My early years were spent in the 80’s and like most kids I had some favorite movies. These movies catered to my love of fantasy and magic. Even today, I watch them with my kids on DVD in hopes they feel inspired by the stories. These are in no particular order.
- The Last Unicorn
Based on the novel of the same name by Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn follows a lonely unicorn who sets out on an extraordinary quest to find her lost brothers and sisters. Along the way she meets a colorful cast of characters, including a bumbling wizard who magically transforms her into a beautiful damsel. When a handsome prince falls in love with her, he challenges the evil foe who holds her captive. But the task proves harder than imagined, and the unicorn soon discovers that real magic comes from believing in the impossible. Unicorns have always been my favorite and The Last Unicorn captured my heart straight away. I was mesmerized by the animation style, storybook feel of the characters, and strong female lead (the unicorn).
- The Dark Crystal
Travel back in time to the faraway planet of Thra. Cheer on the Mystics as they fight to overthrow the evil Skeksis and take back control of their planet! When Jen, a member of the Gelfling tribe, sets out to find the crystal’s missing shard, his dangerous journey brings him face to face with monsters at every turn. Determined to restore peace to their planet, Jen will not back down! From the brilliant imagination of Jim Henson, this masterpiece of animation recounts the timeless tale of good vs. evil and has become a cult favorite of children and grown-ups alike! This was the movie I constantly rented from the video store (remember those?) until my parents banned it. I loved the world building and the creatures and the underdog story of Jen trying to overcome great challenged. I loved Kira too and often pretended I was her and I had wings.
- The NeverEnding Story
Bastian is a young boy who lives a dreary life being tormented by school bullies. On one such occasion he escapes into a book shop where the old proprietor reveals an ancient storybook to him, which he is warned can be dangerous. Shortly after, he ‘borrows’ the book and begins to read it in the school attic where he is drawn into the mythical land of Fantasia, which desperately needs a hero to save it from destruction. I was pretty invisible in school so I could relate to Bastian. I wanted to read all day in an attic and get sucked into the story. Who doesn’t want to be part of a grand adventure through the pages of a good book and ride a dragon?
Babysitting infant stepbrother Toby on a weekend night isn’t young Sarah’s idea of fun. Frustrated by his crying, she secretly imagines the Goblins from her favorite book, Labyrinth, carrying Toby away. When her fantasy comes true, a distraught Sarah must enter a maze of illusion to bring Toby back from a kingdom inhabited by mystical creatures and governed by the wicked Goblin King. I think the appeal here was the Goblin King’s unrequited love and again the immersion into an unknown fantasy realm. No, if you can ignore the King Jareth’s cod piece and remember that it was the 80’s it’s pretty awesome flick. The final showdown breaks my heart a little. He just wants someone to love…
- Princess Bride
A lowly stable boy, Westley, pledges his love to the beautiful Buttercup, only to be abducted and reportedly killed by pirates while Buttercup is betrothed to the evil Prince Humperdinck. Even as Buttercup herself is kidnapped by a giant, a scheming criminal mastermind, and a master Spanish swordsman, a mysterious masked pirate (could it be Westley?) follows in pursuit. As they sail toward the Cliffs of Insanity… I think we managed to record this on VHS off the TV or I may never have watched it as a kid. I remember skipping the kid and grandfather scenes to know more about Westley and Buttercup. It also gave me some plot bunnies about pirates.
And that’s my top 5 favorite movies from the 80’s. Have you seen any of these? What did you think? Do you have a favorite movie I didn’t mention here? Let me know!