Helen Murdoch on why we love Christmas films…
Gifts are being wrapped, trees are being propped up and the smell of mince pies is at every turn, it is of course Christmas, our favourite time of year. As a certified film addict, Christmas is the time of great movies as well, which got me thinking about what it is we love about them?
Although we’re grown up and have a zillion responsibilities, there’s nothing quite like sitting down and watching Home Alone on TV for the millionth time. We love to regress back to our childhood to enjoy the innocence of Christmas; this is why the Christmas film is imperative. We’ve all seen It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street more times than we care to admit but Christmas films have the unique ability to never get dull. Even if you’ve got the DVD in your collection, you’ll happily sit and watch it on telly – ad breaks and all – purely because it’s Christmas. These films capture the innocence of Christmas that we all love and miss; they are our catalyst for returning to childhood.
There’s always someone worse off than you
Christmas isn’t always a good time of year. You can be skint, having family problems and so on, but with some Christmas films there’s always someone worse off than you to put it in perspective. Think of George Bailey and the genius of It’s a Wonderful Life. Similarly to Pixar’s Up it takes you to the brink of depression before reeling you in for a big finale pay off. We’ve all felt like George Bailey at some point and his silver lining puts things in perspective for us.
Speaking of silver linings, can any of you think of a Christmas film with a sad ending? If one exists I don’t want to watch it. What I love about a Christmas film is that you sit down already knowing that it’s going to pan out well. Of course there are moments of sadness and despair but these are usually rectified or placed next to happier endings. Think of Emma Thompson in Love Actually – her story doesn’t end well but as it’s placed next to the other happy endings it softens the blow and adds an element of realism. Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York have their sad moments but that makes the pay off at the end even greater. Even an unconventional Christmas film like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has a happy ending.
They come in all shapes and sizes
Christmas films are diverse to say the least. From Love Actually to Die Hard, directors and writers have continued to surprise us with what constitutes a Christmas film. There are the standard films we watch – It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, Love Actually – but then you have a film like Die Hard which is possibly the greatest Christmas film of all time. The cliché that there’s something for everyone is unashamedly true about Christmas films – unless you’re a Scrooge.
Everyone can enjoy them
At this time of year it’s all about family and friends gathering together to eat ridiculous amounts of food and settling down in the evening with a glass of wine or a pint and watching some good telly. TV becomes significantly better at Christmas and there’s something for all ages on each channel. Even though The Sound of Music, Titanic, Sherlock Holmes etc. have nothing to do with Christmas, they’re great for this time of year as everyone can watch them whilst munching on the remaining chocolate Celebrations.
Which Christmas films do you find yourself returning to year after year? Let us know in the comments below…