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¶ Children left to their own devices: films with little or no grownup presence or parental guidance

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¶ Children left to their own devices: films with little or no grownup presence or parental guidance

#1

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

Parental Guidance? Never heard of it!

I want to compile a list of films and for this I need your help. I'm looking for films that create a world where you would think that somehow grownups don't even exist. Or documentaries (which are also more than welcome) that are so focused on children that grownups are pretty much completely out of the picture and don't guide the action too much.

Here is my small preliminary list to get the ball rolling and to perhaps give you a better idea of the kind of films I have in mind:

https://letterboxd.com/systematicer/lis ... ces-films/

I have my own particular ideas of the kind of films I want to see in the list but I don't want to be too restrictive right off the bat, let's just see what you guys and gals come up with. Quality isn't a condition (you can think the film is bad) and the more obscure the better.
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#2

Post by Onderhond »

Starry, Starry Night
It
Children of the Sea
High & Low (representing this entire niche really, I guess the Crows Zero film count too - unless you think these "kids" are too old)
Canary

There are also a lot of Japanese high school dramas (films & series) that cut out most of the adult stuff, but I don't think you're talking about those films.
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#3

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

Onderhond wrote: July 22nd, 2021, 6:10 pm There are also a lot of Japanese high school dramas (films & series) that cut out most of the adult stuff, but I don't think you're talking about those films.
I'm thinking strikingly of prepubescent kids with this. So, like, up to fourth or fifth grade, most of what's above that would already be too far removed from that infantile and "carefree" mindset. Back when something like romance in any adult sense usually isn't part of the equation yet. You can think of the kids in "South Park" as the dividing line.
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#4

Post by Onderhond »

I honestly never really watched South Park :D

But yeah, then High & Low doesn't really fit I guess (though it is one of the most adult-less films of the bunch. The others should still be quite alright.
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#5

Post by Torgo »

hehe, first pick off the top of my head would be Nobody Knows.
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#7

Post by zzzorf »

I'm going to have a better think about this later but would movies like Children of the corn and Who Can Kill a Child? work.
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#8

Post by 3eyes »

Bimujang jidae / The demilitarized zone (S Korea 65)
Hotaru no haka / Grave of the fireflies (Japan 88)
Angelochek sdelay radost / Little angel, make me happy (Turkmenistan 93)
Lakposhtha parvaz mikonand / Turtles can fly (Iran 04)
Jeux interdits (Fr 52)
Les grandes Grandes Vacances (Fr 2015- (TV series)
Son of Rambow (UK 07)
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#9

Post by cinewest »

Are talking about films where children have to pretty much fend for themselves, or films where adults are just left out of the picture?
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#10

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

zzzorf wrote: July 22nd, 2021, 9:41 pm I'm going to have a better think about this later but would movies like Children of the corn and Who Can Kill a Child? work.
Lot's of children in those films without parental supervision alright, but they both are from the point of view of (the hunted) grownups. But OK, I'll add them. They only clearly break one of the conditions that I have in mind, and most of the films on the list break one or the other.

Those conditions, by the way, are something like:
-Children are the protagonists.
-As mentioned, children=up to 12 years of age. With larger groups I don't mind if some of them are considerably older.
-More on the realistic, slice-of-life side of things.
-Preferably films not totally geared toward an infantile audience. They should be watchable for most grownups without having a hemorrhage.
-At least two children interacting with each other. So no lone child protagonist going on some adventure or dreaming up a fantastical world.
-Minimal grownup presence. And any grownups that do appear remain relatively ineffectual, don't have much authoritative power or just don't care much about telling them what to do.
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#11

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

3eyes wrote: July 22nd, 2021, 9:46 pm Bimujang jidae / The demilitarized zone (S Korea 65)
Hotaru no haka / Grave of the fireflies (Japan 88)
Angelochek sdelay radost / Little angel, make me happy (Turkmenistan 93)
Lakposhtha parvaz mikonand / Turtles can fly (Iran 04)
Jeux interdits (Fr 52)
Les grandes Grandes Vacances (Fr 2015- (TV series)
Son of Rambow (UK 07)
Nice "children in war" theme you got going there. :)
We're very much on the same page, though. And some of those are new to me, so that's cool. 'The Demilitarized Zone' looks pretty interesting.
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#12

