Family Films

film 5 of 5

My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts

Film Review by smarte May 29, 2015


More important than any narrative found in books or movies is the stories told within families, older generation to younger generation (and vice versa). It’s through these conversations that traditions are upheld and familial relationships are strengthened. The National Film Board of Canada’s 1999 animated short film, My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts is an honest attempt to capture these precious interactions. A woman narrates her grandmother’s story of ironing the King of Norway’s shirts. But the narration is less narration than it is affectionate story-telling. Fun tangents that often accompany storytelling add to the fun (including a particularly funny one about figure-skater Tonya Harding at the Oslo Olympics). And while heritage takes the foreground, the historical background is not ignored: Grandma led a revolution of Norwegian shirt-ironers to sabotage the Nazi soldiers’ uniforms. The film may help introduce historical subjects to your children—or it may not, but at least it’ll allow for some family fun.

If you feel like a post-movie activity may help your family’s fun (and learning) continue, try recording family stories, written or drawn, looking at old family photographs, writing letters to far-away grandparents, or maybe even some genealogical research for more mature children. Hopefully, the loving, familial interaction found in Grandma’s story will encourage similar interactions in your family.

Benjamin Thevenin