By Mei Yee
What movies come to mind when you think of teaching children kindness? Or is this not something that comes to mind at all? Children often imitate what they see. As a parent, I admit I do let my children watch movies that are enjoyable to them. However, when you look at the films, you can see the hidden meanings in them.
While many movies showcase kindness and compassion, I have selected the five below that I feel do a good job. They are also some of my favorite movies, as well as my children's.
Next Gen (2018)
Next Gen is a Netflix original movie based on the comic “7723”. The main character, Mai, loses her dad at a young age and her mother seems more interested in getting the latest robot than she is in her daughter. Mai also gets bullied at school, and the bullies out number her. Mai feels lost and alone. Therefore, she is angry all the time.
She has strong negative feelings towards robots until she meets one that she feels can help her get her revenge on the bullies. However, the robot stops her from doing that, which turns the main bully into an ally for Mai. Now having two friends, the robot, and the former bully, she has let go of her anger and seems to be a lot happier now that she doesn’t feel alone.
In this movie, a guy named Carl only ever had one friend, his wife, Ellie. They had been together since they were children, so when he lost her, his world came crumbling down. Carl stayed to himself, and no one tried to get close to him as they all just thought he was a mean old grumpy man.
They were not far off; however, due to the determination (and the fact that they were floating in the air) of a kid named Russell, he could break down Carl’s walls. No matter what Carl threw at him, Russell stayed positive and compassionate towards Carl. This film shows the unlikely friends’ scenario and how, thanks to Russell being in Carl’s life, Carl could go back to being the kind and friendly guy he was before.
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
In this one, the bullies don't change their ways. Instead, the girl, Lilo, who wants a friend, befriends an alien, Stitch. Stitch had been created with only one purpose, to destroy. Lilo sees past his flaws and tries to help him through his bouts of anger, while others are worried about Stitch. Stitch takes the things Lilo taught him to heart, and he pushes past his destructive mentality thanks to Lilo's compassion.
Their friendship transforms into them becoming family. This film shows us that first impressions are not always correct and that you should get to know someone. It also shows that a little compassion can change someone's whole view on life as Stitch is no longer destructive.
Pollyanna has a positive outlook on life, as she always tries to see the good in everything and everyone. Her parents pass away, and she ends up living with her Aunt Polly, who is more on the pessimistic side. We soon find out it seems everyone in the town is that way. She stays true to herself and remains positive and helpful. Slowly the townspeople start to change as Pollyanna's positive ways rub off on them. Things take a turn when Pollyanna falls out of a window and ends up with her legs paralyzed.
The doctor fears she may not walk again. All those in the town whose lives she touches visits her to now help cheer up. Pollyanna had fallen into a depression at the thought of not being able to walk again. The one person who was the most dismissive of her positive attitude was her aunt. This time her aunt steps up to be that cheerful person that Pollyanna needs to recover. It is at this point in the film we see that Pollyanna's kindness did affect Aunt Polly. This film shows how compassion and positivity can spread, as well as what goes around comes around.
The Lorax (2012)
This film does not focus on spreading kindness, but it does show what a lack of compassion can lead to. The Once-ler accidentally summons the Lorax when he chops down a tree. The Lorax does explain what will happen if all the trees are gone, how all the creatures living there will no longer have a home, despite knowing that the Once-ler only thinks about himself and making money. He chops down all the trees, which leads to a town built where everything is artificial.
The Once-ler does realize his mistake, but it is too late. If he had compassion in the beginning, things would not have turned out as they did. A kid, Ted, does come along to bring real trees back. The Once-ler shares his story of greed with Ted, hoping that maybe Ted can reverse the damage he had once done.
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