The Disney films you must watch with your children

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Recently many of the old Disney films have come under fire for old-world morals that don’t apply to modern society. A number of online commentators have condemned these movies and heavily implied that there is nothing Disney can teach the kids of today, but we disagree.

While sure, there are some movies that remain problematic the Disney canon is simply loaded with films that teach valuable lessons, and which parents should make a point of watching with their children. These are just three of them:

The Lion King

Credit: Youtube

Watching the Lion King with your child is a marvellous experience. It’s so easy for them to get wrapped up in the grandeur of it, from the sweeping vistas to the colourful characters. The story also twists constantly from lighthearted, to scary, to meaningful and invigorating. It’s also the Disney movie that probably contains the most lessons.

Rafiki’s famous wise words to Simba that, “‘The past can hurt, but the way I see it you can either run from it or learn from it” are so valuable, but only a small part of the main lesson.

This comes as Simba, having finally defeated Scar and reclaimed the Pride Lands, slowly walks to the top of Pride Rock as the music soars. It is an occasion that sets hearts racing with the glorious justice of it all, a crowning moment that sees Simba finally become who he was meant to be and is illustrative of just what makes the Lion King all kinds of wonderful.

For much of the film, we have seen Simba crushed by his belief that he was responsible for the death of his father. Despite his friends’ Timon and Pumbaa’s insistence that there is nothing he can do about it, and should forget it “Hakuuna Matata”, it weighs on him. When Mufasa dies Simba is just about as low as is possible, and what we can take away from this is that when we are defeated, when we feel like we can’t go on, when something is pushing us down, and we are in the throws of defeating ourselves, it will be standing up again, and facing the challenge that gets you the success in the end.

Other Disney films with a similar lesson:

Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming”

Cool Runnings: Whose heroes just keep standing up in the face of oppression, a lack of training and poor budgets to achieve the respect of the world.

Frozen

Credit: Youtube

We all know “Let it go” in many instances we know it too well, having had the song inflicted on us by everyone from toy stores, to radio, to the internet, and our children themselves, but the popularity of that song should do nothing to detract from just why “Frozen” is one of the most powerful Disney films of all time.

Amongst the high magic, including ice castles, a living snowman, rock trolls and an ice-giant “Frozen” is, at its heart a very human story. The traditional format of the fairy tale in which true love’s first kiss is used to solve numerous problems from Sleeping Beauty’s curse, to Snow White’s poisoned apple is cleverly subverted to bring home a powerful message.

By setting up younger sister Anna with a seemingly typical love story in which she meets a charming prince at a ball and is quickly singing of love eternal, the film guides us into that realm we know so well, only to twist the conventions on its head by later revealing that prince to be a scoundrel of the highest order.

Meanwhile, older sister Elsa literally terrified of her powers closes herself off to all love and companionship inside an ice castle.

In the end, that true love’s kiss comes not from the power-hungry prince, or even the sweet, potentially charming new man, but between the sisters. It’s a strong indication that real love is something that builds over time, that involves sacrifice, and hardship and ultimately setting aside your own fears and desires for someone else.

The importance of family and true friendships are brought to the fore, while the ridiculous notions of fairy tale love-at-first-sight romances are roundly condemned as being nothing but flights of imagination.

Other Disney films with a similar lesson:

The many adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh: “If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart. I’ll stay there forever.”

Lilo & Stitch: “‘Ohana’ means ‘family,’ and ‘family’ means nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten.”

Up

Credit: Youtube

If you can get through the opening scene depicting Ellie and Carl’s relationship without collapsing into a miserable heap then there is a really valuable reward for pressing on. The film centres on old Carl, who is left behind after the death of his wife and who has allowed life to make him surly and unhappy.

While together, Ellie and Carl had planned on buying a home at the top of a cliff overlooking Paradise Falls in South America, but life had a way of interceding with these plans and it never happened. Now old, and alone Carl clings to the memory of his wife and barely steps out of his door. So far, not a great movie to watch with your children.

But then an incident with a local construction worker sees the court order Carl to move out of his home and into a retirement village, and he resolves instead to use millions of balloons to turn the house into a giant airship. With a young “Wilderness Explorer” named Russell stowed away on board, Carl goes on a magnificent adventure culminating with the house, unknown to him, eventually perching above the falls.

The message is loud and clear, that we are never too old to make our dreams come true, but there is a stronger one there too. Ellie’s quote in the book, “Thanks for the adventure — now go have a new one!” plainly states it, that adventures are things we need to go and have, that we need to seek out. Life, excitement, stories and adventures only happen to us when we are forced out of our comfort zones, and into doing things we usually wouldn’t.

Carl’s life is changed for the better because of his adventures with Russell, and “Up” tells us this would never have happened if the court order hadn’t forced Carl to step up and move away from what he knew. We only grow, when we take chances.

Other Disney films with a similar lesson:

Tangled: “All those days watching from the window, all those years outside looking in, all that time never even knowing just how blind I’ve been. And it’s like the fog has lifted, and at last I see the light.” – Rapunzel.

Brave: “There are those who say fate is something beyond our command, that destiny is not our own. But I know better. Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it.” —Princess Merida