Chariots of Fire
A spiritually uplifting character study of two very different young Englishmen who achieve glory in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. While their competitive drive and abilities are comparable, each derives his strength and inspiration from different sources. One is a Jew determined to beat the anti-Semitic establishment at its own game, and the other is a devout Scot who derives great joy using his gifts for the glory of God. This Best Picture Oscar Winner is a richly entertaining and highly inspiring sports drama for the whole family. (Rated PG – adults and children)
The Bicycle Thief
This simple yet compelling study in desperation of a worker who must find his stolen bicycle or lose his job is an engrossing story of the grim realities of life on the edge of poverty in post-war Rome. In many ways it prefigures the best qualities of today’s independent films by featuring non-professional actors in starkly realistic settings, bringing an emotional honesty to an already gripping everyman story. The climax has the man searching in vain and then, in desperation, trying to steal someone else’s bicycle. The result of this decision, witnessed by the man’s young son, is unforgettable. (un-rated – adults and children)
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ sensitive, post-Civil War tale of a boy attached to an orphaned fawn is a great coming-of-age story for the whole family. The attachment brings joy and then grief as the deer grows to threaten the family’s crops, leading to difficult decisions for the youngster and his parents. With strong performances by Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman, this genuine portrait of rural American life is a sincere celebration of family values. (Rated G -children)
This animated feature classic by the real Walt Disney beautifully conveys the simplicity, charm and excitement of Felix Salten’s novel. The story imparts loving life lessons as it takes us through a year in the life of a young deer and his animal friends. Its opening forest scene on the occasion of Bambi’s birth is the epitome of cinematic excellence. The forest fire scene and the death of Bambi’s mother are highly intense, though not beyond the emotional capacity of most young viewers. (Rated G – children)
Here are some suggestions to help you reduce the amount of time you spend wandering the aisles of your local video store. Following are five films – some for children, some for adults – that are well worth your time and attention. I believe these are among the very best films ever made in terms of artistic integrity, entertainment quality and moral acceptability.
Starkly realistic and lushly photographed historical epic about the Spanish Jesuits’ missionary efforts in South America against both Portuguese aggressors and murderous native witch doctors determined to drive the “black robes” away. The film focuses not on the religious but on the sociopolitical dimension of the colonial era, but the contrast of the non-violent priest (Jeremy Irons) and the missionary (Robert De Niro) who leads the Indians against a colonial army is positively riveting. (Rated PG – adults)