Many movies have dealt with the topic of orphans and their struggle to find their place in the world. From abandoned children to the ones who lost their parents and family to illness or different catastrophes, these stories, most of the time, bring tears to our eyes. But they are also very inspirational, and their message is very often positive and optimistic, full of hope and faith in a better world. This is the list of the 15 best movies about orphans you need to see.
What it’s about: This movie is set in the 1930s in Paris, where we meet Hugo, an orphan boy who lives in the walls of a train station where he is in charge of the clocks. The only thing he has from his father is a mechanical man that doesn’t work without a special key. Hugo embarks on an adventure in search of this key which unlocks the secret of the mechanical man.
Why you should watch it: Martin Scorsese directed a beautiful and memorable story about a wonderful boy who meets many strangers on his adventures which change his life. It is an unforgettable journey that brings hope to humanity and the good in people.
Peter Pan (2003)
What it’s about: Peter Pan is an orphan boy who doesn’t want to grow up and lives with his other orphaned friends in a land called Neverland. One day he meets two brothers and a sister who will change his life forever while discovering the place where he lives, but also reminding him of the importance of having a family.
Why you should watch it: This is one of the most beloved and famous stories about orphans and a beautiful tale of courage, love, and family. It is a must-watch for children but also a beautiful reminder to adults never to lose that child inside themselves.
What it’s about: Annie is a little orphan girl who has lived an unhappy life in an orphanage run by Miss Agatha Hannigan. One day, Annie decides to run away front he orphanage and find her parents but ends up in the care of an extravagant and weird billionaire Oliver Warbucks who soon figures out she is very important to him and is determined not to let her back into the arms of Miss Hannigan.
Why you should watch it: Based on a Broadway musical, this is one of the most popular stories about an orphan in a cruel world. Even though her young childhood wasn’t easy, Annie managed to find happiness among good people.
Batman Begins (2005)
What it’s about: After the death of his parents, billionaire Bruce Wayne moves to Asia, where he is taught how to fight evil. He will very soon have to use all his mental and physical talents in his hometown of Gotham City when corruption becomes a huge problem. He transforms into a superhero in a bat suit who is in charge of fighting villains.
Why you should watch it: Known for decades, first as a comic and then through numerous adaptations, the story of Batman has attracted many thanks to its message. This Christopher Nolan’s vision brings us a darker and more pessimistic Batman who goes through life mostly alone, with a few loyal friends of his.
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
What it’s about: Far, far away from us, a genetic experiment resulted in creating an aggressive creature with only one weakness, due to the density of its body, it cannot swim in the water. After the scientist is sentenced to jail, the being is also to be transported to a prison asteroid. It manages to escape and somehow ends up on Earth.
It can be even more dangerous here, but it gets adopted by Lilo, a little girl who adopts it as a dog and completely changes its original settings. Stitch becomes her pet and changes her and her family’s life in more ways than they ever expected. But the fallen experiment should also be reported to the Grand Councilwoman far, far away.
Why you should watch it: This is an adorable animated movie about a little girl who managed to see the good in this little orphaned alien dog with an unusual mission. This cartoon shows the purity and love in children’s hearts and sends a beautiful message.
Anne of Green Gables (2016)
What it’s about: Anne Shirley is an orphan who gets sent to a couple who wants to adopt a boy. She arrives at a rural farm on King Edward Island where she soon adapts and meets different people she will call her family and friends.
Why you should watch it: Based on one of the most beloved children’s stories, this is a beautiful and heartwarming tale that brings hope and shows us that there are people in this world who can make others’ lives better.
The Book Thief (2013)
What it’s about: Young Liesel is a Jewish orphan who finds herself in the midst of World War II and tries to find refuge and solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. She lost her brother, and her mother abandoned her, but she was lucky enough to find love and protection in her adoptive parents. But as the war is reaching climax, her life and the lives of her loved ones will become more and more endangered.
Why you should watch it: This is a wonderful story in many aspects that will bring you tears and laughter and warm your heart in many ways. It is a very well-made book adaptation, with excellent performances and a message that no one will ever forget.
Oliver Twist (1948)
What it’s about: Oliver Twist is a poor orphan who lives in 17th-century London, trying to survive and escape the cruel world of the warehouse. During one of his attempts, he meets a group of young thieves led by the notorious and evil Bill Sikes. He begins working for him but soon realizes that he stands on his way to happiness and decides to break free in order to get a chance for a brighter future.
