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Tell Us Your Favorite Family Films
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"In an old house in Paris, all covered with vines" begins the classic story of Madeline, adored by parents and children alike for over sixty years. Of course, it's risky to bring a beloved story to the screen but the 1998 version of Madeline captures both the spirit of the books and the magic of Paris. The story of a little girl in a Parisian boarding house includes elements from the book -- Frances McDormand plays Miss Clavell, overseeing the appendectomy, and keeping the girls in "two straight lines" -- but also adds some fun with a plot to sell the orphanage and Pepito, "the son of the Spanish ambassador" and his moped. Madeline is mischievous and endearing, and the film sets the storyline in 1950s Paris; it feels perfectly modern and is true to the magical storyline that we have all come to love. Our kids loved the scenes of the kids discussing the merits of vegetarianism at the long dinner table, and were thrilled when Madeline runs away to the circus. We felt as though we'd been on a beautiful Parisian vacation and visited with a dear friend."
Continue your French lesson by spending a few lazy summer hours pouring over the works of the French Impressionists. We checked out a book about Monet and showed the kids a few of our favorite paintings; it was fun to share a few vague facts that we remembered from Art 101, and they liked hearing that Monet and his cronies revolutionized the art world with their simple scenery and unorthodox methods of applying paint to canvas. Our local art museum has a few of Claude's masterpieces, and though they weren't the iconic images from the book, the kids loved connecting the artist with a local canvas. Our museum happens to have a huge bronze sculpture of a foot -- a foot that had belonged to a huge statue of Louis XIV that was destroyed in the Revolution -- providing an natural segue to talk about how the French Revolution affected our own country's notions of liberty. The kids were impressed that so much history could come from a few pieces of art; then, since all that concentrated learning made us hungry, we stopped at a specialty food shop to sample some French cheese. Maybe it was the yummy bread, maybe the encouragement of the passionate young cheese monger behind the counter, but we soon had that wonderful vibe of having traveled to a new place and expanded our minds... just a tiny bit. Vive La France!
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Film:
Our Tips for Talking with your kids about this film:
Exploring French Art and Culture on your Staycation
Extended Film Suggestions for younger and older children
Notes on Cheese Tasting with Children
Age Recommendation: five and up
Time Allotment: an easy afternoon
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Adventure: