Should children watch sad movies?

Do you let your children watch sad films?

It occurred to me, as I was enjoying a moment of high culture last night, and watching Terminator 3, that films where nobody dies are significantly less fun, somehow.

Honestly, who wants to see Arnie blow up a car filled with people and then see the text: HUMAN CASUALTIES: 0 on the bottom of the screen?


Similarly, I rolled my eyes a LOT when I read a review of The Hunger Games in one of the papers this week that was criticizing the book for being too violent for 13 year olds to see. I’m not sure what the reviewer expected – The Hunger Games is a story about 24 children who fight each other to the death so it’s not THAT surprising it’s a bit violent. But having watched the film myself at the cinema this weekend, there’s no gore at all, very little in the way of blood and the documentary-style handheld camera work means viewers see very little of the violence – it’s just an impression. And the film itself is just brilliant, it really is.

Obviously, I’m not about to sit Flea down in front of The Hunger Games but I do think it’s important to let children see films that depict death, or violence, or sadness. I tend to think stories like this provoke conversations, and allow children to explore difficult feelings and concepts in a ‘safe’ way – I’m not interested in only letting Flea see sanitized stories where everyone ends up friends, and nobody gets hurt.

Because life’s not like that.

Tots100 Parent Bloggers Film Club

It’s one of the reasons why I chose to watch The NeverEnding Story with Flea for this month’s Tots100 Film Club. As a Film Club reviewer, I get sent a family film to watch with Flea each month, and recommend it (or not) to other bloggers.

Here’s the thing about  The NeverEnding Story – it gets really, really sad.

In some ways, the film is a classic children’s adventure story. A boy is swept into an alternate world of magical creatures, where he embarks on a quest. There’s some top 80s music (if loving Limahl is wrong, I don’t want to be right) and some really nice story-telling.

But there’s one scene in the movie where, if this was a typical kids’ movie, things would turn out okay and success grabbed from the jaws of defeat. But in this case, it doesn’t happen. It ends really badly, and people are very sad as a result. Flea cried buckets. And then asked to watch the film again, and again. It’s one of her favourite films, and one of the few I’m happy to sit and watch with her – and I’m a sucker for a movie that tells kids how important books and imagination are.

I think it’s pretty healthy for children to watch the odd sad or scary film, but what do you reckon? Can children love a tear-jerker just as much as adults, or are they just likely to be upset? What sort of things wouldn’t you let your children watch?

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