James and the Giant Peach
The 1996 Disney Pictures movie James and the Giant Peach is based on the 1961 novel by Ronald Gahl (PBworks, 2005). The movie’s characters, plot, and themes deal with child development concepts such as social development, emotional development, family, friendship, relationships, and attachment.
The movie begins with the family and parenting styles concept of child development by introducing the audience to the main character James and his parents. James lives in a two-parent household with his authoritative parents who are providing him with warmth, love, and encouragement (Levine & Munsch, pp. 521-522). This concept of parenting styles is shown as the movie begins and James is seen spending time with his parents. Then suddenly, James’ world changes and he is abandoned as a result of his parents being killed. This causes James to become orphaned and forced to live with his authoritarian aunts, Spiker and Sponge. Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge are very controlling towards James and expect him to obey their rules without allowing him to express his feelings. This authoritarian behavior is seen throughout the movie. Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge are also uninvolved, neglectful, and abusive, using verbal and physical punishment on James when they feel it’s necessary, which is also seen throughout the movie (Levine & Munsch, p. 522). These behaviors cause James to develop lower self-esteem, show less intellectual curiosity, and feel lonely and afraid, which are typical outcomes of an authoritarian parenting approach (Levine & Munsch, pp. 521-523). Although James’ aunts’ authoritative parenting style has an effect on his emotional and social behaviors, it is his parents authoritative parenting that plays a major role in helping him to be self-reliant, explorative, and content throughout his journey aboard the peach (Levine & Munsch, p. 522).
In the movie James isn’t allowed to go to school or play with other children, and is treated like an outsider by his aunts. This causes him to seek relationships through friendship, which is a concept of social development and is marked by companionship, closeness, and affection, all which James has not been given the chance to experience since living with his aunts (Levine & Munsch, p. 436). This is seen in the in the movie when James returns to the house hungry and tired after a long day of hard labor in the garden and is treated in a harsh, sarcastic, neglectful manner by his aunts. This behavior causes him to retreat to his room where he discovers a spider building its web in his bedroom window. Because the spider is the only living thing James has had the chance to come in contact with, out of excitement, he fearlessly grabs the spider from the window to protect it from his aunts and begins to socialize with it. He immediately seeks out a friendship with the spider saying, “Hello there! Where did you come from? You probably shouldn’t build your web up here where Aunt Sponge and Aunt...