The perfect children’s film: a Western with aliens, Moses and true love

Few things inspire children more than movies, so what are the favourite childhood films of actors, directors and producers at the Cinemagic festival?

Actor and writer

What was your favourite film as a child ?
My favourite film was El Cid . I recall vividly a Christmas Day showing on RT É in one- channel land, and there was Charlton Heston, aka Moses, being a brilliant warrior who still fought the enemy when he was dead and who was strapped to a horse as his reputation was so feared. I played out as El Cid in the street for years after that.

What film would your childhood self have made?
I made many cowboy films in my back -garden film set, using two local actors, aged six and seven, like me. I always played Sitting Bull, the great chief, and all my story lines had the N ative Americans winning. I was obviously already politically aware at seven. The down trodden Native American won the day in my epic films. John Wayne? P ah! L oser.


What was your favourite film as a child, and why?
It is very difficult to pick out just one, as there were so many that I loved while I was growing up: Mary Poppins , Bedknobs & Broomsticks , The Wizard of Oz and Edward Scissorhands , to name but a few. W hen I was slightly older, I was obsessed with Pretty Woman and Dirty Dancing . I could probably still recite the latter from start to finish.

I f I were to choose just one it would have to be Rob Reiner's The Princess Bride . I must have seen it 100 times. I watched it again last year , and it still stands the test of time, with a fantastic story, brilliant characters and cracking dialogue. It has everything: adventure, romance, comedy, unforgettable one-liners and something all young girls dream of finding: true love.

What film would your childhood self have made?
Both my parents and my English teacher at school firmly embedded within me my love of Shakespeare. I still find that the themes from most stories that are told can be found in his works, so my film would have definitely been inspired by his writing.

I also loved fantasy , so I think my film would have been set in a mysterious magical land, and I travelled a lot as a child, so my film would have probably been set in another country. It would have had adventure and triumph over adversity, the bad guys would have got their comeuppance, and the two characters who fell in love would have definitely found each other in the end.


What was your favourite film as a child ?
Whistle Down the Wind , with Alan Bates and Hayley Mills. A man is discovered by three children in a barn on their remote farm in Lancashire. The children, influenced by Bible stories at their local Sunday school, believe he's Jesus Christ. Jesus is in fact a fugitive on the run, played magnificently by Alan Bates. I can still remember the first time I saw the film and the heartbreak I felt watching the last scene, when Bates, whom I had fallen in love with, is arrested for murder . I loved its mixture of realism and magic. It gets me every time.

What film would your childhood self have made?
Up until the age of 12 I'd probably have made a W estern. I adored them: t he sweep of the landscape, the freedom, the colour, the light. I would have told the story from the Native Americans' point of view, probably, and made the local sheriff a woman. It would have been a mixture of The Searchers and One-Eyed Jacks .


From 12 to 16 I'd have made a film in New York, with Marlon Brando as a misfit . I discovered him when I was 13, so, probably, Marlon Brando, in some kind of trouble, meets Anna Magnani in a New York tenement. They talk . . . he listens . . . she listens. That's as far as I ever got.


What was your favourite film as a child ?
The film I most fondly remember was Sinbad a nd t he Eye o f t he Tiger . I was off school with a cold, staying with my n an, when she took me to the Hemel Hempstead Odeon. I was entranced by the story and Ray Harryhausen's effects. I also remember ET , but for all the wrong reasons. It was the first time I had seen my d ad cry ; there was this tough rugby player reduced to tears by a little alien.

What film would your childhood self have made?
As a kid I was a bit of a prankster and used to take inspiration from Norman Wisdom, the old Carry On films and St Trinian's.

The Coca-Cola Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival runs in Dublin until tomorrow; its under-12s festival runs from June 8th to 12th