The advantage of having much younger siblings is they often remind you of things you loved dearly as a small person yourself. My brother and sister are both mad on Pokemon, and can hold discussions with myself and my other older siblings that make everyone sound like giant, knowledgable about Pokemon, nerds.
I was reminded recently of some films that we used to frequently watch. It was a thing when we were younger, that my sisters and I would climb into one bed and watch a video on the video tv combo. The screen was smaller than my iPad mini, and we’d always pick a video recorded off the television – because Mum liked to make the most of things she’d spent money on, which meant there would be no less than three films recorded on one blank video. Ergo, more TV watching time for us.
These are just a few of our favourites:
1. The Land Before Time
I forget how high the series went, but the first was the classic. Although we did always have a soft spot for the one with the baby T-Rex in it. TLBT one had the trifecta of children’s movies – dead parents, great peril and the power of friendship. We cried and laughed and hid behind pillows while watching. We used to have a collection of dinosaur models from the Early Learning Centre, and would faithfully reenact the film, occasionally adding our own embellishments, all while getting under out mother’s feet. We even had the singalong tape, if I remember correctly. Ah those heady days before Youtube, when you actually had to buy singalong videos. And watch them in order!
2. The Never-ending Story
I equal parts loved and hated this film, because it used to scare the crap out of me. That wolf monster at the end? Nightmare fodder. It’s funny, because this came up at work the other day, and no one really remembered it, but everyone who has seen it at some point always remembers one thing – breaking their heart when the horse drowns in the swamp. I rewatched this in the last couple of years, and it’s funny how early the horse drowning comes – not really long enough for you to even be invested in the story. But I guess as kids we love unabashedly and unconditionally, which is why the death of the horse affects us so much.
3. An American Tail
I actually can’t remember a single thing about this film, other than the fact that it had a big ginger cat in it, Fieval got lost somehow (and manages to again and again in sequels) and the streets were paved with cheese. Something about it must have captured our imagination, though, because I’m pretty sure we watched it until the tape stopped working. Which, given old video recorders’ habit of eating tapes, may not have even been that many times, but I think it was a popular one. The name sticks with me, anyway, which is more than I can say for a lot of films that I remember this vaguely. We did also have the sequel – Fieval Goes West. Of which I remember even less.
4. Sampson and Sally
This film I remember pretty well considering it’s quite obscure. I don’t remember the whole story – it’s about whales and they’re migrating, and there are two little whales who are friends called Sally and Sampson. But, there is one scene in it which has stuck with me all through my life. I still sometimes have dreams I’m sure are influenced by it. It’s the bit where there’s an oil slick on the surface of the water, and it’s on fire. The whales have to swim beneath it, but it’s huge and they have to hold their breath for a really long time. Some of them don’t make it. Traumatic. (Also, I just read the wikipedia article while looking for the picture of the video cover – the story is seriously dark!)
Speaking of traumatic… Balto used to make me cry almost every time I watched it. The little girl with diptheria desperately needing her medicine, the perilous journey to go and get it, the way Balto was outcast all his life because he was half wolf half dog, and how that exact quality was what made him perfect for the quest… it was a perfect story and beautifully animated. Definitely one I wouldn’t mind watching again now!