beliefs both confuse and excite Christy. Eventually, Christy finds she's fallen in love with both Reverend Grantland and Doctor MacNeill and embarks on a very personal journey toward maturity while simultaneously succeeding in her quest to educate the children of Cutter Gap and affect significant positive change throughout the entire community. (Ages 9 and older) --Tami Horiuchi
Starring Tyne Daly, Randall Batinkoff, Kellie Martin, Tess Harper, Stewart Finlay-McLennan.
Dove Family Approved for ages 12 and older.
Cate Blanchett stars in this new live-action vision of the Cinderella tale from director Kenneth Branagh and the screenwriting team of Chris Weitz and Aline Brosh McKenna for Disney Pictures.
After her father unexpectedly dies, young Ella (Lily James) finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and stepsisters, who reduce her to scullery maid. Despite her circumstances, she refuses to despair. An invitation to a palace ball gives Ella hope that she might reunite with the dashing stranger (Richard Madden) she met in the woods, but her stepmother prevents her from going. Help arrives in the form of a kindly beggar woman who has a magic touch for ordinary things. The American romantic fantasy film is a refreshing take on a classic tale.
With an excellent cast and an elegant sense of style, it makes for a magical and quite charming version of the story that all ages can enjoy. - Examiner.com
In the title role, Lily James is a revelation: sweet without being sugary, simple without being simple-minded and beaming with what must be the most radiant smile in movie history. - Sacramento News & Review
Starring Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Nonso Anozie.
Note: Three-time Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell said she was aiming for the look of "a nineteenth-century period film made in the 1940s or 1950s." According to Ly Velez of Moviepilot, "In the past, Powell's creations, such as those seen in Gangs of New York, The Aviator, and The Young Victoria, normally carried a heavy emphasis on historical accuracy. However, her work on Cinderella, although minimally influenced by nineteenth century wardrobe, allowed her to explore a more fantastical side of her creativity."
Rachel Taylor lost her Union soldier husband in the Civil War. As the battles rage on she discovers a wounded Confederate soldier, Daniel, in her barn. A battle begins in her heart as she does the Christian thing and nurses him back to health while trying to reconcile this man with the image she had of the southerners who took her husband from her. Daniel is being hunted by a rogue marshal and must stay hidden. Rachel’s brother-in-law, Sheriff Jonathan Taylor, has always had feelings for her. He wants to marry her and take care of her family, but Rachel is resistant to his proposal. When her heart begins to soften toward Daniel, Jonathan doesn’t take too kindly to it. With trouble coming from all sides, Rachel must find the strength to do what’s right, protect her family and find the courage to open her heart again to love.
Starring Elise Groves, DeMoyne Hunt, Eliza Smith, Ethan Hunt.
Dove Family Approved for ages 12 and over.
Audrey Tautou (The Da Vinci Code, Amélie) shines in this intriguing portrait of the early life of Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, the orphan who would build a fashion empire and be known universally by her nickname, Coco. She journeys from a mundane seamstress job to boisterous cabarets to the opulent French countryside, possessing little more than her unwavering determination, unique style and visionary talent. Also starring Benoît Poelvoorde (In His Hands) and Alessandro Nivola (Junebug). Featuring lush settings and stunning costume design, Coco Before Chanel is the gripping and dramatic story of an icon who defied convention and defined the modern woman.
Starring Audrey Tautou, Benoît Poelvoorde, Alessandro Nivola.
Note: This "handsomely dressed and tastefully furnished drama" (The Guardian) seeks only to tell the story of Coco's life until around the end of the First World War, showing her in her mid-20s. But by Willow and Thatch's calculations, by the end of 1918 Chanel was actually about 35 years old. (Chanel claimed that her real date of birth was 1893, making her ten years younger, so perhaps for this reason the film portrayed her this way.) Coco Chanel was born Gabrielle Chanel in 1883 in a charity poorhouse, and when, her mother died, Chanel was soon was placed in the orphanage, where she spent six years. This is where the film opens, in a Catholic orphanage in the late 1800s in the Victorian era, where she learned the trade of a seamstress — and then the film jumps ahead to the Edwardian era to find Chanel working as a seamstress by day and a cabaret singer by night.
May be suitable for older children.
Parents need to know that this historical biopic depicting Coco Chanel’s life before she hit it big as a fashion designer examines her somewhat scandalous love-life, in which she is kept by one man but is in love with another, both aware of the other. Her benefactor often treats her like chattel. Though she asserts her independence, she puts up with his disrespect, too. Nevertheless, Coco come across as an incredibly strong woman, a pioneer in many ways. There’s a good bit of drinking and smoking, and some subtle love scenes. The movie is in French, with English subtitles. - Common Sense Media
In the bitter chill of winter, over snow-covered mountains and against all odds, one fearless young girl will risk everything to guide her friends to safety. Fifteen-year-old Heidi (Caton) leaves her beloved grandfather (Jan Rubes), her childhood sweetheart (Sheen) and her cherished Swiss mountains to attend an Italian boarding school run by a kind headmistress (Caron). But when World War I breaks out, Heidi and her classmates are torn from their serene surroundings. Fearing for their lives, they escape on foot through the countryside...and embark on a daring trek across the treacherous, frozen Alps towards the safety of Heidi's girlhood home. Set in 1915.
