“Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind.”- Miracle on 34th street.
Since the advent of motion pictures in 1888, the concept of movies and the season of Christmas have embraced a strong common ground. Capturing the joy and energy of this day has enthused filmmakers as well as the audience for over a century now. The production, ‘Santa Claus’ is a one-minute movie which dates back to 1898, and is noted as the oldest movie on Christmas ever to be made. This was the film that gave an opening to hundreds of more creations that would come in the following years.
Live Motion Pictures
At this time of the year, there are fiery debates about whether a movie qualifies to be a Christmas classic or not. A controversial topic, purists have argued for long that for a film to be considered a ‘Christmas Classic’ it has to suitably evoke the spirit of Christmas. The other side believes that as long as the movie is set during Christmas it does enough to become a holiday season movie. Popular movies that are in this grey area include the all-time action classic Die Hard, Gremlins etc. The first movie that could be properly classified under the Christmas genre is the 1946 special, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Like most ideas that are in the wrong era, “It’s A Wonderful Life” tanked at the box office but later became critically acclaimed and earned the title of being the first Christmas classic.
The Home Alone franchise is another Christmas classic albeit one closer to our generation. Set in the days leading up to Christmas it brings out the most important parts of the holiday season. Cherishing time with your loved ones, fixing broken relationships, carols, food and a Christmas miracle finale, there’s no movie that brings out the spirit of Christmas better.
Harry Potter, arguably one of the best fantasy series in our generation, also celebrates Christmas but with a magical twist. Although there are only flashes of the celebrations in the movies, the film still manages to incorporate some elements of the festival. Feasts with scrumptious food, Christmas trees decorated with breath-taking accessories and the exchange of magical gifts is enough to make you wish that you were a part of the fantasy. We see that the spirit of Christmas is present and thrives even in an alternate reality.
Animated Motion Pictures
Besides live motion pictures, there have been significant achievements in the line of animated Christmas movies. The earliest of these dates back to 1933- ‘The Night before Christmas’. It is a production of Walt Disney which portrays Christmas Eve as Santa roaming around delivering his gifts. Till date, Disney productions often use this festival as the theme for their work. Directed majorly for the young viewers, these movies show a concoction of kindness, compassion, friendship, and various other human emotions that help in developing positive attributes in children.
Walt Disney Productions
Over the years, Walt Disney Productions has used popular fictional characters to spread their fame worldwide. In 1956 Disney released ‘Pluto’s Christmas Tree’, which had Mickey Mouse and his dog Pluto as protagonists. These characters had widespread recognition and further popularised many Christmas traditions such as exchanging gifts, kissing under the mistletoe, and the joy of giving and sharing.
Walt Disney has given the world of animated cinema his entire life. His creations and his cartoons, in many ways, big or small, have changed the way we see or celebrate this festival.
Another famous cartoon which has used these festivities in their shows is ‘Tom and Jerry’. This M.G.M production first aired its Christmas special in 1941. It was only a short episode, but it gained great popularity. The next proper movie was ‘A Nutcracker Tale’ released in 2007, a well-known film even among today’s generation.
The Ninth Reindeer
The most notable Christmas fan fiction development was the creation of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’, written by Robert Lewis May. It is a story about an adolescent reindeer who has a glowing red nose. As he is different from the rest, his friends and peers always ignore him and never allow him to “join in any reindeer games”. However, on a snowy Christmas Eve Santa asks Rudolph to act as the ninth reindeer to pull his sleigh. This story has been used in many primary schools in India as well as in other countries as part of formal moral education. The song for the short cartoon film, titled the same as the movie, is recognized even today as one of the most popular Christmas carols.
There are numerous Christmas traditions around the world but one that has great appeal and emotion is rather a simple one; gathering around the table with family and friends, sharing joy and happiness while watching a Christmas classic together. After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Spending time with loved ones and creating beautiful memories?
~Image Credits- Google Images
~Artwork by Haripriya Bhamidipati
~Written by Tejas Mishra and Visesh Murali for MTTN