Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: Life, Animated

As adults we’re often warned about the negative influences of TV and films on children. The next scare story is never too far away. However, the benefits are rarely ever even touched on. Disney has become much-maligned over the last few years but for decades it has made beautifully crafted animation which has beguiled and enchanted generations of children. Roger Ross Williams’ documentary Life, Animated takes it a step further, looking at how Disney films changed the lives of one family.

At the age of three, and for no discernible reason, Owen Suskind suddenly went silent. He was eventually diagnosed with autism and whatever his family tried they couldn’t get through to him. The only time he expressed any interest was when they all watched Disney movies together. These films were Owen’s one obsession, and over the years the family gradually became able to interact with him through films such as The Lion King, Dumbo and Peter Pan.

Life, Animated focusses on Owen as he prepares to move out of the family home and also gives a brief outline of his life. He became able to communicate his feelings using the exaggerated expressions of characters in his favourite films. Based on a book by New York Times journalist and Owen’s dad Ron Suskind, Life, Animated is a funny, heart-warming documentary which make you re-appraise the positive influence Disney films can have on children.

Life, Animated will be in cinemas in he UK in December.

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