Starring Juliette Caton, Charlie Sheen, Joanna Clarke, Nicola Stapleton, Jade Magri.
Parents need to know that this video portrays abused children, sweatshop labor, and wartime fighting. But it also presents heroine Heidi as a strong female role model: She's brave, good-hearted, and shows leadership to untangle a group of girls from several perilous situations. Girls especially will empathize with Heidi who, at that age between child and young woman, experiences love and loss and sets a brave example for her schoolmates. - Common Sense Media
Inspired by a true story, 'The Courage to Love' tells the story of a black woman who is part of a mixed-race affluent society in pre-civil war New Orleans. In 19th century New Orleans creole Henriette must choose between love and devotion to the church. Neither choice is going to be easy, as there is great opposition to her ideas of breaking traditions.
Starring Diahann Carroll, Vanessa Williams, Gil Bellows, Christopher Williams, Vanessa L. Williams.
Note: Based on the life of Henriette Delille (1813-1862), a daughter of one of the oldest families of free people of color in New Orleans, founded the Sisters of the Holy Family, the second oldest Catholic religious order for women of color. At an early age, she rejected what would likely have been a privileged life and chose to dedicate herself to the care of the free black and slave communities. In 1836, along with several other women, she established the Sisters of the Presentation, which later became the Sisters of the Holy Family. The Sisters worked among the poor, the sick, the elderly and also among slaves. The order founded a school for girls in 1850 and in 1860 opened a hospital for needy black Orleanians. Today, the Sisters of the Holy Family continue to contribute to the education of African American youths and to the care of the sick and elderly through their work in New Orleans and elsewhere. May be suitable for older children (PG-13).
Cranford: Welcome to Cranford, circa 1840...a rural English town where etiquette rules, undergirded by a healthy amount of gossip. Modernity is making a move in town as construction of a railway comes harrowingly close. Cranford's eclectic residents, among them Matty Jenkyns (Dame Judi Dench) her sister Deborah (Dame Eileen Atkins), and Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton), stay immersed in the sweet pleasures and sometimes heartbreaking realities of simple village life. But when a handsome, young doctor arrives with cutting-edge new techniques, it rapidly becomes clear that as the world changes, so Cranford will change with it. Based on three Elizabeth Gaskell novels (Cranford, My Lady Ludlow and Mr. Harrison's Confessions), and boasting an all-star cast, Cranford breathes life into one town during one extraordinary year.
Return to Cranford: Change is racing towards the small, close-knit village of Cranford like a steam train — quite literally. As the railroad continues to encroach at the edge of town, Cranford strives to open to new realities, from surprising romances to unexpected losses and even waltzing! Matty Jenkyns (Judi Dench), Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton), Mrs. Forrester (Julia McKenzie) and Mrs. Jamieson (Barbara Flynn) are back with other distinguished residents of Cranford, along with one well-outfitted and mischievous cow. When a shocking event seemingly derails Cranford from its innocence, can a bit of magic and faith in enduring friendships save the day? Based on the stories of Victorian-era writer Elizabeth Gaskell, Return to Cranford also features Tom Hiddleston (Wallander) and Tim Curry.
Shown on PBS Masterpiece Theatre.
Released in the UK as The Prince and the Pauper , this star-studded twist on Mark Twain's classic social satire is a great flick for the whole family. When a commoner bumps into the Prince (and future King) of Wales and they decide to make a switch of clothes as a practical joke, they are unexpectedly separated and forced to take on the other's life. Set in In 16th Century London, England and based on "The Prince and the Pauper," Mark Twain's novel about adventure and intrigue in the court of Henry VIII.
Starring Raquel Welch, Oliver Reed, Harry Andrews, Ernest Borgnine, Sydney Bromley, Peter Cellier, Felicity Dean.
Note: There is also a The Prince and the Pauper (1937) starring Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Henry Stephenson, a Disney live-action version of The Prince and the Pauper (1962) starring Guy Williams, Laurence Naismith, The Prince and the Pauper (BBC TV mini-series 1996) six-part miniseries version starring Peter Jeffrey, James Purefoy, Sophia Myles, Keith Michell, Philip Sarson, and a The Prince and the Pauper (2000) family television movie starring Aidan Quinn, Alan Bates, Jonathan Hyde.