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Storytelling Around the World

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

This collection of titles focuses on different forms of storytelling throughout the world, both by and about different countries and cultures, including folk and fairy tales and other adaptations.

Together they celebrate film's power to enchant young audiences with unforgettable adventures, as well as opening eyes to diverse styles, approaches and experiences, drawing on the rich tapestry of cinema history in doing so.

Peter and the Wolf

CertU

Age group5–16

Duration32 mins

Peter and the Wolf(2006)

Oscar-winning animated version of the timeless folk tale, set to Sergei Prokofiev's classic orchestral composition.

The enchanting ‘Peter and the Wolf’ continues to enthral young children, partly due to Prokofiev's memorable music. It contains all the ingredients of the timeless folk tale, along with a few memorable additions, including an unexpected ending.

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Rio

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration94 mins

Rio(2011)

Combining amazing visuals with laughs and excitement this animated tale sees rare macaw Blu swap small-town America for Brazil’s exotic Rio.

From the animation studio behind the ‘Ice Age’ films, Blue Sky Studios, comes this South America-set film, a location which rarely appears in children’s films. While this title doesn’t focus on a cultural folk tale, the film’s theme song was performed by rapper Taio Cruz who has Brazilian ancestry, and the crew also visited the Brazilian capital city to conduct research.

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Arrietty

CertU

Age group5–14

Duration90 mins

Arrietty(2011)

Exquisite animation and lively score creates a fantastical backdrop for this classic story about the little people who 'borrow' everyday objects.

Mary Norton's classic story ‘The Borrowers’ is brought to life by legendary Japanese animators Studio Ghibli. The film combines a characteristically strong heroine with exquisite animation and a lively animated score, creating an exciting, fantastical version of a much-loved 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.

Life for young people in an African village can seem very distant to many of us. Based on a series of folk tales, this enchanting animation opens up a new culture to young audiences in accessible fashion. The myths and legends seen in the film are both culturally specific and also ripe for fascinating comparison with our own.

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The Singing Ringing Tree

CertU

Age group7–14

Duration72 mins

The Singing Ringing Tree(1957)

German children's film based on a Brothers Grimm style fairy tale, which has attracted a cult following.

This 1960s German adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales contains wild messages and some truly scary elements, but also captures how the morals of traditional stories can resonate in the real world to a remarkable degree.

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The Book of Life

CertU

Age group7–14

Duration95 mins

The Book of Life(2014)

Imaginative musical animation that takes you on a fun adventure through Mexican folklore.

Before Pixar’s ‘Coco’ there was another lively animation which also revolves around the Day of the Dead. Though it was animated in the US, there is lots of Mexican representation in its cast and crew: the film is co-directed and written by Jorge R. Gutierrez, produced by Guillermo Del Toro, and features the voice of Diego Luna.

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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.

This predominantly live-action film – featuring groundbreaking stop-motion animation by pioneer Ray Harryhausen – tackles Greek mythology on screen, specifically the story of Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece, and includes characters such as Zeus, Hercules, Hera and Hermes.

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Asterix and Obelix: Mansion of the Gods

CertPG

Age group7–11

Duration82 mins

Asterix and Obelix: Mansion of the Gods(2014)

Asterix’s village is once again under attack from the Romans, and their sly new tactics are proving persuasive with the townspeople.

The ‘Asterix’ adventures have always had international flavour and appeal. This film adaptation is one of many based on a French series of comic books, set during the era of Julius Caesar, which follow warriors who fight the Roman Republic.

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Wolfwalkers

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration103 mins

Wolfwalkers(2020)

Animation about two young girls in 17th century Ireland, one who seeks to eliminate the land’s final wolfpack and another who vows to protect them.

As with their previous films ‘The Secret of Kells’ and ‘Song of the Sea’, Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon explore the history of Irish culture and folk tales through gorgeous visuals in this acclaimed children’s film, putting a fantastical spin on historical events.

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La Belle Et La Bete

CertPG

Age group7+

Duration99 mins

La Belle Et La Bete(1946)

Inventive and magical French version of the Beauty and The Beast fairy tale, with effects that must be seen to be believed.

