Films have always been a great, and entertaining medium for creating awareness among viewers. It is through films that we experience worlds we otherwise do not know. Films are made keeping the audience in mind. There are films for every age-group, including children. With the emergence of online education amid the current pandemic, a lot of focus has been given to films as a tool to impart education to school-going children.
In this piece, Rising Kashmir’s sub-editor Irfan Mehraj lists out some of the best educational films that children can watch to gain not only knowledge but also entertain themselves amid the harsh winter in Kashmir. These films are not only popular but have been recognised all over the world for the powerful ways in which they educate children. The films chosen in this list are based on popular opinion and include fictional and animated films.
The Blue Umbrella
Based on the book by the same name by Ruskin Bond, The Blue Umbrella (2005) is a popular film for children which are shown in schools across India. Directed by well-known Bollywood director Vishal Bhardwaj, the film revolves around a nine-year-old girl Biniya who lives with her mother and brother. The film is set in a picturesque village in Himachal Pradesh. The film is a fable. On discovering a blue umbrella, the little girl brings it home in exchange for her bear claw necklace to the chagrin of her mother. Everyone in the village is amazed by the umbrella and wants to take it away from her. The umbrella is stolen one day and the little girl is heartbroken. She suspects the wily shopkeeper but the police are unable to find anything. This angers the shopkeeper so much that he gets his own umbrella and becomes the new center of attraction of the village. The umbrella represents everything that is good and bad in society. It imparts the important lesson of how materialism and selfishness are harmful to society and how friendship and love are the answers to it. The film is a must-watch feel-good story for the kids.
2. The Story of Mankind
One of the earliest fantasy fiction films released in 1957, the film is based on the book of the same name by the Dutch American Historian Hendrik Willen Van Loon. Regarded as one of the foremost educational movies, the film takes the viewers on a journey. This journey starts right from the origin of the universe, which has amazed young and old alike, to how civilisations developed and rounds it off by telling us how mankind has evolved. With great visuals, it's a treat for kids. The film is a great tool to make children understand the concept of the origin of the world and history. One of the best features of the film is that it tells us about the historical innovations that have taken place across the story of making. It’s an essential educational movie for kids.
3. Taare Zameen Par
Released in 2007, the film is still very well regarded and is considered a remarkable movie for children, especially school going ones. The focus of the film is how keen attention to children’s interests can help them realise their potential even if parents may want something else for them. Produced and directed by film star Aamir Khan, who also features in the film, the story revolves around an eight-year-old kid Ishaan, who is dyslexic. Ishaan is passionate about art and expresses his emotions and feelings through art but his academic performance is quite poor. His parents send him to a boarding school, much to the dislike of the kid. The film has won many awards and the film has created great awareness about dyslexia. A truly feel-good movie, every child struggling with their academics should watch this film.
4. The Lion King
This American animated film was released in 1994 and has been a raving success since then. So much so that Walt Disney Pictures, the producers of the film made a remake in 2019 with photo-realistic elements. The film is a marvellous Disney picture. The film tells the story of a lion named Simba, who is going to succeed his father Mufasa as the King of the Pride Lands. When Mufasa is murdered by Scar, an uncle of Simba, and seizes the throne, Simba goes into exile. The film was nominated for an Oscar and four Golden Globe Awards. It's a wonderful film which the kids will love to watch. The story of Simba can be very inspiring for the kids. Simba is a young lion and is growing up and facing troubles. The film can teach kids to face their worst fears and how to win. The film teaches the importance of friendship and love. It’s an absolute must-watch.
5. Toy Story
Another classic American animated film released in 1995, the film is the first instalment in the Toy Story franchise. The film takes place in a world where toys come to life when humans are not present and is an absolute gem. The story revolves around an old-fashioned cowboy named Woody and a modern astronaut action figure Buzz and their conflict with each other. An essential film for kids to watch, the film helps us understand the importance of change and that we can’t stop it. The film focuses on how it is necessary to help children grow and learn. It also teaches us to accept ourselves and one must tune in to one’s inner voice to find happiness. Don’t miss this one.
Released in 2008, this American animated science fiction film follows the story of a robot on a future earth that is uninhabitable and deserted. The robot is left to clean up garbage. While on this job, the robot falls in love and it sets on a journey of the galaxy. This journey by the robot Wall-E with EVE, determines the fate of mankind. This animation film has an important lesson for us - both children and adults, and that is the destruction of the earth by humans and how we can still reverse that destruction by making amends. It's a must-watch social awareness film for the kids.
The film is an animated science fiction film for children released in 2007 and is regarded as one of the prominent films for kids. The story of the film revolves around the 12-year-old boy Miguel who loves music but which his family forbids. When he accidentally is transported to the Land of the Dead, he confronts his fears but also finds a way to solve his family’s ban on music. It is the Land of the Dead where he seeks the help of his great-great-grandfather, who was a musician, to return him to the living world and among his family. He also seeks his help in reversing his family’s ban on music. The story of Miguel is an excellent story talking about optimism and hope and how passion for an art form can transform kids. It’s an excellent animation and educational film for kids.
8. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
This is the oldest film on this list. Released in 1937, this American animated fantasy fiction film has achieved cult status among viewers. Essentially a film for preschoolers, the film is one of the most successful Disney pictures and has been critically hailed as one of the greatest animated films. The story of the film revolves around a young princess named Snow White, who has lost both her parents and lives with her stepmother. The story of Snow White and Seven Dwarfs can help children understand the concepts of good and evil early on in their lives. The story also teaches an important lesson of care within the family and family as a big support for kids. The American Film Institute ranked it among the 100 greatest American films, and also named the film as the greatest American animated film of all time in 2008. The film can be viewed by kids as young as four-year olds.
9. Inside Out
Directed by American animator Pete Docter, the film is an animated film and was released in 2015. The film revolves around a young girl Riley, who is guided by a lot of emotions like sadness, anger, distress, joy, and fear. Her emotions are controlled by her brain. Inside Out is a film that teaches us about emotions in a funny and light manner. It personifies emotions as people inside our heads, and how children hear and listen to these voices inside their heads and make a decision based on these voices. The film is a simple and beautifully made animation and is an excellent portrayal of how emotions play out in a young person’s life. The film has the message of staying positive and happy.
10. The Incredibles
The last film on this list is another animated film that kids would love. Released in 2004, kids would especially love this film as it’s an animated superhero movie. The film revolves around two superheroes Bob and Helen Parr, who are a couple and are known as Mr Incredible and Elastigirl. The superhero couple has to hide their powers in view of government orders and is living a quiet life with their children. However, things change when Mr Incredible’s desire to help turns into a confrontation with an enemy and in which his entire family gets involved. He has to save the world from destruction. Children will love this movie as the story showcases how there is strength in unity and the will to go to any length can save the day.