Music Day

Still from West Side Story
Still from West Side Story

Music is a powerful, stimulating force that brings people together. From jazz to reggae, soul music to pop, music is a constantly evolving form that expresses the concerns of its time and gives a voice to those might otherwise not be able to find an audience. This film list explores notable contributions to the world's music scene including documentaries and biopics of important artists, as well as films where the score forms a vital part of the storytelling.

Fantasia

CertU

Age groupAll ages

Duration120 mins

Fantasia(1940)

A Disney classic like no other, Fantasia is a magical journey through sound and vision.

A captivating introduction to classical music for younger viewers, this classic animation uses its Disney charm to draw audiences into a magical world where each piece of music tells a story.

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Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes (Kirikou and the Men and the Women)

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration88 mins

Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes (Kirikou and the Men and the Women)(2012)

Gorgeous, striking animated feature that follows the resourceful and heroic Kirikou; a small child living in a village in Africa.

In this celebration of traditional storytelling, encompassing five vignettes around tiny hero Kirikou and his fellow villagers are linked together with a catchy chorus reinforcing the message of each short film. The collection also features a short about the power of music to soothe the spirit which is sure to set toes tapping!

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Song of the Sea

CertPG

Age group5–11

Duration92 mins

Song of the Sea(2014)

A beautiful and touching animation based on an Irish folktale about a little girl who turns into a Selkie.

Featuring a haunting and beautiful score inspired by traditional Irish music, this charming animation centres around a little girl who cannot yet speak – but needs to find her voice to be able to save her fellow Selkies with the song of the sea.

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A Monster In Paris

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration86 mins

A Monster In Paris(2011)

A flea, accidentally made huge by a budding scientist, is loose in Paris where he takes refuge in a nightclub and his musical talent is discovered!

This musical adventure about a mutant flea with an incredible voice who finds sanctuary in a nightclub in the Parisian backstreets where the resident chanteuse sees past his frightening appearance has charming songs performed by Sean Lennon, as well as a strong message about not judging on face value.

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Jason and the Argonauts

CertU

Age group7+

Duration99 mins

Jason and the Argonauts(1963)

Based on a Greek myth, this adventure film sees hero Jason and the Argonauts on a supposedly doomed voyage to retrieve the Golden Fleece.

Featuring a stirring and brassy score from legendary film composer Bernard Hermann, the music perfectly complements the heroic adventures and battles against gods and monsters in this big-screen epic.

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Happy Feet

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration109 mins

Happy Feet(2006)

Tone-deaf Mumbles is a brilliant dancer - but that's no good when Emperor penguins are supposed to find a mate by singing.

Brimming with soulful songs and toe-tapping numbers, this film about a penguin who must find another way to impress a potential mate when he discovers he can’t sing features the Oscar-winning track ‘Song of the Heart’ from the late iconic musician Prince.

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Where The Wild Things Are

CertPG

Age group7–16

Duration99 mins

Where The Wild Things Are(2009)

Spike Jonze's live action adaptation of Maurice Sendak's children's classic about tameable monsters and an angry little boy.

This adaptation brings to life the source novel with a dreamy yet edgy score from indie rock musician Karen O which perfectly captures the spirit of Max’s grand escape to the land of the monsters, as well as the frustration and anxiety that drives him there.

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Ernesto

CertUnclassified

Age group5–7

Duration7 mins

Ernesto(2012)

When Ernesto realises he's the only kid in school with a full set of baby teeth, he tries most anything to get rid of them!

In this charming animated short, Ernesto feels very self-conscious about his baby teeth and tries to remove them. However, his teeth are having none of it and break into groovy protest song whenever he opens his mouth- which brings Ernesto even more attention than before!

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The Sound of Music

CertU

Age group7+

Duration174 mins

The Sound of Music(1965)

The stunning Austrian mountains provide the backdrop for this wartime musical extravaganza.

Charming Maria wins the hearts of the Von Trapp family with her inspiring song and buoyant positivity, and helps keep their spirits up with music when danger approaches in this classic and lavish musical.

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Into The Woods

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration120 mins

Into The Woods(2014)

The Grimm Fairytales are brought to life in this musical about a couple who venture into the woods to break a spell that has been cast on them.

Creating a dark and magical world, densely packed with familiar characters from fairy tales, this film takes the Hollywood musical form and runs with it to maximise the humour, scares and wonder to be found in the enchanted woods.

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West Side Story

CertPG

Age group7+

Duration145 mins

West Side Story(1961)

The classic love story of Romeo and Juliet is transported to 1950s New York in this Hollywood musical.

