Has your little one got train fever? There’s something irresistible about the whistle of the locomotive, the accompanying puff of smoke and the chug-chug-chug of the wheels as they make their way down the track. These wonderful vehicles appeal to imaginations both young and old.
Fortunately, Hollywood has captured that magic and translated it onto the silver screen many times over. So the next time you’re looking for a movie to watch with your children, pop on one of these five suggestions and bring out their inner stationmaster. All aboard!
The Little Engine That Could
Initially published in 1930, it’s no surprise that this timeless classic was included at number 38 on a 2007 poll for Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children. Indeed, it’s such a perennial favourite that it’s been made into a feature length film many times over, most recently in 2011, and never fails to enthral little ones with its vibrant colours and compelling story.
As well as entertaining youngsters for a good 83 minutes (a godsend for parents), it also teaches them valuable life lessons about hard work, self-belief and the importance of staying positive. Heart-warming and wholesome to a tee.
Hero of the Rails
Probably the most famous locomotive in existence, Thomas the Tank Engine first made his name through a series of books, followed by an incredibly popular TV show which began in 1984 and is still running today. In 2009, Thomas was given a full-length feature in which he attempts to help restore an ailing engine without the miserly Fat Controller getting wind of his scheme.
What’s more, a multicultural makeover of the series is being planned for this year, in which engines from China, India and Russia will compete with Thomas in The Great Race. One to keep an eye on, for sure.
Admittedly, this beloved kids’ film is more about an energetic elephant and the plight of the animals at the circus than trains, but there are still several memorable scenes involving the locomotive. Not least among these is where Casey Jr (the name of the train) references The Little Engine That Could from above by telling himself “I think I can” while attempting to traverse a particularly steep hill.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Although this is another movie in which the train makes more of a memorable cameo than a starring role, the first Harry Potter uses the railway as a link between the Muggle and Wizarding worlds and the iconic Platform 9 ¾ has captured the imaginations of Potter maniacs young and old.
Those who wish to board the Hogwarts Express themselves can do so at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London, which underwent a 20,000 ft2 expansion in March 2015 and allows fans the chance to immerse themselves in the magic of Harry Potter like never before.
The Polar Express
In the run-up to Christmas, there’s only one train-related movie you’ll want to show your kids. The Polar Express features Tom Hanks in a number of roles in an animated adventure movie about a group of young children boarding a train to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.
As well as whipping them up into an anticipatory frenzy for the big day, the movie also teaches crucial lessons about friendship, courage and the true meaning of Christmas.