The moon in the night sky

Maybe you already know how great The Wizard of Oz is. Maybe you’ve already seen a film by the amazing Japanese director Miyazaki Hayao. Ponyo, or Spirited Away, or My Neighbour Totoro (if you haven’t, please do, they’ll shiver your timbers).

Here’s a list of many more films like these that we think are brilliant. There’s comedy, adventure, magic, love, music, dancing, lots of happy endings and a few sad ones. We’re sure you’ll find something here that tingles your taste buds. Just dive in!

Now here’s a weird list: Magical films from around the world that you can’t rent or buy in the UK. So why would we even mention them? Because we like to dream. And because if enough people want to see these films, then our dream might come true.

So take a look at the list... If you like the sound of anything here, let us know and we’ll send your messages to the people who decide what gets shown in cinemas, on DVD and on TV. Maybe they will listen.

An owl says 'hint hint'

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

USA, 1955, Cert U • Dir. Richard Fleischer

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Who doesn’t want to see a giant squid attack a boat?! In this story, lots of ships are being sunk, so a special ship goes to find out why. They discover that the culprit is a submarine. Its captain, Nemo, hates life and wants revenge. Adventure, special effects, intrigue… It's all there!

The Adventures of Prince Achmed

Germany, 1926, Cert PG • Dir. Lotte Reiniger

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The wild adventures of a prince on a flying horse, who fights an evil sorcerer; falls in love with a princes; hears the story of Aladdin and meets the Fire Mountain witch. This is one of the first animated films ever made! It's hard to believe it, but it was made just by cutting out black bits of paper. If you like this, you’ll like Lotte Reiniger’s Fairy Tales, too.

Adventures of Robin Hood

USA, 1938, Cert U • Dir. Michael Curtiz & William Keighley

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And what adventures! In Sherwood Forest! Prince John becomes a brutal and nasty King. An archer called Robin Hood, and his band of friends, defend the people against him. The horrible Sheriff of Nottingham tries to capture Robin…but the merry men have a few tricks up their sleeves. A joyful Hollywood romp.

Azur and Asmar - The Princes Quest

Spain/Italy/Belgium/France, 2006, Cert U • Dir. Michel Ocelot

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A little French boy, Azur, and an Arab boy, Asmar, who are growing up together, both dream of finding the Djinn Princess…Life separates them. Azur becomes blind. Asmar becomes a great horseman…This is a dazzlingly beautiful animation about growing up, discovering life’s wonder, the harshness of racism but the thrill of friendship…glorious!

Beauty and the Beast

France, 1946, Cert PG • Dir. Jean Cocteau

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A beautiful woman gets drawn into the world of a hairy beast, but he’s sad rather than scary. He lives in an enchanted place where arms come out of walls and everything seems lit by moonlight…A gorgeous, dreamlike fantasy…

The Boy who stopped talking

Netherlands, 1996, Cert PG • Dir. Ben Sombogaart

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Memo is a boy who lives in Kurdish Turkey. When a war starts against his people, his father takes the family to the safety of the Netherlands. Memo’s angry at being taken away, so decides to stop speaking in protest! But then he makes a friend….

The Brave Little Toaster

USA, 1987, Cert U • Dir. Jerry Rees

A toaster, a lamp, a radio, an electric blanket and a vacuum cleaner are abandoned in a shack, so set out on an adventure to find their owner, a teenage boy. This is a lovely wee animated movie about friendship…

Great Expectations

UK, 1946, Cert PG • Dir. David Lean

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An ordinary boy called Pip visits an eerie, crumbling mansion, where he meets an ancient lady and a beautiful girl called Estella. As he grows older, a secretive person starts to give him money. He guesses that it is the old lady, but he is wrong….

