Courage is sometimes obvious and other times less blatant than, for example, laying down your life so that others may live or heroically fighting off an enemy. In the course of family films, bravery has been displayed in many different ways -- from a young boy standing up to his boss to a grown man defiantly singing a song of unity and peace in times of war.
We've come up with a list of top 10 courageous moments in family films, but we realize that this list could consist of entirely different moments -- all of them coming from just one or two movies, in some cases. We tried to select moments from different decades and various types of films that appeal to families. Don't agree with our picks? Share your favorite moments of cinematic bravery in family flicks.
Act of Courage: The Tin Man, Scarecrow, and "Cowardly" Lion must face the dreaded Wicked Witch of the West to retrieve the Witch's broomstick for the Wizard and more importantly, to rescue Dorothy, who had been kidnapped by the evil Flying Monkeys. Dorothy's trio of new rallied their strength to infiltrate the Witch's lair, disguising themselves as three of her guards in order to look for Dorothy. For all they know, they're walking into a trap set by the malicious green-faced Witch, but they free Dorothy who ends up accidentally splashing the Witch with water, and the rest is movie history.
Act of Courage: As Clarence the angel shows, George Bailey acts bravely many times throughout his life. If it hadn't been for George, his brother would have died in that sledding accident and never gone on to become a decorated war hero. Saving your kid brother from drowning is obviously courageous, but what took even more guts is when George stood up to his boss, the druggist Mr. Gower, who in fog of alcohol-fueled grief accidentally filled a prescription with poison instead of medicine. Just a young errand boy, George could have just taken Mr. Gower's word for it and delivered the prescription, but he selflessly refused.
Act of Courage: The obvious choice is at the end of the movie, when Maria's nun friends sabotage the Nazis officers' cars, so they can't drive after the fleeing Von Trapps, but our selection is subtler than that. It's when Captain Von Trapp eventually joined by his family, sings 'Edelweiss' -- "Blossom and snow may you bloom and grow, bless my homeland forever." They inspire the entire audience to sing it in unison, even though the Nazis present consider the symbolic anthem of Austrian patriotism an act of treason.
Act of Courage: After spinning many extraordinary webs to help spare Wilbur from being slaughtered ("Some pig," "Radiant," "Terrific," "Humble"), Charlotte creates her most important work of all, her egg sac, filled with 514 eggs. She calls it her "magnum opus," and then her life is complete. Technically so far this is a tear-jerking moment, but what's courageous is that Wilbur, indebted to his dearly departed friend and protector, saves her egg sac and returns it to the farm, where eventually three of her offspring stay and grow.
Act of Courage:
Kids often act as rescuers in family films, and one prime example is young Elliott, who along with his brother and friends, hatches a plan to do whatever necessary to get his alien friend E.T. back to the spaceship that has been sent to take him back home. Elliott and his older brother steal a van E.T. is in, and later -- in the famous bicycle scene -- ride as quickly as they can to evade the government officials that want to capture E.T. With John Williams' soaring score accompanying the chase, Elliott flying on a bicycle with E.T. perched atop is an unforgettable moment.
Movie: 'The Karate Kid'
(1984) starring Ralph Macchio
, Pat Morita
, Elisabeth Shue
Act of Courage:
It may not seem as impressive as some of the other moments on our list, but Daniel's final karate tournament match against rival Johnny is a memorable example of fierce determination. With his leg severely injured, Daniel hobbles back to the mat, where he continues, despite excruciating pain, to fight, eventually assuming the special "Crane" position and delivering a victorious kick to Johnny's chin.
Movie: 'The Lion King'
(1994) starring Matthew Broderick
, James Earl Jones
, Jeremy Irons
Act of Courage: King Mufasa, who had already rescued his cub Simba from hungry hyenas earlier in the film, plays into his evil brother Scar's plan by rushing to save Simba again, this time from a wildebeest stampede. There's very few sadder moments in family films than Mufasa's death at the hands of his own brother, but he dies after showing tremendous heroism to ensure his son's safety.
Act of Courage: In this under-appreciated animated gem, the Iron Giant realizes that in order to save the fictional town of Rockwell, Maine, he must intercept a nuclear missile that has been launched specifically to destroy him. Unwilling to let his young friend Hogarth and the other townsfolk suffer, the Iron Giant flies straight toward the missile, thinking of Hogarth's words "You are who you choose to be" and then uttering "Superman" seconds before his collision.
Act of Courage: The Boy Who Lived, as any Potter fan knows, has a "thing" for saving people, so it's never a surprise when he acts courageously. His perpetually overlooked best friend Ron Weasley, however, has a key moment to shine in the first movie. A strategy wiz, Ron willingly sacrifices himself as the Black Knight in a dangerous giant match of Wizard Chess, so Harry and Hermione can win and continue in their quest to defeat Professor Quirrell. Ron knows it's the only way his friends can go on, and allows himself to be taken down by the White Queen.
Act of Courage: Marlin is not an adventurous clown-fish; he's an overprotective worry-wart, but when his beloved only son Nemo is caught by an Australian dentist, Marlin makes it his personal mission to find him. Accompanying him on his journey is a forgetful Dory, who is caught in a sea of jellyfish they were supposed to remember to swim around. In a moment of complete selflessness, Marlin, who makes it through the jellyfish relatively uninjured, returns to lead her out, even though he's stung again and again.