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

cinewest wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 12:13 am Are talking about films where children have to pretty much fend for themselves, or films where adults are just left out of the picture?
Certainly more the latter. The children could live under perfectly regular circumstances but the film just chooses to focus on the moments where no parents or other grownups are around. On the other hand, if it is a film where children have to actively fend for themselves then the occasional presence of probably rather unauthoritative grownups or grownups who themselves are pretty childish and incompetent (like in 'Nobody Knows') doesn't carry too much weight overall.
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#13

Post by zzzorf »

Ok so here are some thoughts. Most probably won't be used because they don't fully meet your criteria (mostly the age one & that my memory is a bit fuzzier on others) but I'm still chucking them out there:

The Blue Lagoon
Stand by Me
Friends (1971)
Not one Less
Maladolescenza
Walkabout
Innocence
Davandeh
Bayerns O
Amateur Teens
Last edited by zzzorf on July 23rd, 2021, 6:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#14

Post by cinewest »

Perception de Ambiguity wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 5:23 am
cinewest wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 12:13 am Are talking about films where children have to pretty much fend for themselves, or films where adults are just left out of the picture?
Certainly more the latter. The children could live under perfectly regular circumstances but the film just chooses to focus on the moments where no parents or other grownups are around. On the other hand, if it is a film where children have to actively fend for themselves then the occasional presence of probably rather unauthoritative grownups or grownups who themselves are pretty childish and incompetent (like in 'Nobody Knows') doesn't carry too much weight overall.
Yeah, o was thinking of Nobody Knows and others in this vein when I asked the question.

I’ve seen quite a few very good dramas about children, overall, so I’ll try to cull a list. May take a little while, though, as there really isn’t. Category on IMDb that I can use to track them down, since they aren’t really movies for kids.
Is there a particular age range you are thinking of? Under 18, pre-teen, etc? And should I ignore those others have mentioned or give them a second thumbs up?
Last edited by cinewest on July 23rd, 2021, 6:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#15

Post by Kublai Khan »

Pihu (2017)
Kids (1995)
Thirteen (2003)
The Florida Project (2017)
Capernaum (or Capharnaüm) (2018)
Vuelven {aka Tigers Are Not Afraid} (2017)
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#16

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

cinewest wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 6:22 am Is there a particular age range you are thinking of? Under 18, pre-teen, etc?
Pre-teen. I'm thinking of 12 as the upper limit. Above that films are typically already treading on coming-of-age territory. There's no shortage of those films.
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#17

Post by cinewest »

The first bunch you have probably seen, but scroll down and I'm sure you will find a bunch that you haven't

Amarcord (seen through the eyes of a kid)
Los Olvidados
Time of the Gypsies
Savrseni Krug (The Perfect Circle)- another war time survival film
The Return - Two brothers on a trip with their father, but the focus is on the boys
The White Ribbon- largely about the children in a German village, but told through the eyes of an adult
The Tin Drum - another war time story seen through the eyes of a child
Roma
Landscape in the Mist
Ivan's Childhood
Together (more of a family focus than just on the kids)
Pather Panchali
Spirit of the Beehive
Fanny and Alexander
City of God
Pixote
Frozen (Shivajee Chandrabhushan)- this may be hard to find, as well as distinguish from other films having the same title, but it's well worth your search
Estiu 1993
Casa Grande
Moonrise Kingdom
400 Blows
Pan's Labyrinth
Central Station
Jestem (I Am)- well worth searching for
War Witch
Jia nian hua
I'm not a witch
I'm Not Scared
Cria Cuervos
Lord of the flies
To Kill a Mockingbird (seen through the eyes of a child)
The Squid and the Whale (again, more of a family drama)
Stolen Children
Salaam Bombay
Oliver Twist
Secrets of the Heart (another unknown gem)
Color of Paradise (there are a bunch of very good films about children from Iran)
innocent Voices (family through war seen through the eyes of a child)
Koktebel
Respiro
Lore
Dogtooth
turtles can fly
summer of '42
Capernaum
My Life as a Dog
King of Thieves
The Italian
The Runner
In A Better World (mixed child/adult)
Ali Zaoua, Prince of the streets
Kes
VAlentin
MAchuca
Kid on a bike
In Bloom
Sammy Going South
A High Wind in Jamaica (through the eyes of a child)
Colors of the mountain
Inside Out
Slumdog Millionaire
Times and Winds
Yaaba
Wo 11
Village of Dreams
Mirage
La Lengua de las Mariposas
Bal
The Seen and Unseen
La Promesse
Beasts of no nation
The Cave of the Yellow Dog
Innocence
Le château de ma mère
Spellbound
La fille seule
O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias
Golemata voda
Yeo-haeng-ja
Eighth Grade
Nobody Knows
Born Into Brothels
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#18

