24 Days of Christmas Films: Day 15-Miracle on 34th Street

111118064402-natalie-wood-05-horizontal-gallery

The words genuine and heart-warming has been thrown around a lot this month in regards to some of the films on this list, but believe me when I say that this is the iconic film that first inspired those feelings.

Although the 1994 version will always hold a special place in my heart as I was obsessed with Mara Wilson after Matilda, it’s the 1947 version that I think truly embodies Christmas spirit.

Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) is an event planner for Macy’s Department Store and after finding that her hired Father Christmas is drunk, a man named Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) offers to take his place. He does so well that he ends up working as the store Santa but due to his continual insistence that he is the Father Christmas he ends up committed to a mental institution, and his only option is for the court to be convinced that his is the real deal once and for all. It sounds like a slightly depressing concept initially but the real joy in the film comes from Kris (spoiler alert) convincing everyone, in particular Doris’ sceptical young daughter Susan (Natalie Wood).

Watching both young children and adults fall under Kris Kringle’s spell and rediscover their belief in him is so uplifting and enjoyable to watch, and in the end I think that’s part of the success as I believe everyone would deep down still like to believe in Father Christmas. The performances are outstanding and the natural chemistry between the characters, especially between Susan and Kris Kringle is integral to the reason this film continues to inspire people over 50 years after its release.

“Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to.” It’s that optimism that runs throughout the film, and that’s why I had to include it on this list as I think that’s what people quintessentially love about Christmas, the idea that it feels like anything can happen, maybe even a miracle.

 

Advertisements

24 Days of Christmas Films: Day 14- Arthur Christmas

e09c2305ab4c5cddb22701ffc37a86e2

Another one of the more modern entries on this list but I couldn’t resist including it as I think it’s one of the smartest, most genuine Christmas films I’ve ever seen.

We’re introduced to Father Christmas (Hugh Bonneville) and his two sons Steve, the focused man on the ground in charge of running Christmas operations, and Arthur (James McAvoy) his good hearted but hopeless son who is in charge of the letter department. After a terrible mistake Arthur takes it upon himself to rectify it, and with his GrandSanta (Billy Nighy) and a wrapping elf named Bryony (Ashely Jensen) he sets off to ensure that no child will ever be without a gift on Christmas.

The thing I like most about this film is how it plays on the traditional Christmas myths such as making ‘Santa’ a title which is passed down, and the ingenious explanation as to how Father Christmas manages the incredible feat of delivering presents to all the children across the world in one night.

The recognisable voices add a sense of inherent likability to the characters, as although you might not be able to name the actor, you know the voice and relate to the character as a result. The family focus of the film and Arthur’s determination to deliver the forgotten present means it’s truly heartwarming to watch, but also manages to create genuine sentiment which is what makes it so enjoyable too. It’s such a witty and intelligent film that it makes it a perfect choice for both adults and children and is a sure fire way to keep everyone happy on Christmas day.

24 Days of Christmas Films: Day 4-Edward Scissorhands

7cc5f751-dac6-4394-8125-d80ba9a27240

“Before he came down here, it never snowed.” When people think of Edward Scissorhands it’s often the iconic scene of Winona Ryder’s Kim dancing in the snow that comes to mind, and it’s largely because of that magical winter imagery that I chose it for Day 4.

Romance has played a large part in the previous three films on this list and this film is no exception. It takes the age old tale of the social outcast falling for the beautiful popular girl, but thanks to the incredible Danny Elfman score and the real life chemistry between the two leads, Edward and Kim’s romance transcends the norm to a coupling that has been described as nothing short of iconic. Plus I defy anyone to not feel Christmassy as they watch Kim dance in the snow that Edward creates from his sculptures, as he shows his affection the only way he knows how.

It is in the third act of the film, as the Christmas festivities near its peak that Burton chooses for the climax of his narrative, as Edward moves from a novelty to a threat in the eyes of the neighbourhood. Burton uses this festive setting to emphasise Edward’s role as social outcast, a theme which is common in Christmas films to align him with those who in real life feel at odds with Christmas and the forced family festivity it induces.

As the hysteria in the town reaches fever pitch, Edward retreats back to his secluded, solitary existence and his castle to attempt to repair the damage he’s done, and in doing so sacrifices his only hope at love and companionship. It’s a bittersweet ending as although there is no typical happy ending for the couple, in contrast to the other films on this list, we are sated by learning at the end of the film that even after many years have passed, Edward still continues to craft ice sculptures in his castle purely so his beloved Kim may continue to dance in the snow. Now I don’t know about you, but as far as romantic, festive endings go I think that’s a pretty good one.

Whether you love this film for its social commentary or simply for the beautiful Tim Burton imagery and Danny Elfman score, this film truly has something for everyone and I think provides the perfect dose of escapism for those cold Wintery evenings.