ONCE UPON A TIME:
From fairytales to fantasy adventure, takes a look at a new exhibition celebrating the best children’s films.
NE Saturday afternoon during the winter of 1988, a friend and I queued nervously outside the old ABC Cinema in Leeds. We were there to see Flowers in the Attic, the film of Virginia Andrew’s disturbing novel – a wellthumbed copy of which had already done the rounds at school. The only problem was it had been given a 15 certificate; we had just turned 14 and looked even younger.
The liberal application of bright red lipstick wasn’t enough to convince the woman at the box office. Having fluffed our bogus dates of births, she spared our blushes by politely suggesting that we might like to chose another film, which is how we came to be sitting in a largely empty auditorium watching The Princess Bride. I’d never read William Goldman’s book on which it was based, but by the time the closing credits rolled, I already knew that I would always be in debt to the British Board of Film Classification. It was and is one of my all-time favourite films. A few months later when I bought a copy of the original fairy story, it also became one of my favourite books. “Ask most people about their favourite films from their childhood and you won’t just get a list of titles, you’ll get a whole outpouring of nostalgia,” says Claire Hampton, curator of film and broadcast at the National Media Museum which has just opened a new exhibition dedicated to the children’s books which have transferred from the page to the big screen. “We were looking for an event to stage over the summer which would appeal to families and I knew Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Stories in Newcastle has a fantastic track record for staging really engaging exhibitions.
“All of a sudden it just fell into place and we decided that if we pooled our expertise we could stage a really exciting event which explored how and why children’s books
IN THE BEGINNING: Alice Liddell in profile, facing right, 1858, picture by Lewis Carroll. Alice became the inspiration for Carroll’s most famous story.