This French version of the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ fairy tale has been heralded for its remarkable subtlety, arresting imagery, and evocation of a magical, passionate and dangerous world. The film is rightly regarded as one of the true greats of world cinema.

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Tales of the Night

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration81 mins

Tales of the Night(2011)

Complete with werewolves, magical instruments, sorcerers and mythical beasts, this French animation captures the enchantment of storytelling.

This modern collection of animated fairy tales from France uses different storytelling techniques for each short film and locations around the world to tell a rich variety of stories packed with magic, mythology and adventure.

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The Illusionist

CertPG

Age group7+

Duration77 mins

The Illusionist(2010)

An old-fashioned illusionist - master of rabbit in a hat and card tricks - searches France and Scotland for an audience, in this beautiful animation.

This gentle animation is largely set in Scotland, both in the big city of Edinburgh and the rural Scottish isles. A British-French co-production, it explores the beautiful landscape of the country as well as its colourful inhabitants, themes echoed by Pixar’s ‘Brave’ a couple of years later.

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The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

CertU

Age group11+

Duration131 mins

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya(2013)

A beautifully animated Japanese fantasy from the makers of Spirited Away, about a Princess sent to Earth from the Moon.

The 10th century Japanese folk tale ‘The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter’ is beautifully adapted by Studio Ghibli here, demonstrating how even the oldest pieces of storytelling continue to have the power to delight audiences, spark their imaginations and teach valuable lessons.

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Alice

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration82 mins

Alice(1988)

Czech master of surreal animation Jan Svankmajer brings his dark talents to a magically creepy, loose adaptation of Lewis Carroll's loopy fantasy.

Legendary Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer uses stop-motion animation to bring Lewis Carroll's iconic creation to life like never before. The results are darker and stranger than other film versions, but perhaps also more in keeping with the original material.

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Pinocchio

CertPG

Age group11–16

Duration125 mins

Pinocchio(2019)

Magical adventure in which a lonely puppet-maker is shocked when he discovers one of his wooden puppets has come to life.

The story of the wooden puppet who wants to be a real boy actually originates from the 1883 children’s novel ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’, by an Italian writer, despite Disney popularising the story in their 1940 animated tale. This live-action version from Italian director Matteo Garrone is a slightly darker and more mature interpretation of the beloved fairy tale.

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Tales From Earthsea

CertPG

Age group11–16

Duration110 mins

Tales From Earthsea(2006)

Animated film from Japan, based on the long-running Earthsea novels, about a 17-year-old and a wizard who travel across the troubled, magical land.

Though Studio Ghibli are a celebrated Japanese animation studio, many of their tales were inspired by or adapted from other cultures, including works from a number of British authors (as above). This lesser-seen Ghibli title is from US writer Ursula Le Guin’s fantasy series, and this combination of cultures makes for a fascinating fictional landscape.

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Thor

Cert12

Age group11–16

Duration110 mins

Thor(2011)

Based on the Marvel comic book, this funny, visually spectacular superhero epic focuses on the powerful warrior Thor and his enforced visit to Earth.

One of Marvel’s earlier films embraces Norse mythology, with characters such as Loki and Odin appearing alongside the titular God. This is a witty blockbuster which helped establish the cinematic language of the comic book movie, perhaps the dominant storytelling device of our age.

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Y Mabinogi

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration108 mins

Y Mabinogi(2003)

This fantasy feature tells the story of the Welsh legends of the Mabinogion. Mae'r ffilm hon yn cyflwyno chwedlau bywiog y Mabinogi.

This feature blends live-action and animation to tell the story of the Welsh legends of the Mabinogion, as three modern-day teenagers swim through a magical gateway in the sea to a 6th century Celtic Otherworld.

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Blancanieves

Cert12

Age group11–16

Duration100 mins

Blancanieves(2013)

A artful adaptation of the classic Snow White tale, relocating the story to 1920s Spain where young Carmen has to reinvent herself as a matador.

The ‘Snow White’ fairy tale is relocated to 1920s Spain in this remarkable, critically acclaimed black-and-white silent film from 2012. The film not only opens the original story up in provocative, innovative fashion, but will also ignite interest into how film itself functions as a storytelling device.

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