Growing up, I believe everyone has a Christmas movie or movies they hold dearly and revisit during the holiday period. They could have been released when we were kids, could have been our parents’ favourites, or may simply be a film we discovered and loved. However, I find Christmas to be a time where emotions run high and I’ve noticed that certain holiday films have a major effect on me for different reasons. I thought I would express my feelings on this subject and explain the different feelings I get from selected movies.
*SPOILER WARNING FOR EACH OF THESE FILMS*
Scrooged is an alternate telling of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and follows the formula of the story in its own unique and comedic way. Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is the president at TV network ‘IBC’ and shares many of the selfish characteristics that Scrooge does. He undergoes the life-altering journey from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future and has a change of heart. What gets to me about this film, is at the end where Frank expresses his desire to help people and the feeling of wanting to help them again and again. It’s described as having ‘the miracle happen to you’ and it makes me reflect on whether I do enough for other people and society. It makes me want to do more, but I revisit the film every year and self-reflect on my contribution to society all over again.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
This for me is the best Christmas film. It’s hilarious, chaotic and really captures the spirit of the ‘perfect family Christmas’. Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wants the whole family round at his house so he can have a magical Christmas like he had when he was younger. Hilarity ensues with putting up lights, unwanted family guests and a rogue squirrel in the house. I won’t spoil anything about the film as I would love for people to watch it. This film fills me with such joyous emotion, as it is one I watch on Christmas Eve every year. It is also a film I watched in my teenage years when I had outgrown Christmas traditions and didn’t watch many festive movies.
Watching this movie on Christmas Eve fills me with great comfort where there’s no work to worry about, I can take in the comedy that still makes me laugh and it’s a film I quote all year round. It’s like a yearly build up and the hype is always there. It’s a well-written film and nothing feels wasted. It’s got a fantastic soundtrack and dedicated performance from Chevy Chase. THE Christmas film for me.
The Polar Express
I think The Polar Express is a wonderful Christmas film with mind-blowing ‘hyper-realism’ animation, dynamic voice work from Tom Hanks and a story that touches my heartstrings deeply. I think it has one of the best closing lines in any film, where the main subject of the story is about believing in Santa Claus. It makes me reflect on the magic of believing in something as magical as Father Christmas and how the idea of ‘belief’ conquers all. The protagonist has his doubts throughout the movie until he gets to the North Pole and when he can’t hear the jingling of the reindeer’s bells like everyone else, he cries out in desperation to believe in Santa Clause and hear those beautiful bells. His fortunes are met and he wishes to always be able to hear the Christmas bell, but the part that fills me with warm and sad nostalgia is this:
“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.” – Chris Van Allsburg (author).
The Santa Clause & Home Alone/Lost In New York
If I think about the Christmas movies I watched as a child, then I’m instantly drawn to The Santa Clause and the first two Home Alone movies. They fill me with youthful nostalgia and warm Christmas feelings. Tim Allen and Macaulay Culkin put in great performances in their respective films and the former has creative set design that envisioned my ideal North Pole as a child. The antics and quotes of Home Alone make it one of the most loved Christmas movies and that house and John Williams score are so iconic to me. The sequel makes New York look so exciting, and one of the first things I’ll do when one day visiting is find all of the filming locations. I will always love and defend these movies and they are some I always save for the latter half of December to get me into the Christmas spirit.
It saddens me how the sequels to The Santa Clause ruined the magic of the first one and lacked the beauty of its set design. It was less quotable and magical and it could be down to age, but the modern look and new scenery didn’t cut it for me. One thing I have always loved about Home Alone is the casting with Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern being two of my all-time favourite movie villains. If there’s a Christmas film most people of my generation have seen, it’s Home Alone.
It’s A Wonderful Life
I’m sure for many, this is considered one of the greatest Christmas movies and one of the best to come out of the 1940’s. Frank Capra’s masterpiece follows the story of George Bailey from a young boy to a middle-aged man who is down on his luck. There are many hurdles throughout his life preventing him from doing what he really wants. One situation after another brings George to his tipping point on Christmas Eve. It took me years to watch this film and that Christmas Eve where I first watched it, I felt such a rush of emotions. I was firstly amazed by what I had just seen and I think it is a worthy five stars out of five in terms of storytelling. I felt a lot of sadness and I feel the way to watch this film is either portray yourself as George Bailey, or be invested in his corner throughout the whole movie.
You just want George to succeed and be happy and I felt a lot of reflections on life itself and its hardship. The closing moments of the movie see George’s brother, Harry exclaim that George is the richest man in all of Bedford Falls and he is greatly loved by all those who know him. It made me think, it made me tear up and it instantly became one of my favourite Christmas movies. It’s such a powerful story and to see George slowly break down fills you with a rush of emotions. At the end you feel such joy as folk sing out Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
Let me know your thoughts on these movies and if you have any relations to this post! I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and happy holidays during this festive season and enjoy plenty of great Christmas movies.