E.T., Super 8 and Hugo all show just how courageous and brave children can be, fighting for what they believe in, taking risks and creating their very own adventure.
One of the most captivating and wonderful aspects of films that feature a young person going on a quest is their expression of pluck and irrepressible human spirit. The upcoming Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close features a very small boy, who goes on a very big adventure indeed. Directed by Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) the drama sees little Oskar (Thomas Horn) on a quest to discover the mystery behind a key he found in his father’s room. His father, who died in 9/11, always encouraged his son to take risks, which motivates Oskar to embark on his adventurous mission alone. Along the way he faces his fears and strengthens his curiosity and bravery. The film has been nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Max von Sydow.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – which also stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock – comes to cinemas on the 17th February.
But who is the bravest young adventurer of them all? We have put together a list of films, featuring some of the greatest of young quests.
1. Free Willy (1993) This family fun film, directed by Simon Wincer, is known for its heart-warming, yet epic plot; the cheesy American movie still remains a well-loved title, even to this day. Starring Jason James Richter (Cops & Robbersons, Sabrina the Teenage Witch) Free Willy tells the tale of 12-year-old Jesse who befriends a killer whale before helping him escape to the sea. It was a huge box office success and the famous scene of Willy jumping over the rocks and into the sea, has been spoofed many times. Due to its popularity and success, two sequels were made, which also starred Richter.
2. Where The Wild Things Are (2009) We all know how active our imaginations were when we were kids, but in Where the Wild Things Are, nine-year-old Max (Max Records) creates and then escapes to his very own magical land where nobody can hurt or upset him. He befriends a group of huge hairy creatures and becomes their leader. Together, they embark on an adventure, where Max has to take responsibility and make adult decisions. However, he soon learns how tough it is to be an adult. The film was received well; Entertainment Weekly described it as "one of the year's best', while the New York Times wrote that Spike Jonze's "filmmaking exceeds anything he’s done'. The magical film is based on Maurice Sendak's 1963 children's picture book of the same name.
3. Alice in Wonderland (2010) The magical land which Alice stumbles into is full of strange talking creatures and abnormally big plants. Originally a 1865 children's novel written by Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland has been adapted into more than 15 films, as well as video games and music scores. However, every adaptation portrays Alice as a young, brave and curious girl who has a very peculiar adventure, where she meets new friends and defeats enemies along the way. The 2010 adaptation was 'Burtonised' by director Tim Burton; it starred Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Mia Wasikowska as Alice, who ventures into Wonderland once again, on a brave mission to single-handedly slay the evil Jabberwocky dragon.
4. Home Alone (1990) If only we could have a burglar alarm system which was half as good as mischievous Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. This American Christmas comedy sees 8-year-old Kevin McCallister fend off buck-toothed burglars by using imaginative traps. He has an adventure without even leaving the house. The film topped the box office charts for 12 weeks and has been listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the highest grossing live-action comedy ever.
5. Oliver! (1968) Dicken's novel has had many screen and stage adaptations, but one of the most popular is Carol Reed's version starring Ron Moody as Fagin and Mark Lester as Oliver. Oliver's adventure takes him through the streets of London where he learns to fend for himself along with his pick-pocket pals. It was very well received, with the New Yorker describing it as 'one of the few film versions of a stage musical that was superior to the original show'.
6. Hugo (2011) Adapted from Brian Selznick's novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, this adventure drama tells the tale of a young boy who lives alone in Paris' train station where he operates the clocks. Hugo (Ben Kingsley) is an curious and inquisitive character who finds himself venturing around Paris to reveal the mystery behind a famous film maker. This Martin Scorsese direction was in loads of 2011 Top Ten lists including The New Yorker, Ain't It Cool News, Chicago Sun Times and The Hollywood Reporter. It was selected for the Royal Film Performance 2011; the screening in London was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
7. Flight of the Navigator (1986) This children's sci fi sees 12-year-old David Freeman (Joey Cramer) travel through time in an alien spacecraft - surely every young boy's idea of fun? Directed by Randal Kleiser (Honey, I Blew Up the Kids) this film sees young David on an intergalactic adventure, journeying through time and space in order to return home after aliens abducted him and sent him to the wrong time zone. It was a popular kids' film back in the eighties and still remains a much loved children's classic today, scoring an impressive 78% on Rotten Tomatoes. Another well loved sci-fi child-quest movie is A.I. starring Haley Joel Osment as David, a child-like android robot programmed to love. The robot sets out to find the Blue Fairy who David believes can turn him into a human. It was nominated for AFI's top 10 science fiction films as well as receiving a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
8. Annie (1982) Orphans don't come more enthusiastic, adventurous and stubborn as little Annie in this musical film directed by John Huston and choreographed by Oliver Award winner, Arlene Phillips (Grease, We Will Rock You). Cheeky, freckle face Annie (Aileen Quinn) escapes from her orphanage in search of her parents who she believes left her behind. All by herself, the young girl ventures through New York's busy streets, dodging trouble and rescuing Sandy the dog. Various film adaptations and stage shows have been made of this classic story; this Eighties film version received numerous Academy Award nominations for Best Music and Best Adaptation Score.
9. The Golden Compass (2007) Based on Philip Pullman's Dark Material novels, this fantasy adventure sees young Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards) on a voyage to battle the forces of evil and rescue a group of children who have been abducted and are being held hostage in the far north. But how could a young girl possibly get to the freezing North Pole alone? By riding a huge talking polar bear, of course. Directed by Chris Weitz, this film - also starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig - was the highest grossing non-sequel of 2007. It also won a BAFTA for Special Visual Effects and an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
10. James and the Giant Peach If you thought riding a polar bear was adventurous, one small boy embarks on an exciting journey, where he flies through the skies riding a giant peach, carried by seagulls and accompanied by oversized bugs. Based on Roald Dahl's book of the same name, the film is a mixture of live action and stop animation. The Tim Burton production won Best Animated Feature Film at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.