Post by cinewest »

Perception de Ambiguity wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 6:48 am
cinewest wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 6:22 am Is there a particular age range you are thinking of? Under 18, pre-teen, etc?
Pre-teen. I'm thinking of 12 as the upper limit. Above that films are typically already treading on coming-of-age territory. There's no shortage of those films.
I tried to remove the high school bordering on adulthood ones, but there are still some that are early teens... maybe 14 and under
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#19

Post by peeptoad »

Perception de Ambiguity wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 5:16 am -At least two children interacting with each other. So no lone child protagonist going on some adventure or dreaming up a fantastical world.
peeptoad wrote: July 22nd, 2021, 9:12 pm The Black Stallion
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#20

Post by 3eyes »

OK, then: Mongolian ping pong /lu cao di (China 2005). There are clueless adults aplenty, but the children's diligient quest to find out what the stray ping pong ball found floating in a stream is for sustains the whole movie, with much ingenuity. The reveal at the end is priceless. So is the rest. See it!
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#21

Post by jal90 »

I think the three movies of Made in Abyss fit (and the TV series). They start with adult guidance, but the kids soon leave it to go on an adventure.

There's a lot of anime stuff that fits, actually: 5 centimeters per second (the first story at least), A letter to Momo, Castle in the sky, Cat soup, Grave of the fireflies, Magical sisters Yoyo and Nene, Mai Mai Miracle, Mary and the witch's flower, Night on the Galactic Railroad, Origin: Spirits of the past, Patema inverted, Princess Arete, Tekkon Kinkreet, When Marnie was there, the Cardcaptor Sakura movies (and the series of course), the Madoka Magica trilogy and series.

A lot of Ghibli stuff actually like Spirited away, My neighbor Totoro or Whisper of the heart: there's certainly parental presence and some adult guidance but it's not like the driving force of the narrative.

Some are up to 14-15, so maybe they should not be up for consideration, but I think most fit the prepubescent label.
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#22

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

zzzorf wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 6:20 am Ok so here are some thoughts. Most probably won't be used because they don't fully meet your criteria (mostly the age one & that my memory is a bit fuzzier on others) but I'm still chucking them out there:

The Blue Lagoon
Stand by Me
Friends (1971)
Not one Less
Maladolescenza
Walkabout
Innocence
Davandeh
Bayerns O
Amateur Teens
Some good ones, thanks. What's "Bayerns O"? I can't find that.
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#23

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

Kublai Khan wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 6:34 am Pihu (2017)
Kids (1995)
Thirteen (2003)
The Florida Project (2017)
Capernaum (or Capharnaüm) (2018)
Vuelven {aka Tigers Are Not Afraid} (2017)
Pihu - One kid on its own, those I avoided putting on the list so far. This looks too good to pass up, though. And it gets mad bonus points for the kid being only two years old. I guess eventually I'll have to add stuff like 'Ponette', Svankmajer's 'Alice' & 'Down to the Cellar', 'The Wolf House', 'Long Live the Republic' (1965), at least reserved for the later ranks. And I had already added 'Nana' (2011) from the beginning which has a similar premise to 'Pihu' witch a lone 4-year-old and there even are a few scenes with grownups.
Good catch on 'Vuelven'.
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#24

Post by zzzorf »

Perception de Ambiguity wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 4:20 pm
zzzorf wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 6:20 am Ok so here are some thoughts. Most probably won't be used because they don't fully meet your criteria (mostly the age one & that my memory is a bit fuzzier on others) but I'm still chucking them out there:

The Blue Lagoon
Stand by Me
Friends (1971)
Not one Less
Maladolescenza
Walkabout
Innocence
Davandeh
Bayerns O
Amateur Teens
Some good ones, thanks. What's "Bayerns O"? I can't find that.
Sorry that should read Barnens O
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#25

Post by 3eyes »

Bekas (Sweden 12 - in Kurdish)
Saz Dahani / Harmonica (Iran 74)

The railway children (UK 70)
Emil und die Detektive (Ger 31)
The secret garden (several versions)
Whistle down the wind (UK 61)
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#26

Post by Fergenaprido »

Looking at your letterboxd list, I would remove Abrir puertas y ventanas, as the three protagonists are all in their late teens, if not early twenties.

