art by Maria Wagner
(in no particular order)
  1. The Red Balloon (a 34-minute wordless masterpiece with a 3-or-so-year-old boy as a protagonist)
  2. 2 volumes of Russian Animation (some shorts are by the ultimate master Yuri Norstein, others are equally fascinating. A few highlights are "Ballerina On a Boat", "Hedgehog In the Fog", "The Tale of Two Cranes", "The Tale Of Tales"). 
  3. Animated Shakespeare (very well done by the masters of Russian animation and read by the members of the Royal Shakespeare Company)
  4. Animation by Alexeev and Parker (Mussorgsky's "Pictures At an Exhibition", Gogol's "Nose" and more)
  5. Messages From Water (a 40-minute illustration of how our thoughts and intuitions influence the formation of water crystals, with the participation of children)
  6. The Tales of Beatrix Potter, With Dancers of the Royal Ballet - 1971 (a series of ballet sequences by the great British choreographer Frederick Ashton, set in the English countryside with the Beatrix Potter characters performing whimsical, charming dances. There are now more recent versions of this, which may be just as good, but this is the only one set in the countryside)
  7. Baryshnikov's Nutcracker (of all the Nutcrackers out there, this one may be the most enchanting) 
  8. The Steamroller and the Violin (a graduate film about a little boy by Andrei Tarkovsky - need we say more?)
  9. Ivan's Childhood (for older children, directed by Tarkovsky)
  10. Ashik-Kerib (Sergei Paradjanov's masterpiece, based on the fairytale by the great Russian poet Michael Lermontov. Paradjanov said that he made it "for the children of this world", among whom he numbered himself)
  11. The Secret Garden (directed by a Polish woman-director Agnieszka Holland, who was an assistant to Kieslowski. This film is especially good for little girls)
  12. The Never-Ending Story (especially good for little boys)
  13. The Secret of Roan Inish (a wonderful film)
  14. The Magic Flute (only as directed by Ingmar Bergman. A combination of Mozart's musical genius and Bergman's cinematic genius. Resounding reaffirmation of male and female virtues, as well as of the striving for the transcendent, eternal ideals!).
  15. Black Hen (on Ruscico label. A great film.)
  16. The Tale Of Tsar Saltan (on Ruscico label. Based on a fairytale by the greatest Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, this is not a great film, but it has great special effects and great ideals).
  17. Snow Maiden (on Ruscico label, directed by Ptushko)
  18. Scarlet Sails (on Ruscico label, directed by Ptushko) In fact, Ruscico has released a number of Russian fairytales, most of them directed by Ptushko, and they should all be worthwhile.
  19. Ballet Shoes (the 1976 Masterpiece Theater production, though stagy, is much better than the more recent contemporized slick version).
  20. The Red Shoes (based on Hans Christian Andersen; very young children might find the ending upsetting. Contains superb ballet sequences by the great British choreographer Frederick Ashton)
  21. Mon Oncle (directed by Jacque Tati. Tati made almost wordless, thinking-man's comedies, so there are very few subtitles)
  22. Mr. Hulot's Holiday (directed by Jacque Tati)
  23. Jour du Fete (directed by Jacque Tati)
  24. Any Chaplin, of course
  25. Just about any good British screen adaptation of Dickens (David Lean's "Great Expectations" is particularly good)
  26. The Art Of Violin: The Devil's Instrument (directed by Bruno Monsaigeon, who was himself a concert violinist and who made wonderful films on many great performers, among them "Richter: The Enigma". I gave this film to my 11-year-old niece, who plays violin in her school orchestra) 

Copyright (c) 2009 Gregory Pearse & Maria Wagner