Christmas movies – from It’s a Wonderful Life to A Nightmare Before Christmas – if you’re festive, you’re on trial.
There are undoubtedly a handful of Christmas films which have stood the test of time. It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas are good examples. But, quite frankly, with the sheer volume of films released purely because ‘there’s something about Santa in it’ Christmas movies are more a case of the ancient proverb – throw enough muck at the wall and some will stick.
I must admit, generally, I’m not the most Christmassy of people. For example, my main gripe with How the Grinch Stole Christmas is that the green furball went soft. Don’t even get me started on spineless Scrooge. But even the most festive of film lovers have to accept that films of the same quality as The Santa Clause series (yes, there’s more than one) and Deck The Halls would be laughed out of Hollywood boardrooms without the tie-in to the Christmas period.
The studio execs aren’t happy with just thrusting otherwise poor films upon the cinema going public once though. If they can’t come up with a tedious new premise that can be flogged like a financial piñata, they are more than happy to regurgitate the same overly chewed films over and over again. Minimum effort, maximum cash cow. One of the festive films considered a classic, Miracle on 34th Street, has been released no fewer than five times. Surely there’s only so many ways a film can be ‘re-imagined’ without patrons noticing Hollywood’s laziness.
Christmas movies often get a bad rep. Overly sentimental? Cheesy? Far-fetched? Perhaps, in some cases, but that’s also true of a handful films of all genres. Look at classic Christmas films, like It’s a Wonderful Life – over sixty years after its release it is still entertaining audiences across the globe. The Glasgow Film Theatre is just one cinema which screens the timeless Frank Capra movie every Christmas Eve, and sees people flocking through the doors to enjoy the festive mood the film is sure to generate.
It’s often said that Christmas isn’t what it used to be. The world is moving at such a fast pace nowadays, and while the manic shopping and elaborate decorating are still very much present, they have, in recent times, become incredibly materialistic elements of the season, and the real spirit of Christmas seems to have been lost – certainly for adults. The magic of Santa Claus ensures that children remain excited about the festive season, and the traditional, religious side of Christmas is, for many, still very much a part of this time of year. But sadly, overall, the festive season isn’t quite as special as it used to be.
So, how can we reignite the Christmas spirit in ourselves and our friends and family? Christmas movies! Yes, they may often feature a predictably snowy Christmas morning, and the story might end up all wrapped up in a neat little parcel (pardon the pun)… but surely it is worth it to feel festive? Very often specifically ‘Christmassy’ movies are what bring families together at this time of year. The ritual of watching films like It’s a Wonderful Life can be what signifies Christmas Eve, or Christmas afternoon, for family groups. The power of the television or film screen (look no further than the beloved Coca Cola advert) to bring a little festivity to the modern manic December is well worth holding onto!
Though they may paint an unrealistic picture, Christmas movies can’t do any harm… can they? If you insist on being a Scrooge just change channels!
Written (and debated) by James McLaughlin and Lynsey MacDonald