Movies both bring us together and bridge generational divides. They help us relate to each other and understand past eras. Great movies also shape a generation, creating a common experience. They reflect the hopes and dreams of their audiences.
Here are 10 movies to help forge connections between parents and children, or grandparents and grandchildren. They will evoke memories and provide lively topics for conversation.
Cartoons often reveal emotions kept beneath the surface. Though these children’s films were released over 30 years apart, they share a common theme: What would you give up for love?
“Lady and the Tramp,” 1955, tells of two dogs born on opposite sides of the tracks who fall in love. Pampered cocker spaniel Lady feels neglected after her humans have their first baby. Tramp, a stray, also feels abandoned by humans — he scrounges for food to get by. Would Lady give up her cushy life to be with Tramp? Would Tramp give up his freedom to be with her?
“The Little Mermaid,” 1989, introduces Ariel, a mermaid who wants to be human after falling for a human prince. Ariel must choose whether to sacrifice her beautiful voice to be with him.
These films explore social cliques and the rules people coped with while growing up. How would they resonate with today’s teens?
In “Rebel Without a Cause,” 1955, James Dean plays a teen from a middle-class family struggling with his identity and parental criticism. When he’s arrested for drunkenness, his bickering parents arrive, revealing their dysfunction. In jail, he befriends a girl who violated curfew and another troubled boy. The three develop a friendship, until they run into trouble with a gang.
A more lighthearted look at teen angst, “The Breakfast Club” (1985), follows an unlikely group suffering Saturday detention together. Although the teens are from different social cliques, they form a bond, learning they have more in common than they first thought.
Do you know how your parents first met? Maybe you should ask again.
“Marty,” 1955, introduces a middle-aged man badgered by his family to get married. His mother pushes him to go to a dance, where he meets Clara, an “old maid” abandoned by her blind date for being “plain.” Though both are deemed unattractive by society, they overcome criticism from their community and make a connection.
“When Harry Met Sally,” 1989, asks the question: Can men and women be friends? The comedy follows their friendship over the years, until it blossoms into romance. Interspersed with their love story are interviews with elderly couples telling how they first met.
Provocative for their times, these movies explore gender roles and romance. How do you think they would play to audiences today?
In “Some Like It Hot,” 1959, musicians who witnessed a mob massacre escape by dressing as women and joining an all-female band. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon star with Marilyn Monroe in a hilarious movie that questions gender stereotypes and myths about romance.
Not to be outdone for comedy, “Tootsie,” 1982, also explores gender expectations. An out-of-work actor with a bad reputation lands a soap opera gig disguised as a woman. Social norms are challenged as he navigates his new life — as a woman — while pursuing his acting career.
While these movies — released 19 years apart — are very different, they both inspire a sense of adventure. Ask your parents or grandparents about their biggest travels and adventures, and share some of yours.
Sweeping epic “Lawrence of Arabia,” 1962, is based on real-life British archaeologist and army officer T.E. Lawrence, who led the Arab Revolt against the Turks during WWI. Lawrence falls in love with the Arabian desert as he battles alongside guerrilla fighters in this iconic drama.
A different sort of archaeologist, treasure hunter Indiana Jones seeks the Ark of the Covenant in the 1981 hit “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Indiana Jones must beat the Nazis before they can harness the powers of the Ark.
Grab a bucket of popcorn and plan a fun movie night with your senior loved one. Many Brookdale Senior Living locations offer theaters that are great for group movie viewing. Visit brookdale.com to find a community near you.