There is something so indescribably magical about being a child. Shakespeare wrote plays about it, Blake wrote poems about it, Lewis Carroll wrote books about it, and now filmmakers are making films about it. Intangible though it is, the essence of childhood has been a source of both vexation and inspiration for philosophers and artists alike.
When we see children playing, or doing something we might have done at their age, the temptation is to envy them. People say to one another “it was simpler back then” and “they don’t have a care in the world”, while all the time thinking about the mortgage they have to pay or pressures they have at work. We create a connection with the child in our minds, and allow the foggy pink mist of nostalgia to cloud our judgement.
Childhood is not easy.
Being a child is very, very hard. Things are not “simpler”, they are more confusing. True, a child is unlikely to be concerned by a mortgage, but they worry about a lot of things which seem so trivial to adults; who should I play with? Where should I sit at lunch? Small things are very important.
This year, Bath Film Festival is screening two films which highlight this perfectly in contrasting ways.
For those of you who are fans of French cinema, La Petit Nicolas is definitely worth a watch. Based on a novel by Rene Goscinny, creator of Asterix & Obelix, it follows the misadventures of young Nicolas who, after a series of unfortunate misunderstandings, believe that his parents are trying to get rid of him. With a great sense of humour and a wonderful ensemble cast, it will leave you laughing and smiling for days.
If you are looking for something more grounded in fact, then I Am Eleven is the film for you. Winner of the Outstanding Achievement in Documentary Filmmaking Award at Newport Beach Film Festival, this is a fascinating examination of life, the universe and everything, from the mouths of eleven year old children across the globe.