christmas films to get you over the michaelmas blues
Well everyone, it’s that time of year again. Grafton Street is lit up with shining lights, the city centre is crowded people buying presents and shops have began to blare Christmas FM on their radios. Yet, despite all this festive cheer around us, we’re stuck in the library, frantically finishing assignments or studying for exams so we can get on with the festivities.
To help you all through this trying time, our TFR contributors have compiled a helpful lists of Christmas films to get you through the end of Michaelmas Term. So sit back, ignore that pesky essay, and immerse yourself in the holiday spirit!
A Christmas Carol (2009)
- Emily Thomas
A Christmas Carol (Robert Zemeckis, 2009) is an extremely atmospheric adaptation of the Dickens novel. It captures the darker features of the story, accentuating them to great effect. Jim Carrey is Ebenezer Scrooge, a cantankerous, miserable man whose greed has engulfed his life. He is visited by four ghosts, including the spirit of his recently deceased business partner Jacob Marley, who try and convince him to change his ways before it is too late. Although the story is well-worn, having been adapted into film no less than 19 times, this version brings new life into the tale. The dark, evocative animation style immerses the viewer in wintery Victorian London and emphasises the spookier elements of the plot. The visual and tonal similarities to The Polar Express present the film as a stylistic sequel to Zemeckis’ earlier project. The star-studded cast provide us with a refreshing take on perhaps the most famous Christmas story ever written: Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Bob Hoskins and Robin Wright lend their voices to iconic characters we all know and love.
Looking to laugh, cry and be scared this holiday season? Look no further as this adaptation ticks all the boxes a Christmas movie should.
Meet me in St. Louis (1944)
- Grace Kenny
Transport yourself from assignments to 1903 fairs and watch Judy Garland at the peak of her career (the latter is arguable). Hated by half my relatives and half my friends (and probably yours too), placing the 1944 musical Meet Me In St Louis in the DVD player over the Christmas season is a power move!
The film is divided across the four seasons, and although some may say that this isn’t a Christmas film, watching Christmas and Halloween scenes in January is not going to feel the same as it does during the most wonderful time of the year! If Judy Garland singing ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ to her younger sister does not warm your heart for the festive season, I question what else will! Meet Me In St Louis also takes place in a time where cars, mass-consumerism, and even the popularity of film didn’t exist. With the stress that comes with the various deadlines in all aspects of life in the build-up to December 25th, sometimes the best coping mechanism is an escape to a magically unfamiliar time. With the Christmas period being largely associated with familial affection, nostalgia, and sentimentalism, this is one of many seasonal films that combines all three emotions effortlessly.
home alone (1990)
- Shane Hughes
Home Alone (1990), is one of those Christmas classics we’ve all at some point found ourselves watching, curled up next to a fire on a dark winter’s eve. Macaulay Culkin's mischievous charm, cheeky grin and hilarious antics, might keep him off Santa’s good list each year, but it definitely makes for some top notch comedy. Home Alone, is the family friendly equivalent of Die Hard. Culkin replaces a balding Bruce Willis as the protagonist out to get the bad guys, taking much pleasure in doing so. Home Alone is a holiday film stuffed with many memorable moments, some of which have gone on to take a place in pop culture history. Comical scenes such the when Kevin’s mother, midway through a cross Atlantic flight realises she’s left her son home alone at Christmas, make for great holiday escapism. Yet at its core, Home Alone, a film filled with ridiculous antics, is nothing more than a tale on the importance of family and keeping your loved ones near. One of the films final scenes in which Kevin wakes up on Christmas morning to the sight of his mother in the hallway, unable to believe his eyes, still make us well up with emotion, almost thirty years later. I mean who can’t relate to Kevin’s iconic line “guys I’m eating junk and watching rubbish,” during the holidays of all times?
