Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas movies sometimes forget what Christmas is really about

I was searching online for a new copy of A Child's Christmas in Wales, a wonderful television movie of Dylan Thomas' poem that was broadcast back in the 1980s. My wife videotaped it back then - we are still watching that tape, but I worry about it breaking.

No luck. It does not seem to be easily available except in used copies.

But as I searched I began to think about Christmas movies.

There are many good ones that I enjoy, but some of them have no sense of the true meaning of Christmas: The birth of our savior.  I love the original Miracle on 34th Street, for example, but God is missing.

God is there in a number of movies, at least indirectly in some cases, with prayer and angels - The Bishop's Wife or It's a Wonderful Life, to cite two examples. A pivotal scene in Home Alone takes place in church. A Christmas Carol mentions going to church (Bob and Tiny Tim do go at least), and, of course, there's Tim's famous line, "God bless us, everyone."

But where is God or Jesus in The Santa Clause? A Christmas Story? Or even the aforementioned A Child's Christmas in Wales?

Some movies really just focus on Santa, and not always in a positive way, (Mr. St. Nick) (which is a poor movie anyway) or romance (almost any tinsel-tinged Hallmark Channel movie), or the secular celebration of family rather than the holy day celebrating the birth of the Messiah.

Some movies are just downright bad as movies - The film version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or The Santa Clause 3, or Scrooged. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (yes, there is such a movie) falls into the bad movie category, but it is so bad it has it's own strange charm! 

And some movies promote a changing world view that is in contrast to the true Christmas story. The Santa Clause, a movie that I actually enjoy (forget the sequels), has some real issues when it comes to normalizing divorce, absentee fathers, and blended families. And that business of Santa dying, ech.

A Christmas movie does not necessarily have to be overtly religious, but there should be some acknowledgement of faith. After, all, that's what Christmas is really about - and without it, we wouldn't mark the day.

As for me, there are some Christmas movies I like despite the lack of religion. Some are really out there.

Ones I like and happily watch again and again:

Miracle on 34th Street (the original, not the remake)
A Child's Christmas in Wales
It's a Wonderful Life
The Bishop's Wife
A Christmas Carol - the Alistair Sims, George C Scott, and Muppet versions!
The Nativity Story
3 Godfathers - John Wayne as a cowboy, bank-robbing wise man??
The Homecoming (essentially the pilot for The Waltons)
Home Alone
White Christmas
The Santa Clause (despite the reservations)
Die Hard - (yes, even with the violence and language, it's a well-made movie set at Christmas time)
Joyeaux Noel - what if all soldiers just declared their own truce as they did in WWI? (I just wish they had not included that unnecessary sex scene.)

A couple of television shows make the list as well - the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Karloff is wonderful), Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and It's a Wonderful Red Green Christmas.

Hey, I never claimed to be normal!

Pax et bonum


Do Not Be Anxious said...

Okay, I'm intrigued. I liked most of your top picks, but the Child's Christmas in Wales I had never heard of before. So I just did a quick look on Amazon, and there is a DVD there, but it doesn't mention how old the movie is. Before I buy (trusting your recommendation), is this the one you refer to?

A Secular Franciscan said...

If it's the one based on Dylan Thomas' poem with Denholm Elliott - yes, that's it. It's the poem told as a story by a Grandfather talking to a grandson about his own youth. A very sweet program.