Even if you've grown too old, pragmatic or jaded to believe in magic in your everyday life, movies provide a fictional universe where magic is utterly believable. Whether it's the secret lives of witches and wizards in 'Harry Potter' or the entirely magical world of Narnia or Middle-earth in 'The Chronicles of Narnia' and 'The Lord of the Rings,' cinematic history is full of magical worlds, places and people that audiences willingly immerse themselves in -- sometimes long after the credits have rolled (ask any die-hard 'Rings' or 'Potter' fan).
We've searched for some of our favorite films featuring magic we can believe in, and invite you to share your own magical movies you love to watch again and again.
Why It's Magical: J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World isn't a far-off distant land reachable by unicorns and dragons; it's all around the non-magical world; we Muggles just can't see or access it. The wonderful thing about the Wizarding World is that it's so richly diverse and complicated. Politics, education, discrimination, social status -- these are all issues young Harry Potter encounters when he arrives at Hogwarts and becomes best friends with Ron, a poor, pureblood wizard, and Hermione, a Muggle-born witch. Each film adaptation delves deeper and deeper into the magical world that desperately needs an orphan hero to save it from evil.
'The Lord of the Rings'
Why It's Magical:
Peter Jackson's three adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth are a fascinating look at a world where men co-exist with elves, dwarfs, hobbits, wizards and all manner of magical creatures. Frodo, an intrepid young hobbit, is tasked -- as heroes always are -- with the nearly-impossible quest of destroying one evil ring. He can't do it by himself, of course, so a brave Fellowship representative of Middle-earth's inhabitants forms to protect Frodo. The Fellowship, and how they put aside their differences to form a remarkable bond -- like the hilarious odd couple of Gimli and Legolas -- makes this trilogy a magical journey.
'The Chronicles of Narnia'
Why It's Magical: Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, who have evacuated London to the English countryside for safe-keeping during World War II, are the kind of ordinary protagonists children and adults love to root for, and they do not disappoint. When little Lucy discovers a magical land called Narnia in a clothing wardrobe, they transport audiences too. There's a tyrannical White Witch, all sorts of talking animals, and a great, messianic lion named Aslan who sacrifices himself for the greater good. With the help of this cast of characters, the children ultimately prevail in defeating evil.
Why It's Magical: Peter Pan is one of pop culture's ultimate magical creatures: a boy who refuses to grow up. He leads a band of Lost Boys on the magical island of Neverland, the place of eternal youth. Peter, with help from his fairy friend Tinker Bell, allows the Darling children John, Michael and Wendy (why is it that British children have most of the magical fun in books and movies?) to fly alongside them. There are mermaids and fairies and pirates, oh my, and it's an unforgettable story in which those who believe in magic are rewarded with the adventure of their lives.
'The Wizard of Oz'
Why It's Magical:
Young, naive Dorothy Gale isn't the kind of heroine audiences anticipate. She's frightened, confused and utterly out of her element when a tornado whisks her and her little dog Toto into the Land of Oz. The munchkins may have been happy Dorothy landed on the Wicked Witch of the East, but Dorothy just wants to get home. Besieged by the Wicked Witch of the West and her creepy flying monkeys, Dorothy teams up with a Tin-Man, Scarecrow and Lion to reach the Wizard and find a way back to Kansas. Oz is the magical place, but it's Dorothy's perseverance and friendship that is truly magical.
Why It's Magical: Edwardian England is not itself a magical place, but when Julie Andrews' original super-nanny Mary Poppins swoops down on her umbrella to watch two spirited upper-crust children, she creates a magical atmosphere in the Banks household. She is, of course, a magical woman, with her bottomless carpetbag, ability to tidy rooms with a mere snap of her fingers, host mid-air tea parties and turn chalk-drawings into a (literally) animated outing. Oh, and she can fly -- with her over-sized umbrella. Andrews' Fraulein Maria can sing, but Mary can do it all.
Why It's Magical: Poor, put-upon Cinderella thinks all hope is lost. Her step-mother and her heartless, petty step-sisters try to ruin her one chance of a lovely night -- even after her sweet mice friends fashioned her a dress to wear to the prince's ball. Enter the Fairy Godmother, who with a swish and a flick and a "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" gives Cinderella and her animal friends one unforgettable make-over. Thanks to the Fairy Godmother's magical intervention, Cinderella is able to attend the royal ball, dance with the prince and find true love at first sight.
Why It's Magical:
Neil Gaiman is a master of fantasy, and Matthew Vaughn's wonderful, underrated adaptation brilliantly captures the tale of young Tristan (Charlie Cox) and the beautiful, corporeal star he captures, Yvaine (Claire Danes). It's a mature and sophisticated romantic epic -- more 'Princess Bride' than Disney princess -- with youth-obsessed witches, unicorns, flying pirate ships and true love. It's one of those sweetly magical movies that more people should see, if only to witness the amazing performances by Robert De Niro as a cross-dressing pirate captain and Michelle Pfeiffer as one wonderfully wicked witch.
'Alice in Wonderland'
Why It's Magical: Like the Pevensie kids, Alice just stumbles upon Wonderland -- or Underland as its called in Tim Burton's deliciously twisted adaptation -- where a Mad Hatter hosts a decidedly loopy afternoon tea, a blue, hookah-smoking caterpillar dispenses sage advice and the murderous Red Queen rests her feet on pigs and casually calls for the decapitation of, well, anyone she chooses. With the beautiful and fair-minded Alice as our guide, we discover the joys and horrors of Wonderland, and why it's such a magical place connected to our childhoods.