Father christmas (1991)
- Sam Mooney
Honestly, I don’t know what my Christmas would be like without this film. I can’t remember a year where myself and my brothers haven’t sat down in front of the TV and video player, then DVD player, and now our laptops and watched this 25-minute animation together from the creator of The Snowman (1982). Despite now all entering our twenties and living away from home it has become our most welcomed and cherished tradition when we meet in December. Switching on the film and hearing the comedic genius that is Mel Smith’s voice, Father Christmas is the most perfect start to the holiday season. It tells the story of a fed-up Santa Claus that just wants a ‘bloomin’ holiday before another ‘bloomin’ Christmas commences. Mr. Claus is obviously the most overworked man on December 25th; a lonely, grumpy, whisky, wine and cocktail downing, chubby old man. He is so un-PC and against the traditional jolly grain that it makes the film is hilarious. Santa just wants a nice relaxing break before the holiday season picks up again. We get taken through a year in his life from December to December and the preparation that goes towards that one night a year. The one liners are witty, full of innuendo and adult humour that only the voice of Mel Smith and the beautiful animation can cover up and pull off. Father Christmas is cold, fed up and too “wide” to be doing this job anymore. This comedic Christmas animation depicts Father Christmas as any other person slightly fed up with their job, but at the end of the day they pick themselves up and get on with it because the outcome is always worth it. Granted, he does get help from daily glasses of whiskey to lift his spirits. So, if you have 25 minutes to spare between studying or dodging relatives this Christmas, grab some hot chocolate, a selection box or even a hot whisky and give this film a watch…. you won’t bloomin’ regret it.
The nightmare before christmas (1993)
- Hiram Harrington
The darkness of the season needs some livening up; so why not go for a dark, weird, wonderful musical to cheer yourself up? Tim Burton’s stop-motion classic The Nightmare Before Christmas is the perfect slice of Christmas fun and adventure with a spooky Halloween twist to keep it fresh. The age old question may still ring in your ears: is it a Christmas movie? Is it a Halloween movie? The answer is: Who cares!
Following the story of the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, Jack Skellington, TNBC sees him discover the once-hidden Christmastown and fall in love with the holiday cheer. Growing tired of the gloom of the Halloween season, Jack decides that for that year, Halloweentown is going to do Christmas for the children of earth. With creepy consequences, and a worried lover Sally at his side, this is one adventure that can only go wrong.
As a recovering teenage emo kid, this film was the centre of my cultural universe for far too long, but my love for it has been reignited. The carefully detailed animation coupled with songs that range from absolutely bopping tunes, to emotional power ballads, results in a film for all ages; and a film that will create goths for generations to come.
The Muppet christmas carol (1992)
- Hugh Conlon
You know the score. Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine), the archetypal miser, is visited by a procession of spirits on Christmas Eve who force him to reflect his life and show him the consequences if he does not change his ways. With Muppets.
What raises it above other productions is Caine’s stellar performance. Despite a supporting cast of larger than life characters, Caine integrates seamlessly into their world and is never upstaged by his felt brethren. Indeed, the reverse could be said to be true. When informed by two charity collectors (Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker) that many of the poor would rather die than go to workhouses, Caine callously declares that “if they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population”.
This is also an extremely faithful adaptation of Dickens’ novella. Despite their child-friendly charm, The Muppets don’t compromise or dumb down the intended message of Dickens’s work. Most notably with the absence of our omniscient narrators, Gonzo and Rizzo, during Scrooge’s scenes with the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come. A truly Dickensian approach, wouldn’t you agree?
- Ren O’Hare
Richard Donner’s Scrooged, a re-imagination of Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’, was as frequent a feature to my Christmases as the ritual of getting a Christmas tree was in my childhood, and while not free of problematics, it still retains a certain mystical air. The kind of air we imagine Christmas should have, and that the best Christmas movies do have. Scrooged uses the iconic structure as a means of exploring the character of Frank Cross (Bill Murray), an aptly named character. This character, while undoubtedly the central focus, is used as a device to depict the wider lives of those around him, reminding him of his smallness, which in turn leads to many positive changes. The mixed emotions portrayed in the character of Cross's journey in understanding ‘the true meaning of Christmas’, lends to capturing the wider melancholy of Christmas, and though reinforces the importance of a positive outlook, especially in our relationships. It lends to a nuanced look at the Christmas season, reminding me that the preparation of Christmas often outdoes the day itself, and that, that is okay. Perhaps I also enjoy this film because of nostalgia, and the ecstatic feeling I got as a child when I felt like I was watching a film for adults. As an important side note, it taught me what cremation was, and led to my smaller self, contemplating how I would want my body to be treated post-death, and what death would be, so that’s something too. All in all, I haven’t seen this film in too long, and plan on digging out the old DVD of it this Christmas.