We’ve all watched Dicken’s Christmas Carol retold a thousand times in a thousand different ways, the same with It’s A Wonderful Life, which in many ways is the same film – guy gets a new appreciation for life when a supernatural entity tells him how great Christmas is. How many more times must Santa be saved? Must we all learn the harsh reality of the joyous fleeting moment by watching our magically animated friend perish beneath the sun’s paradoxically life-giving rays? Can the true meaning of the season be learned anywhere other than Charlie Brown’s piano?
There’s a lot more films out there than those that are brandished at us all December long. From the undervalued or apparently unseasonal, there’s loads of films that fill you with as much of the joy of the season. So let’s look at them, and then maybe watch a few while everyone else starts yelling about the Grinch.
Out Of Season
Nobody really knows when you’re supposed to watch Nightmare Before Christmas. Christmas is right there in the title, and it’s all about yet another character trying to save Christmas… well, steal it first but then try and put it back, and the whole thing is about what goes into making a Christmas, mostly the cosmetic stuff, presents, stockings, tree, the sleigh, so on and so forth. But all the characters are Hallowe’en entities, monsters, ghoulies and terrible things who delight in darkness, spooks, and creepy crawlies. The story tells of how they break Christmas and throw Santa to the actual Boogeyman, before The Pumpkin King realises that what he’s done was a pretty stupid idea.
Above everything else I’m fascinated by the other trees in the holiday glade, and the possible worlds that dwell beyond them. What’s in the Valentines day world? Not a kid’s film, that’s for sure. And actually the same could be said of St. Patrick’s Day, and Thanksgiving too if they went down the historical route rather than the lovely meal and family gatherings and mass turkey-death. Independence day is probably a Michael Bay film waiting to happen…
Despite the horror elements it’s still a beautiful tale of redemption and learning to appreciate oneself. A Christmas Carol features ghosts, and the Grinch is a terrible hate-filled monster like Oogy Boogy, and when it comes right down to it, this is not a scary film unless you’re a particularly fragile child. I say Christmas film!
Moving onto another multi-seasonal film, let us address the under-appreciated masterpiece Rise of the Guardians.
This story takes place at Easter, so why on earth would I suggest that it be a Christmas film? Main characters include the giant Russian warrior version of Santa Clause and the mysterious and boyish Jack Frost fighting alongside other bedtime story warriors as they defend the children of the world from the horrors that threaten them, in particular the charismatic lord of darkness and fear Pitch Black, the original bogeyman and thing-under-the-bed. The wintery guardians take centre stage in a setting that remains frosty even in the heights of spring, probably Canada.
Jack Frost is an outsider to this gang of legends and celebrated names, shunned and belittled until a far greater being steps in to anoint him the saviour in the face of a threat that obfuscates and casts every shifting shadows to thwart the day-to-day tasks of the Guardians. If that sounds familiar, it might have been a little more obvious if Jack had a shiny red nose.
Like Nightmare, it also features a storyline of self-discovery and appreciating who you are deep down, as well as learning to let go of obligations and see the wonder of your life again. Another tale of rejuvenation and rebirth that warms the heart and lets you feel like you’re young again.
Christmas In The Back Seat
We all know that the best Christmas film ever is Die Hard! It’s action packed and filled with awesome one liners backed by epic story with a hero who takes actual injuries and doesn’t play nice or teach us the only way to do things is the right way, and it all happens at Christmas time. Lovely. It’s not alone either, it might have slipped your mind that the worst present you can give someone at Christmas is not a pair of itchy socks, it’s the one you can’t get wet or feed after midnight.
Remember the carolling scene with the Gremlin Mob on the doorstep, or the remote control car chase? It’s every bit as much of a Christmas film as Die Hard. As is Batman Returns, easily remembered for DeVito’s polarising portrayal of The Penguin (I loved it) and Michelle Pfeiffer’s sultry Catwoman, not so easily remembered for the festively decorated Gotham City.
Take a look at this list, most of them are fairly obvious but if you scroll down there’s a few “Oh yeah!” moments in the mix. Home Alone is more memorable for the potentially fatal slapstick traps than the festive themes, Love Actually is the most heavily Christmas themed film I’ve ever seen, and yet it’s easy to forget that the infamous Rowan Atkinson scene is an overly elaborate Christmas present.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Futurama: Bender’s Big Score and a personal favourite film of mine In Bruges all take place around Christmas time! Ok, so the messages in these films may not be of love, understanding and caring for one another but if you’re looking for something different to celebrate the season then you have a battery of viewing material to watch that won’t leave you suffering the nausea brought about by the saccharine feelings of love and warmth that we’re bombarded with every December.
What’s your favourite Christmas film? Are you a sucker for the classics or do you like to go off the beaten tracks for the seasonal feels?
Oh, and has anyone watched the new Krampus film? I haven’t, I’m looking for opinions without the spoilers please. Share and discuss your thoughts in the comments down below, or on our Facebook page.