Why you should watch: If you haven’t read Charles Dickens’ masterpiece Oliver Twist, you should at least watch the movie. It is one of the most famous tales ever, one that depicts life in London at that time when the wealthy prospered, but the poor couldn’t be more miserable. It is the tale of bravery and hope.
Harry Potter franchise (2001 – 2011)
What it’s about: Harry Potter is an orphaned boy who, together with his best friends and teachers, gets into different more or less dangerous adventures that we simply adored reading about and later watching. We follow seven years of education at Hogwarts, the school of magic, where we get to know all sorts of magicians, good and bad.
Why you should watch it: It is a children’s movie which adults find very interesting, too, especially the ones who were children or teenagers when the first movie, The Philosopher’s Stone, came out. It is a heartwarming story about love, friendship, and family, and even though he is an orphan, Harry has seldom felt alone in the world since he has been surrounded by the ones he loves most.
August Rush (2007)
What it’s about: August Rush is a wonderful, warm story with fantastical elements that tell the importance of music. It is about a young orphanage musical genius who uses his gift to find his birth parents. On his journey, he encounters various complex characters and finds himself in many interesting situations, some of which are not always too pleasing.
Why you should watch it: Another movie proves that we should never lose hope and believe in ourselves, especially when an inner motive and urge drives us. This is a beautiful family drama with excellent performances and a message that we shouldn’t forget.
The Secret Garden (1993)
What it’s about: A beloved children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett has been made into this wonderful family movie about a young privileged girl who has been left an orphan after the death of her parents. Mary Lennox is sent from India back to England after her parents were killed in an earthquake. She arrives at her uncle Lord Archibald Craven’s Estate, where she is about to live until she turns 18.
Mary likes her new home, but she is eager to find something interesting to do, and soon she befriends the sickly young Colin Craven and finds a secret garden.
Why you should watch it: This is one of the most beloved children’s books and a movie that depicts children’s imagination and ability to see the beauty around them. Mary ended up an orphan after a catastrophe but fortunately didn’t have to go through abandonment as some children and was lucky to grow up with a loving relative.
What it’s about: Saroo was a happy five-year-old boy in 1986 who lived in a poor but happy family. But an accident changed his life forever when he got left alone inside a moving passenger train and taken to Calcutta, 1000 miles from his home. He tries to survive as a street child in the unknown surrounding and is sent to an orphanage but is soon adopted by a loving family from Tasmania. But the memories from his past and his real family start haunting him, and he begins a quest to find them.
Why you should watch it: This is a visually stunning drama with brilliant performances by Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman and a truly remarkable story of love and devotion, but also one that will break your heart.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
What it’s about: Will Hunting is a brilliant mathematician, able to solve any task in front of him and even deal with the most difficult, still unsolved ones. But without his psychiatrist Sean’s help, Will cannot grasp what is happening around him and is in desperate need of guidance and support. He is the one who notices his talent while watching him solve a statistics problem and will be the pivotal figure in Will’s acceptance to M.I.T.
Why you should watch it: This inspirational movie shows that we should never give up, especially when there is someone who believes in us. It is brilliantly written with unforgettable performances by Robin Williams and Matt Damon.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
What it’s about: This is an animated war drama about Seita and Setsuko, Japanese siblings trying to survive World War II catastrophes. They were separated from their parents after an American bombing and are left alone, having to rely on each other, hoping to survive.
Why you should watch it: This is not only one of the best-animated movies you might ever watch. It is also one of the best movies in general. It is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time, full of sadness and hope, and shows a beautiful bond between a brother and sister who are left alone in this world.
A Shine of Rainbows (2009)
What it’s about: This is the story of a young orphan boy named Tomas who gets adopted by a wonderful, loving, and caring Irish woman Maire O’Donnel and begins his life with her on Corry Island, off the coast of Ireland. She shows him all the beauties that surround him there, but her husband isn’t thrilled with the boy’s unusual behavior. But when tragedy strikes, Tomas will have to embark on a journey where he must rely on seeing the light in the dark and return home.
Why you should watch it: get ready for this emotional rollercoaster that will make you cry and fill your heart with love and warmth. It is an unforgettable story about second chances and a beautiful tale that will make you think of the things you have done and are still doing.