Thursday, March 26, 2009

Entry: British Film Institute list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14

...made me feel like an uncultured hayseed.

The BFI composed this list in an attempt to convince parents and educators that film can be a legitimate art form, and that children should be exposed to great films the same way they are to visual art and literature; I can only assume that means "until the school has budgeting issues or one parent thinks their child might be exposed to something potentially offensive."

I like to think that I have good taste in movies, and I have seen a whole bunch in my day, but according to the BFI, I have been woefully underexposed. Here are their top ten films that kids should see by age 14, in order:

1. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
2. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
3. Kes (1969)
4. Les Quatre Cents Coups (1959)
5. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
6. Show Me Love (1998)
7. Spirited Away (2001)
8. Toy Story (1995)
9. Where is My Friend's House? (1987)
10. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Out of these films, I have seen E.T. (although I was so young when I saw it, I don't remember it-- is there a part where E.T. gets rabies? Because I've been laboring under that impression), Spirited Away (which came out after I turned 14, but is one of my favorites), Toy Story, and The Wizard of Oz. The Night of the Hunter and Show Me Love are on my Netflix queue. I had never before heard of Kes or Where Is my Friend's House?, and now I'm convinced that there are British tweens out there mocking me for it.

Now, I agree that exposing children to classic movies and teaching them to view them as art is a good idea, but I'm not sure I'd want my kids to see some of these films if they were under 14. I haven't seen Les Quatre Cens Coups, but maybe you should let your kids hit puberty before exposing them to French New Wave. And to be honest, I'm a little surprised that Show Me Love is listed, considering it's about two teenage girls that fall in love; I guess Brits are a lot more queer-friendly than Americans.

The rest of the list is also in the article, and there's a lot of fantastic movies listed... but I can't speak for the whole thing, because as it turns out, I've seen less than half of them. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some very important reality shows to watch.

4 comments:

andrewhime said...

hm, Show Me Love's original native title is "Fucking Amal". Not sure it's quite age appropriate.

Regina said...

Yeah, I had originally heard about it under that title, which was changed for American audiences. I'm assuming it's under the same name in the UK?

I haven't seen the movie, but it seems like the kind of thing to see after you turn 14, when you can relate to the characters being all awkward about falling in love.

Emma Leigh said...

Don't worry - the British tweens are not mocking you. Honestly, the education system there is really struggling: there is this vast misconception that every school in England is like in "The History Boys", but in reality very few people have access to that kind of elite education, and the working-class towns are having a huge problem with education. Children who come from families who have been unemployed for decades have no reason to be interested in school.

Anyway, the point is, although they tend to seem more intellectual and progressive in England, remember that our impression is of the upper-class, which is a minority. I'm sure the BFI would love to have the pregnant 16-year-old Essex girl watch all these films in an effort to improve her quality of life, but I assure you she doesn't give two fucks. And even the privileged and educated people I met in Bristol are just normal people like you and me and weren't necessarily any more cultured than their American friend. British mass media is just as insubstantial and addictive as our own TV and magazines, if not more so in some respects.

Regina said...

Thank you for the perspective, Emma. ^_^ Well... someone somewhere is laughing at me... maybe just not British tweens.