In a previous post, iUniverse discussed several books that we recommend at this time of year, as they are redolent of good Christmas cheer. Today, we take this focus to the world of movies and TV, with some great suggestions on how to infuse more Yuletide spirit into your life over the next few weeks. It’s a season which, occurring at the end of the year, can been seen as the culmination and reward of a year of hard work and getting through life’s struggles. And here at iUniverse, we want to make sure you get the most out of it!
So here is some “Recommended Watching” for this blissful season:
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas: We are of course referring to the animated version from 1966. Based on the storybook by Dr. Seuss, The Grinch tells the tale of an antisocial miser who attempts to sabotage the villagers’ Christmas by stealing all of its external qualities – decorations, presents, and the million other terms Seuss uses to describe them. What he learns is that Christmas is an internal phenomenon that cannot be taken away. At 25 minutes’ running, even the busiest person during this season has time to watch it. No excuses! There’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit.
A Christmas Carol: Also based on a book, A Christmas Carol – like The Grinch – is Dickens’ tale of a miser who seemingly has no love for his fellow man. Nonetheless, the main character, Scrooge, is lucky enough to get a warning from beyond the grave of what awaits him if he continues being an inhuman curmudgeon. While there are numerous versions of this film, there are two that we specifically recommend:
- The Alastair Sim version, from 1951, captures the “Englishness” of the atmosphere. Sim’s pre-epiphany Scrooge is indeed formidable in his coldness.
- The George C. Scott version (1984) presents a somewhat more affable Scrooge, with a very talented supporting cast, including renowned thespian David Warner as Bob Cratchit.
Home Alone: No matter how many times you’ve seen it, Home Alone does not fail to usher in the spirit of the season. The film is an excellent mixture of aesthetics (the family’s house), music, Christmas, and comedy – the latter being seen in two bumbling cat-burglars, who, in their idiocy, are impossible to completely dislike. In addition to the antics of a boy left home alone, there is also the subplot of the old man next-door reuniting with his estranged son. In nearly every way, Home Alone exudes what we love about Christmas.
Die Hard 1 and 2: If you crave a bit more “bite” to your Christmas stories, don’t forget about Bruce Willis saving the day in the first two entries in the Die Hard series. The song “Let it Snow” will never feel the same after watching these films!
It’s a Wonderful Life: This film, with Jimmy Stewart at his best, seems to be watched less and less every year, which is a pity, as its message truly embodies Christmas. Like A Christmas Carol, it has elements of the supernatural, though its ending really shows the best aspects of human nature.
Christmas Vacation: The third installment in the Vacation series, we again see Clark Griswald (played by Chevy Chase) striving for the ultimate family-bonding experience, amidst a hefty dose of misfortune and vexatious relatives. There are plenty of laughs here to enjoy along with a glass of egg nog or a mug of hot chocolate.
With an abundance of other Christmas TV specials and movies, there’s no shortage of what to choose from. At the same time, this writer cannot refrain from gently cautioning you to stay clear of A Charlie Brown Christmas, which he finds to be one of the most depressing TV specials – Christmas or otherwise – ever made. Charlie Brown’s lugubrious disposition, and the moroseness of all of his Peanuts friends, permeates the show and runs the risk of rubbing off on you too. As one comedian from Saturday Night Live put it, “Cheer up, kids. You’re seven!” So avoid it at all costs.
If you have suggestions for what else to watch, by all means, please send them in!