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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movies about Values

posted by Nell Minow

Beliefnet has posted my gallery of movies that illustrate important values like integrity, courage, courtesy, learning, and peace.
Movies are our sagas, our myths, our touchstones, and our collective cultural heritage. They are also one way that we teach ourselves and our children about values. Of course, kids get their most important lessons from the behavior of their parents. But movies give us a chance to explain and expand on those lessons through a modern form of parables or Aesop’s Fables. And like parables, stories in movies have the advantage of distance–it can be easier for kids to talk to parents about what’s happening on screen than to talk about what’s going on inside them. Those discussions are a powerful way for families to connect and communicate. I’ve selected 10 terrific movies in which characters show qualities like responsibility, integrity, compassion, and courage. Each is popcorn-worthy entertainment for families to share and a great way to begin conversations about the way that our values affect our choices and their consequences.
Check out the movies on my list and let me know which movies your family thinks illustrates important values.

  • jestrfyl

    I enjoyed your list, though I was uncertain about tow of the films. I have not seen “Little Princess”, so I had no means to judge it. I did like “Mathilda”, which seems similar, though Mathilda’s parents are as huge a problem as the head of the school to which she is sent. “A Man for All Seasons” is a great film about a critical time in history. But I am not sure I could convince a child to sit through it. My mom made me go see a biography of Martin Luther, starring stacy Keach, many years ago, and all I remember is some fascination with the church building (cool architecture) and being excrutiatinly bored.
    One film I would add is “Princess Bride”. It hits on many levels, including the issue of loyalty (though not to the level of Moore’s commitment). In some ways, Harry Potter 1 gets to the issue of loyalty – especially Neville’s, as he had to stand up to his only friends at Hogwarts. Another great film for loyalty, family ties, and cultural difference is both “The Gods Must Be Crazy”. Another film that deals with personal integrity is “The Man from Snowy River” – actually both of them.
    Pinskey has done a great book on Moral lessons from Disney films – I have used it several times. There are a few others as well, but I find his the most easily used.

  • Nell Minow

    All of the movies you name (except for the Martin Luther one) are in my book, which has chapters on each of the values and more with several movies to illustrate each one. I got the idea for the book when I was reading a Louisa May Alcott novel (Eight Cousins). In one chapter, the characters play a kind of charades-style game. The answer was Balaam and the ass. Everyone got it right away. I asked myself what today would be as universally recognized as that story was in the 1870’s and it seemed to me that the media was providing us with modern parables. I felt that whether we wanted them to or not, movies and television were communicating ideas about values and morality to our children. So I wrote a book to help parents make the most of that opportunity.

  • jestrfyl

    OK, I have to read your book. So it goes to the top of my pile. Now this is an interesting concept – which movies and/or TV shows have contributed lines to our culture that have become shorthand. “Use the Force”, “Beam me Up”, “He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named” are all in this list. I am curious to know what younger people feel are their cultural cliches.

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