24 Days of Christmas:Day 13- Nativity

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It’s around this time every year that one of the most important parts of the run-up to Christmas takes place, and that is the Nativity.

For those of us in the UK it’s something we hold dear to our hearts, and usually with bittersweet memories of the terrible parts we got. Although kudos to you if you managed to bag the coveted Gabriel/Mary/Joseph roles, 6 year old me was quite put out being a narrator.

It’s a wonder that it took so long for someone to make a film about such a beloved right of passage, and as a result it’s no surprise that this is arguably one of the most successful Christmas films of recent years. We start with three friends at theatre school Paul Maddens (Martin Freeman),  his girlfriend Jennifer Love (Ashley Jensen) and their friend Gordon Shakespeare (Jason Watkins) as they’re about to perform a show. We then flick to a few years later and Paul and Jennifer have split up with her pursuing a career in Hollywood as a producer, whilst Gordon works for a prestigious school running their highly regarded Nativity every year. Paul works in a lesser performing school and by an act of misfortune is placed in charge of the Nativity this year,with the headmistress’s childish nephew Mr. Poppy (Marc Wootton) to help him. After hearing a chance encounter between Paul and Gordon, where Paul is goaded into bragging that a team of Hollywood producers are coming to see their show, Mr. Poppy spreads the exciting news until  the whole town knows. The only problem is that Paul was telling a big fat lie, and that he now has less that a month to contact and convince Hollywood bigwigs to come to see the show…

The success of the film is largely down to the stellar performances of the children who manage to be both incredibly cute and adorable without being sickly sweet, and give great overall performances. Of course the majority of the film is building up to the final performance and to see whether Hollywood does arrive, and boy is it worth the wait. The songs put ‘Away In A Manger’ to shame, and I defy anyone to not attempt to sing along so catchy are the songs, with ‘Nazarus’ and ‘Sparkle And Shine’ being my personal favourites.

Due to the subject matter and performances it’s truly a heartwarming film and the perfect choice for reigniting the nostalgia of childhood, and what you used to love about Christmas. It’s the perfect time to watch it to get you into the Christmassy mood, as even if you’re too old to have your own Nativity this is one you can enjoy again and again. Plus if you’re going to be brutally honest with yourself, you know your Nativity was never this good.

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24 Days of Christmas Films: Day 7- The Snowman/Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer

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We are now officially 18 sleeps away from Christmas so it’s time that this list starts kicking it up a gear in terms of the Christmassy factor of these films and what better way to start than with two children’s classics.

I did slightly cheat today by including two films but it’s because I think that with these two depending on your family, the preference tends to lean either way. Whereas some of my friends swear by Rudolph as their childhood favourite and the one that they watch every year, but for my family it was without a doubt The Snowman.

On the surface both films are very different as one is a wordless animated short with a complex hidden narrative, whilst the other is an all singing and dancing holiday TV special of the world’s most famous reindeer. But they both share similar qualities that are the reason they have transcended the films of their time into Christmas classics.

Both like most Christmas films have great songs, whilst The Snowman has the iconic ‘Walking In The Air’ which always makes me tear up a little bit, Rudolph has a original soundtrack which when being sung by adorable elves and reindeers will give you a serious case of the Christmas warm and fuzzies.

They’ve also both got incredible heart at the centre of their stories; in The Snowman we witness one boy create a companion who takes him on a wondrous adventure through the skies and how he learns that eventually everything must come to an end. On the other hand with Ruldolph we learn the story of the most famous of reindeer of all, and how he transforms from an unwanted outcast to a beloved hero who saves Christmas. Both have moments that will have even the hardened of viewers remarking that they have something in their eyes.

There’s always a special place in a persons heart for the things that we have experienced as children,  but having re-watched these at the grand old age of 23 I can testify that they still stand the test of time and are still beautiful to watch. Plus if there was ever a time to embrace your inner child, it’s Christmas.