The Hidden Fortress

Japan, 1958, Cert PG • Dir. Akira Kurosawa

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If you have seen Star Wars, this beautiful Japanese film will seem strangely familiar. It starts with two bickering, feardie guys – a bit like R2D2 and C3PO. Soon they hear of a Princess who will be at war against an evil man – a bit like Princess Leia and the evil empire. There are fights with samurai swords (which became light sabers in Star Wars). Action, adventure and comedy all follow. The Hidden Fortress isn’t a sci-fi movie, and its pace is slower than Star Wars but its images are amazing, it has exactly the same “wipes” from one scene to another as you get in Star Wars, and it was directed by one of the world’s great filmmakers, Akira Kurosawa.

Hoppity Goes To Town

USA, 1941, Cert U • Dir. Dave Fleischer

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"If you liked Wall-E, you’ll like this: A lanky bug called Hoppity peers at the city in which he lives. All is not well: Cigarette butts dropped by humans are starting fires. The building of a skyscraper is threatening his whole neighbourhood. But the bugs are resourceful. They use an old harmonica as a grand organ, and a woman’s make-up compact becomes a bed. Plus they have spied a garden in which they could make a beautiful new home…
Disney films weren’t the only animations in Hollywood. This movie was made by a brilliant animator called Dave Fleischer and his team, who were interested in the environment and didn’t like cutesy sentiment. Way ahead of its time and a real treat."

Hue and Cry

UK, 1947, Cert U • Dir. Charles Crichton

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When adults can’t solve a crime, kids will! Master crooks are sending messages in code in the pages of a kids’ cartoon. One boy, Joe, spots this and tells the police, but they do nothing, so he and his pals tackle the problem. This is a dark, funny, exciting film that has some realistic punch ups, so might be a wee bit tough if you are a gentle sort!

The Incredible Shrinking Man

USA, 1957, Cert PG • Dir. Jack Arnold

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Imagine you are on a boat... a mist comes in... but it's no ordinary mist. It does something to you. You start to notice that your clothes are big. Soon you are so small that you have to live in a doll’s house. Your cat is terrifying. You fight a spider with a needle…

The Iron Giant

USA, 1999, Cert U • Dir. Brad Bird

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A huge, metal extra-terrestrial arrives on earth; people are wary, the army gets involved... But a wee boy can see the soul in the visitor and his gentleness. So many of the great kids films are about unlikely friendships. This is one of the best. It’s a moving, exciting masterpiece, animated in a beautiful, traditional style, by the man who made Ratatouille and The Incredibles.

Jour de Fête

France, 1949, Cert U • Dir. Jacques Tati

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The big man with the short trousers, Jacques Tati! This is the tale of a postman in a small town. The world is getting speedier. People are travelling by airplane. All he has is his bike and his hope that he can deliver the mail a bit faster. Local people make fun of him, but he is in own world, which is funny and child-like…

The Kid

USA, 1922, Cert U • Dir. Charles Chaplin

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A mum can’t look after her child. A travelling window fixer decides to care for the boy. They become father and son. The boy throws stones through windows so the dad can get money by fixing them. Then men come along to take the boy away. You’ll laugh at the antics of this brilliant film from the silent movie days, but you might feel sad, too, because the man and child love each other…

King Kong

USA, 1933, Cert PG • Dir. Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack

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Explorers find a lost kingdom; they hear animal noises and then, unbelievably, see a giant Gorilla. They decide to bring him back to the city, to show him in a kind of circus and make money out of him. They chain him up. They don’t notice how hurt the gorilla is and how angry. Finally he breaks free of his chains…A brilliant old adventure movie – thrilling and decent. The scene where the Gorilla fights the Dinosaur is amazing!

Kirikou and the Sorceress

France, 1998, Cert U • Dir. Michel Ocelot

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Wow! This is brilliant. Kirikou is a little African boy. He must meet and defeat the powerful sorceress who took all the water from his village and swallowed all the men who tried to attack her! Though he is small, he’s courageous, and finds the truth about the world. GORGEOUS. Please see this film.