In this Leonard Bernstein-scored musical the streets of 1950s New York are brought to life with sultry Mambo beats. Expressing gang identity, conflict, and of course love, the music in this film simmers with excitement and tension.

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Into The Woods

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration120 mins

Into The Woods(2014)

The Grimm Fairytales are brought to life in this musical about a couple who venture into the woods to break a spell that has been cast on them.

Creating a dark and magical world, densely packed with familiar characters from fairy tales, this film takes the Hollywood musical form and runs with it to maximise the humour, scares and wonder to be found in the enchanted woods.

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Sounds Like Teen Spirit

CertPG

Age group7–16

Duration93 mins

Sounds Like Teen Spirit(2009)

One of the most entertaining documentaries in years, this follows the 10-15 year-old contestants in the Junior version of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Celebrating young people’s creativity, this documentary explores the preparation involved as well as the strategies for dealing with nerves as four young representatives of their countries get ready to showcase their talent.

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Benda Bilili!

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration86 mins

Benda Bilili!(2010)

Joyous triumph over adversity documentary about a group of homeless Congolese rumba-blues artists and the exhilarating music they produce.

This music documentary charts the progress over a five-year period of Staff Bend Bilili, a group of formerly homeless musicians whose name means ‘Look Beyond’, many of whom are affected by physical disabilities as a result of polio. Rising above the streets that were initially their platform, Staff Benda Bilili find their audience on the world stage.

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Marley

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration139 mins

Marley(2012)

Passionate in-depth documentary that shines a light on iconic reggae artist Bob Marley's political, religious and cultural beliefs.

Documentary about the personal and musical roots of the famous reggae legend. Analysing how music can be used to carry political messages as well as creating an enjoyable sound that brings people together, this is a fascinating insight into how Bob Marley became one of the most iconic musicians of all time.

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Whiplash

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration102 mins

Whiplash(2014)

Riveting two-hander about a jazz drummer and his demanding tutor.

The legacy of jazz music for a modern young audience is explored in this tense drama that reveals how determined and ambitious drummer Andrew is driven by the influence of groundbreaking musicians from a bygone era.

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Vi är bäst! (We Are the Best!)

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration97 mins

Vi är bäst! (We Are the Best!)(2013)

Joyous, energetic comedy in which three teenagers decide to form a punk band in 1980s Stockholm.

An affectionate look at claiming outsider status and self-expression through music perfectly captured in the defiant punk music of the time, this coming-of-age comedy features a healthy dose of girl power.

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West Side Story

CertPG

Age group7+

Duration145 mins

West Side Story(1961)

The classic love story of Romeo and Juliet is transported to 1950s New York in this Hollywood musical.

In this Leonard Bernstein-scored musical the streets of 1950s New York are brought to life with sultry Mambo beats. Expressing gang identity, conflict, and of course love, the music in this film simmers with excitement and tension.

Read more
Victoria

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration138 mins

Victoria(2015)

New-to-town Victoria finds herself in over her head when she agrees to help a man that she’s befriended on a night out.

This tense thriller is scored by contemporary Berlin composer Nils Frahm, who seamlessly takes us from the intense beats of a nightclub to a tender piano scene that showcases musical virtuosity.

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The Artist

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration97 mins

The Artist(2011)

Ingenious and heartfelt homage to silent era cinema.

Featuring a score that explicitly declares its love for cinema – even featuring a Bernard Hermann piece lifted from a climactic moment in Hitchcock’s Vertigo as part of its soundtrack, this film highlights the importance of music to tell an on-screen story, which was even more vital before the advent of the ‘talkies’.

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The Piano

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration120 mins

The Piano(1993)

Beautiful and passionate drama follows strong-willed Ada whose only form of communication is through the piano.

Scored by Michael Nyman, in this touching film the music takes on additional importance within the plot as it is the only form of self-expression and communication for Ada, a mute woman who through the use of music attempts to rise above her difficult circumstances.

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Inside Llewyn Davis

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration101 mins

Inside Llewyn Davis(2013)

A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.

Capturing a moment in time for a scene that is just on the brink of explosion, this wry comedy reveals the nomadic existence of artists trying to make a living from music and the distances they will travel to get a break.

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Amy

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration128 mins

Amy(2015)

Archive footage is used to tell the life and career of iconic soul singer Amy Winehouse.

In this compelling documentary Amy Winehouse’s soulful confessional songwriting and musical influences are explored in depth, alongside the experiences that, while helping to shape and add depth to her music, made her vulnerable as a person.

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