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A Personal Insight: Katie Treharne's favourite films


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Film has the power to make us laugh, cry, and even act in a certain way. Watching intriguing and complex characters undergo meaningful changes has the potential to strike a chord with its audience, especially in cases where familiarity and empathy is sparked.

Therefore, how can there be a better way to understand a person than gaining an insight into their favourite films? With this firm belief, I have compiled a list of eight films that have struck a chord with me and influenced my love for film as I grew up.

Swiss family robinson

 1. Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

The first film I remember forming an attachment to is Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson, one of the most underrated and underpublicized Disney films. Swiss Family Robinson follows the Robinson family’s close encounters with wild animals, sinking sands, and pirates after they are shipwrecked on a remote island in the East Indies, a storyline that immediately appealed to my love for adventure and romance as a child. Even to this day, as a student of English literature, I am drawn to romantic tales of shipwrecks, storms, and family reunions, which I believe all stems from this one film.

2. Mary Poppins (1964)

For anyone who grew up in the noughties, Disney’s Mary Poppins was a must-have on tape. My own obsession with the remarkable nanny reached its heights when I began to recreate the bottomless-bag scene by pulling the same items out of a duffel bag, in time with the on-screen Mary Poppins. The heart-warming connections between Mary Poppins and the Banks’ children to this day has supported my firm belief in the power of friendship and familial love outside of blood relations.

3. The Secret Garden (1993)

In contrast with the family-centric films that captured my heart as a very young child, The Secret Garden is centred around 10-year-old orphan Mary Lennox, whose neglected upbringing has left her cold and scared of forming close attachments. When she moves from British India to live with her uncle in a secluded Yorkshire estate, she finds that the house operates in strict secrecy and finds salvation in the gardens, forming a bond with the other young children living there. Mary’s gradual emotional evolvement and maturity as she discovers the truth of her mother’s tragic past still pulls on my heart strings to this day.

4. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince (2009)

A personal insight into my life would be incomplete without mentioning the Harry Potter film franchise. My childhood has been framed by bi-yearly trips to the cinema to catch the latest additions to the franchise. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, released in 2009, perfectly coincided with my awkward teenage years, making the coming-of-age sub-plot  resonate with my own life.

5. Avatar (2009)

When Avatar was released in the cinemas in 3D, everyone was excited to see James Cameron’s use of “breakthrough” cinematic technology. Though the detailed plot kept me on my feet, the stunning visual imagery was the primary thing to keep my attention captured for the full duration of two hours and forty-two minutes and left me excited for what the future of film had in waiting.

6. Slumdog Millionaire (2009)

My education and experience watching films and TV was very Western-centric growing up. Set and filmed entirely in India, Slumdog Millionaire was the first film that provided me with an insight into a culture completely different from my own, opening my eyes to the vastly different and devastating struggles children undergo in other parts of the World. Nominated for ten Academy Awards and winning an incredible eight, this film is perfectly rounded, feeding the history of Jamal Malik, framed by the backstage brutality of a Westernised production of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

7. Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Period-drama Saving Mr. Banks tells the story of how Walt Disney brought and produced P.L. Travers’ novel Mary Poppins. Travers, played by Emma Thompson, is fiercely protective of her creation and resists any of Walt’s attempts to deviate from her direct instructions. As a developing creative fiction writer, Travers’ fierce protection of her characters inspired by people whom she treasures greatly, appealed to my own experiences in writing. The gradual relinquishing of control and placing her trust in Walt Disney to do her novel justice is heart-warming and inspiring.

8. La La Land (2017)

La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle, stormed into my life in 2017 and I haven't looked back since. As someone who over-indulged in musicals as a child – I’m talking watching The Sound of Music twice a day and Mary Poppins at least once a week – I was sick of musical by the time I entered my teenage years. I have maintained a strong and public dislike of musicals as a teenager and student, criticising their naive and un-naturalistic style and finding flaws with the interruption of narrative flow by regular extravagant musical orchestrations.

My first time watching La La Land did not change this view. Though the music is charming and undeniably captivating, it seemed to me as though it intruded upon and ruined the most sentimental and romantic moments. It took another two viewings before its impact fully sunk in. Now, I only have to hear the first few notes of Mia and Sebastian’s theme tune before the waterworks are turned on. All large-scale dances aside, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling fantastically portray the story of a pair of ambitious Hollywood wanna-be’s whose equally romantic and turbulent relationship is emotionally provoking but most importantly devastatingly realistic.

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