UK, 1952 • Dir. Alexander Mackendrick

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The parents of a little girl called Mandy realise that she is deaf. They argue about what this will mean for her life. But then they find a school where deafness is normal. Mandy goes there and starts to open up to the world. This movie, made by Scottish director Alexander MacKendrick, is as much about the mum and dad as the girl, and it’s old fashioned in many ways, but it’s on our list because the actress who plays Mandy is brilliant and it makes us cry!

Mon Oncle

France, 1958, Cert U • Dir. Jacques Tati

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Gerard lives in an ultra modern, spick-and-span house. His dad works in a plastics factory and is ultra modern too. But Gerard’s favourite uncle is just the opposite – hilariously accident prone and bewildered by gadgets. Gerard loves this, but his parents think the boy, like his uncle, will end up being a bull in a china shop, so they get the uncle a job in the plastics factory. BIG mistake! Five years after taking Mister Hulot on holiday (link to: Vacances de Monsieur Hulot), the brilliant comedian Jacques Tati plays him again, this time in colour. The result will have you giggling and – whisper it – maybe even mimicking him!

Mr Hulot’s Holiday

France, 1953, Cert U • Dir. Jacques Tati

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Here comes trouble! Mister Hulot goes to a sleepy wee seaside resort. The place is a bit strange even before he arrives, but afterwards, NOTHING seems quite right. This giggle-fest has almost no dialogue. We’ve all been on daft holidays like this!

Steamboat Bill Jr

USA, 1928, Cert U • Dir. Charles Reisner

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Bill Jr comes back from college to help his dad run the steamboat business, but in the years he was away from home, Jr has not quite become the strapping lad his dad had hoped for. Bill Jr is so clumsy his dad sends him away… yet when the storm rages Bill Jr ends up saving the day. Buster Keaton was one of the funniest actors of the silent era, known for his incredibly daring stunts. This brilliant film is full of amazing action sequences, on the river and on "dry" land. Watch out for the house falling on top of him!

Our Relations

USA, 1936, Cert U • Dir. Harry Lachman

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Laurel and Hardy are two great, funny men who always seem like wee boys in grown-ups' bodies and who ALWAYS fall down a hole in the road if there is one. In this movie, their twin brothers, who are nasty sailors, turn up. The brothers get into all sorts of trouble and Laurel and Hardy get the blame! The story is complicated, but the scenes are really funny.

Peter & the Wolf

UK, 2006, Cert U • Dir. Suzie Templeton

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A small boy lives with his grumpy grandfather on the edge of a mysterious forest, in which wolves roam. One day, encouraged by a bird, the boy tiptoes into the forest. It’s fascinating and dangerous. Then he sees a wolf eating his pet duck… You’ll never forget this totally brilliant film, though the scene where the wolf eats the duck is quite scary…


France, 1996, Cert PG • Dir. Jacques Doillon

Get your hankies out….Little Ponette, who is four, is in a car crash. Her mummy dies. She doesn’t know where she’s gone. So she tries to find her. What a brilliant film this is! You totally get into the wee girl’s world, as she learns to love life as much as she can…

The Red Balloon

France, 1956, Cert U • Dir. Albert Lamorisse

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A wee French boy is quite lonely. His best friend is a huge red balloon, which goes everywhere with him. Some bad kids bully the wee boy, but something magical happens that saves the day. What a brilliant film this is. It’s like the movie Up but ever better. It’s make you feel like you can fly…

The Red Shoes

UK, 1948, Cert U • Dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger

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Welcome to the swirling, passionate world of dance. An obsessive dance genius wants ballerina Victoria Page to star in the Red Shoes, an enchanting story. But there’s a suprising and dark side to the tale, as this colourful, romantic film shows…

Ring of Bright Water

UK, 1969, Cert U • Dir. Jack Couffer

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A man who lives in a big city passes an otter every day. Then he hears that it is to be sold to a circus and, so, buys it. It wrecks his house, so he moves to Scotland and discovers a new life. What a friendship…what a lovely film…what a sad ending!

