The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly.

Today, I watched a Western film with my sons. It happened to be The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Now, before you start imagining that Malaysia is broadcasting old Westerns, I would like to point out that I got it on DVD, in a local store. It was in the "classics" section.

I grew up with Westerns. I used to watch them with my father. He was particularly fond of the genre and I remember well his excitement as he watched the films. He would identify strongly with the hero and become very engrossed in his every action. Indeed, at key moments he would lean forward towards the TV screen, clenching his fists, in the tension of the moment. I see, now, that this is evidence of his capacity for imaginative involvement - but at the time I just used to think how much he liked these films.

So, I suppose, in many ways, I associate Western movies with my father. It was almost always with him, that I watched them. Thus, it was a telling moment when I bought a Western movie to watch with my own sons. I suppose I was just being my Dad, to them. Now, I should point out that they had never seen a Western film, before. The genre is not popular in this part of the world and one has never been on TV here. Then again, the genre is no longer popular. New Westerns are not being made. Thus, for them, it was a new experience.

They watched intently. Mainly, though, they waited to see what would happen. I think the pace was unfamiliar to them. Modern movies are faster and linger less on expressions and character. The boys did not know what to make of a movie that wasn't always leaping onto the next scene as fast as possible. I didn't realize, until I watched this with them, how much the pace of modern movies differs from the ones I grew up with. Now, movies are a race, then, they were a stroll.

Ainan criticized the lingering shot at the end as the Good receded into the distance: "I don't even know why they include that.", he puzzled. "It is for atmosphere.", I informed him, knowing that it didn't fit his ideas of what a film should be.

"Did you enjoy it?", I asked Ainan at the end.

"Yes.", he confessed.

I was glad, for a moment.

"But not as much as other films".

I understood, then, that the childhood I knew was gone and I could not even bring a piece of it, into theirs. Their world was different. Their expectations were different. Even what a film shouuld be, was different. I had grown up in more leisured times - in the sense that a film, then, was allowed to take its time to tell a story. Now, stories have to explode across the screen - and that is what kids expect.

I remember well and fondly those childhood days watching Westerns with my father. However, my sons will not have such memories of watching them with me. Times have changed. The world has moved on and what once was, cannot be again.

Yet, it was good to see how they would respond to it. It taught me, at least, how different their expectations are, nowadays. I somehow doubt that they will ever go to the trouble of showing their sons a Western, someday.

I wonder what they will remember of how I brought them up? What will they one day show their sons? (Or daughters?) Will they ever do anything, in memory of me?

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 6 and Tiarnan, 4, this month, please go to:

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:
Ainan's IMDB listing is at
Syahidah's IMDB listing is at

Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is at

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:19 PM 


Anonymous David said...

Perhaps such movie tastes are not fixed but could be changed, just like a person develops a taste for a food.

I could imagine if you all were to watch a lot of slow-paced old and new movies, they might start to appreciate more the nuances contained in them.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, perhaps they could learn to appreciate the pace of older movies. There are matters in them that are not contained in modern movies. There are not many nuances of character in a Transformers movie! So, I think that to a large degree modern movies have taken something from them.

I will try them with other older movies over time and see what happens.

Thanks for your thought.

5:20 PM  
Blogger E said...

There are so many movies you should watch with the boys while they are still young, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" should be pretty far down the list, I think.

Here is a list of some great films to watch with the boys (and a few to avoid):

Great blockbusters for kids:
The first three Star Wars films (episodes IV-VII)
The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Raiders of the Lost Ark (the others in the series aren't too bad, either)

Great animation:
Spirited Away (one of the best movies of all time)
Howl's Moving Casle
Princess Mononoke (and other Miazaki films such as: My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail* (minus that one scene with Galahad in the convent perhaps)
Wallace and Gromit films
Finding Nemo
Toy Story, Toy Story 2
The Incredibles
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Great sweet movies:
The Princess Bride

Great modern martial arts fantasy:
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
House of Flying Daggers

Great movies that might be a bit much for some sensitive kids (or parents):
Stand by Me
Good Will Hunting
Little Man Tate
Children of Heaven
Dear Frankie
The Secret of Roan Inish
Brazil (and other films directed by Terry Gilliam)
Time Bandits (some may find it sacreligeous)
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Great old films kids will like:
It's a Wonderful Life
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Duck Soup
Safety Last!
Miracle on 34th Street
The Wizard of Oz

Great old films kids might like:
The Kid
The Maltese Falcon

Great films that you might not want your kids to see yet:
The Third Man
Das Boot
City of God
Blade Runner
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Life of Brian
The Meaning of Life

Great movies which might strain your kids' attention span:
Ran (Kurosawa in gorgeous color, Lear in medieval Japan, but very bloody)
The Magnificent Seven, A Fistful of Dollars (remakes of the Seven Samurai and Yojinbo, respectively. The latter is the first in the series continued with "For a Few Dollars More" and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly")
Lawrence of Arabia

Great movies that might warp Your kids for life:
Dancer in the Dark

The Professional
La Femme Nikita
Harold and Maude (but you might let 'em see those last 3 anyway, in a few years)
(I'm going just by movies I have personally seen and remember- there are others that should be on this list)

8:42 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks E, for the suggestions: they sound an interesting collection. I shall proceed with caution with the ones at the end, though!

Much appreciated.

9:42 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape