A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the very young may find a few scenes emotionally intense. Kids will see Heidi left with a gruff grandfather who says he doesn't want her. And she'll see her grandmother waste away and die. Originally shown in two parts, the nearly three-hour movie might best be seen in a couple of sittings so everyone can rest up for the heart-wrenching finale.
What's the story?
In this 1993 retelling of Johanna Spyri's beloved children's story (Heidi), eight-year-old orphan Heidi (Noley Thornton) is left in the care of her grandfather (Jason Robards), an angry, bitter man living in the Swiss Alps with only his goats for company. Said to be half-crazy since the death of the girl's parents, which he blames himself for, he nevertheless takes good care of the granddaughter thrust on him. Just as the two are growing close, Heidi is whisked off again, this time to an elegant Frankfurt home to be with Klara (Lexi Randall), a sickly, desperately lonely girl. In spite of their friendship and the opportunities Klara's family provides, Heidi pines for her mountain home, and is in danger of wasting away if she isn't returned to her beloved grandfather and his modest way of life.
Is it any good?
Made by Disney for cable, this Golden Globe nominee is a touching adaptation boasting lots of beautiful scenery and some fine performances. This is family entertainment at its best, but the very young may find a few scenes emotionally intense.
Jane Seymour overdoes it a bit as Fräulein Rottenmeier, the uptight governess, but young Noley Thornton more than makes up for it. She was a great choice for the role of Heidi -- sweet without being sticky. Young children may find the beginning daunting, when Heidi is left in the care of her gruff, nasty grandfather (Jason Robards, in another good performance). There are other emotional moments as well. One, in which Heidi's beloved grandmother slips away, does a good job of addressing death as a natural and inevitable occurrence, something not to be feared.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about "stock characters." Can you name other characters like the grandfather, who hides his tender emotions under gruff exterior? What sort of emotional reaction did you have to the grandfather? Was it similar to other characters of this ilk? What do you think this sort of "stock character" is used to achieve in films and stories?
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