Safety last

USA, 1923, Cert U • Dir. Fred Newmeyer & Sam Taylor

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We’ve NEVER climbed a building but this film makes us feel that we have! The brilliant comedian from silent movies, Harold Lloyd, gets a job in a big store. He pretends to his girlfriend that he’s the manager, but he’s a humble sales assistant. He plans a publicity stunt – someone should climb the front of the tall tall building. He doesn’t think that it’ll be him, but it is! The climb is incredible, your heart’ll be in your mouth!

Singin’ in the Rain

USA, 1952, Cert U • Dir. Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen

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In the old days of the movies, there is a beautiful film star. Her only problem is that she has a squeaky voice. And talking films are coming along. So an ordinary actress has to provide a nice voice for her. The posh movie star wants to keep this secret but her co-star, a handsome man, falls in love with the ordinary actress and wants to reveal the truth. This film is goofy, and beautiful, and funny, and entertaining. It’s one of the most famous movies ever made, and rightly so. You’ll want to dance on tables and put lamps shades on your head!

The Singing Ringing Tree

Germany, 1957, Cert U • Dir. Francesco Stefani

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If you like The Wizard of Oz, you’ll love this! A prince wants to marry a princess. She is hard hearted and says she’ll only say yes if he brings her the mythical singing ringing tree. He goes to find it; his horse turns to stone; he turns into a bear, and there’s a goldfish as big as a whale! The story even reminds us of Shrek!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

USA, 1937, Cert U • Dir. David Hand

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A wicked queen wants to be the fairest in the land, but her stepdaughter is. The queen gets angry so the step daughter, Snow White, hides in a cottage with seven little men, all with a strong personality. You’ve probably seen this film and been scared by the queen and laughed at sneezy, and sung along to Heigh Ho and Whistle While You Work. But if you haven’t GET GOING!

The Thief of Baghdad

UK, 1940, Cert U • Dir. Ludwig Berger & Michael Powell

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A blind man tells the story of a boy thief and a deposed prince. They escape prison; defeat the evil Jaffar; fly on magic carpets; meet a genie; voyage across the sea and so much more. Could this be the greatest, most beautiful fantasy film ever made? Tell us what you think!

Tiger Bay

UK, 1959, Cert PG • Dir. J Lee Thompson

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A Welsh girl “who’d rather play with guns and dress up as a gangster” than play with dolls, sees a Polish sailor murder his girlfriend. A friendship builds between the man and the girl, but the police start to investigate the crime…

The animated films of Miyazaki

Japan • Dir. Hayao Miyazaki

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You probably know about these brilliant, dreamlike, sometimes creepy, wildly imaginative films from Japan, but if you haven’t seen any of them, you have a treat in store! Which should you see first? My Neighbour Totoro, maybe, or Princess Mononoke? Or Howl’s Moving Castle…They’re like riding a rollercoaster and eating a worm at the same time!

The animated films of Norman McLaren

UK/Canada Cert PG • Dir. Norman McLaren

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We’re used to animation being like Toy Story or Shrek, but these films by the great Scottish director Norman McLaren are TOTALLY different. Sometimes he scratched on film, often he painted on it, or moved chairs around in stop motion. His most famous film, Neighbours, is amazing but quite violent at one point, but most of the films are all wee gems of colour – squiggles, doodles, movie dances.

Fairy Tales

Cert PG • Dir. Lotte Reiniger

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These short, animated cut-out films are made by the same woman who made The Adventures of Prince Ahmed. They involve magic carpets, far-off lands, animals and princesses and make you want to draw the pictures afterwards!

Zéro de conduite

France, 1933, Cert PG • Dir. Jean Vigo

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This weird little film is about kids rebelling against harsh teachers. It was made by a man who, as an orphan, had found his boarding school teachers way too strict and uncaring. The film, which was banned at the time of its release, is brilliantly original. The story wanders a bit, and is sometimes unclear, but this is like a really powerful poem about being young…