And you have the 1990 version of Lord of the Flies, so might as well add the earlier version from the 1960s.

I haven't seen them, but I think The Boxcar Children and Five Children and It fit the theme.

I also found these links online that might help.
https://www.reddit.com/r/MovieSuggestio ... ut_adults/ (includes Bugsy Malone, which I think has only kids, but in adult roles).
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ ... reNoAdults
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#27

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

cinewest wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 8:42 am The first bunch you have probably seen, but scroll down and I'm sure you will find a bunch that you haven't

[...]
Thanks for this very extensive list. A lot of those were new to me. I went through them thoroughly and added a bunch of them to the list.
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#28

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

3eyes wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 12:26 pm OK, then: Mongolian ping pong /lu cao di (China 2005). There are clueless adults aplenty, but the children's diligient quest to find out what the stray ping pong ball found floating in a stream is for sustains the whole movie, with much ingenuity. The reveal at the end is priceless. So is the rest. See it!
OK! I can't say no to throat singing (as heard in the trailer).
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#29

Post by Perception de Ambiguity »

jal90 wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 2:13 pm I think the three movies of Made in Abyss fit (and the TV series). They start with adult guidance, but the kids soon leave it to go on an adventure.

There's a lot of anime stuff that fits, actually: 5 centimeters per second (the first story at least), A letter to Momo, Castle in the sky, Cat soup, Grave of the fireflies, Magical sisters Yoyo and Nene, Mai Mai Miracle, Mary and the witch's flower, Night on the Galactic Railroad, Origin: Spirits of the past, Patema inverted, Princess Arete, Tekkon Kinkreet, When Marnie was there, the Cardcaptor Sakura movies (and the series of course), the Madoka Magica trilogy and series.

A lot of Ghibli stuff actually like Spirited away, My neighbor Totoro or Whisper of the heart: there's certainly parental presence and some adult guidance but it's not like the driving force of the narrative.

Some are up to 14-15, so maybe they should not be up for consideration, but I think most fit the prepubescent label.
Sure, there are scores of them that qualify but I'm kind of apprehensive about flooding the list with animated films and with anime in particular. Often they are very fantastical and the average anime character kind of looks like an eight-year-old but often their behavior isn't all that child-like. And when it comes to anthropomorphized animal characters and various other fantasy creatures things get even more messy. But I added the first Made in Abyss, Tekkon Kinkreet, Mai Mai Miracle, Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbor Totoro. I also added Welcome to the Space Show, Kid's Story (from The Animatrix), Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, Azumanga Daioh and Haibane Renmei.
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#30

Post by jal90 »

Perception de Ambiguity wrote: July 24th, 2021, 9:07 pm
jal90 wrote: July 23rd, 2021, 2:13 pm I think the three movies of Made in Abyss fit (and the TV series). They start with adult guidance, but the kids soon leave it to go on an adventure.

There's a lot of anime stuff that fits, actually: 5 centimeters per second (the first story at least), A letter to Momo, Castle in the sky, Cat soup, Grave of the fireflies, Magical sisters Yoyo and Nene, Mai Mai Miracle, Mary and the witch's flower, Night on the Galactic Railroad, Origin: Spirits of the past, Patema inverted, Princess Arete, Tekkon Kinkreet, When Marnie was there, the Cardcaptor Sakura movies (and the series of course), the Madoka Magica trilogy and series.

A lot of Ghibli stuff actually like Spirited away, My neighbor Totoro or Whisper of the heart: there's certainly parental presence and some adult guidance but it's not like the driving force of the narrative.

Some are up to 14-15, so maybe they should not be up for consideration, but I think most fit the prepubescent label.
Sure, there are scores of them that qualify but I'm kind of apprehensive about flooding the list with animated films and with anime in particular. Often they are very fantastical and the average anime character kind of looks like an eight-year-old but often their behavior isn't all that child-like. And when it comes to anthropomorphized animal characters and various other fantasy creatures things get even more messy. But I added the first Made in Abyss, Tekkon Kinkreet, Mai Mai Miracle, Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbor Totoro. I also added Welcome to the Space Show, Kid's Story (from The Animatrix), Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, Azumanga Daioh and Haibane Renmei.
Fair enough :), and yes, your list would be flooded with animation quite easily (a lot of parentless kids in cartoons), so it's nice to set limits.
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