Rhiannon Bannenberg: 6 Favourite Family Films

September 23, 2017
The director of Rip Tide harks back to the family films that shaped her.

Little Women (1994)

Directed by Gillian Armstrong

If I had to choose just one film, my favourite film of all time, this would have to be it. This is probably the first film that made me think ‘I want to tell stories and I want to make movies’. Little Women has a unique ability to make me feel incredibly nostalgic for a.) An era that was over a century before I was born and b.) for my own childhood and family. The wonderfully nuanced performances, stirring soundtrack by Thomas Newman and interactions between characters makes for an idealised portrayal of sisterhood along with the complex emotions and challenges of growing up, irrespective of which century. It is a powerful story that pulls all my sentimental heart strings and leaves me feeling a stronger connection to the ones I love. It also ignites a spirited determination to continue to pursue my passions and to work in film. Earlier this year, I chose to watch this film on the eve of my wedding with my closest friends, I also referenced it in my wedding speech. So, I guess you could say it’s been pretty influential!

The Secret Garden (1993)

Directed by Agnieszka Holland

I can’t remember much of my life before seeing this film. The Secret Garden was a household staple and I watched this throughout my childhood/teen years with my younger sister. This was the first film I saw that captured a melancholy that was alluring and pleasurable in a thoughtful and reflective way. Everything in this film is steeped in a mysterious grandeur from the tapestries hanging across secret doorways, to the music, cinematography and haunting memories of a happier time. I always loved that it was an innocent but brave little girl that brought life back to a locked up garden and grown-up world that had been trapped in the cold shadows of grief.

The Man From Snowy River (1982)

Directed by George T. Miller

During my early teens, I watched this film many times over, drawn to the wild snowy mountain scenery, thrilling horse riding sequences and epic romance. It also fuelled my unwavering determination to own a horse and to ride, which I was fortunate enough to do. Nature and the elements have their own law, and they have a rugged beauty that can be volatile and this was palpable in the film. The music quickly became one of my favourite soundtracks and I loved to play ‘Jessica’s Theme’ on the piano.

Ever After (1998)

Directed by Andy Tennant

Ever After masterfully weaves touches of historical detail (Leonardo Da Vinci) with the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale to make this portrayal feel real enough for you to delight in the hope it really did happen. The progressive social ideology explored in the story makes it so much more than a retelling of Cinderella, which incidentally has been retold in many cultures for many centuries originating in China – which explains the significance of the small feet. The clever, eloquent and virtuous Danielle quickly became one of my favourite movie characters, if not for her masterful sword fighting, her compelling and enlightened attitude to life. Like Jo March in Little Women, Danielle reminded me of the independent, clever and kind women I knew in my own life and solidified in my mind the stories I wanted to tell.

Storm Boy (1976)

Directed By Henri Safran

This is an Australian story set by the sea, which resonates with me as I grew up near the beach and it contrasts with the more typical Australian stories that are often set in the bush. I don’t know when I first saw Storm Boy, but I do know that every time I see a pelican, I say ‘Look! It’s Mr Percival!’

A Knight’s Tale (2001)

Directed by Brian Helgeland 

Told with endearing humour and warmth, this is a great all-rounder and never falls short of making me laugh and cry. History, romance, adventure and the concept that you have the power to change your stars, the story of William Thatcher is cleverly portrayed through historical and ultra-reality pop culture references. I just loved the integration of Queen and David Bowie with Carter Burwell’s orchestral score and the manner in which Brian Helgeland made a story set in Medieval Europe so accessible and enjoyable to a young audience.

Rip Tide is in cinemas now.

Read our Rip Tide review.

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