BR SynchromyThis is M.’s first abstract film, and despite his protests that he didn’t want to watch something abstract, he actually quite enjoyed it. Both the animation and the music are by Scottish/Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren, with the music directly derived from the shapes on the film. M. kept saying: “It’s magic! It’s magic!” I asked him if the shapes made him think of anything, and he said the teeth on the shovel of a backhoe digger – though he’s particularly prone to thinking of backhoe diggers these days, so it may remind you and/or your child of something else! I’m suggesting this for ages 3+ because it is fairly fast-paced, but some people might enjoy it for younger kids too.

Age: 3+
Child rating: 8/10
Adult rating: 8/10
Running time: 7 minutes
Available free on the National Film Board of Canada website


Ivor the Engine

If your child likes trains, and you’re trying to keep Thomas the Tank Engine out of the house, I’d highly recommend Ivor the Engine instead! This is another great Oliver Postgate/Peter Firmin production from the 70’, set in Wales. It features lots of sweet stories of village life. The music, by Vernon Elliot, is pleasant and well-composed, and features bassoon.

Age: 2 1/2+
Child rating: 10/10
Adult rating: 10/10
Running time: 1950s episodes are 10 minutes, 1970s episodes are 5 minutes
Some episodes available free on Youtube