Back when I was a kid, cable television, video players, home computers, and the Internet were still far in the future. (I know, hard to imagine for some of you, but it’s true.) If you wanted to watch a movie, you had to wait until it came to your local movie theatre or aired on CBC or CTV. And certain television specials became annual rituals.
The most heartbreakingly bittersweet specials were three created by Readers Digest Canada in association with Potterton Productions. (I was an odd child — I loved to watch shows that made me cry.)
The Happy Prince, which was created in 1974, was a 25-minute animated film featuring the voices of Christopher Plummer and Glynis Johns. It told the Oscar Wilde short story of the statue of the Happy Prince and the little swallow who stayed with him until winter. I still bawl when I watch it.
The Little Mermaid, which was created in 1975, was a 25-minute animated film narrated by Richard Chamberlain. It told the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the mermaid who wanted to be human as it was originally written (in all its sadness), not as Disney would rewrite it many years later. I still remember the music and it can still make me cry buckets of tears.