Here are a few Christmas movies that really make the holiday for me:
- “Arthur Christmas.” This is a new favorite; a kids’ movie though I have only watched it from an adult perspective, appreciating the quick humor, imperfect family, and sci-fi explanations of that whole Santa-delivering-presents-to-everyone thing. As a Santa-story, I wonder why I like this one so much; the reason is the magic it somehow embraces, and the twist examining what makes someone important.
- “A Muppets Christmas Carol.” All cheery goofiness – and then Jacob and Robert Marley pause their creepy ghostly song to shudder at the horrors they’ve done. This isn’t just a kids film! Curiously human, someone has said that this adaptation is the one Dickens himself might’ve liked best.
- “A Christmas Carol” with George C. Scott. This beautiful adaptation has it all – a haunting snowy Victorian location, wonderful actors, lovely music, faithfulness to its source material. Its Ghost of Christmas Present is no kindly Father Christmas, and the threat of Scrooge’s lonely death and the slow wasting away of Tiny Tim seem real.
- “It’s a Wonderful Life.” No list of Christmas films would complete without it! But – what a movie. It’s a story of an ordinary life, which might have been extraordinary and therefore seems a failure. Yet George Bailey has lived his life well – and his darkest moment is nothing to the darkness his absence would leave.
- “The Chimes of Midnight.” Ok – this technically not a movie, but a “Doctor Who” audio adventure. But Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without it! There’s even plum pudding. It starts as a ghost story mystery with a lot of a dark humor. But as it goes on, it grows darker until an ending that is devastating. And splendid. If you get time travel stories, then definitely check this out!
Thinking about each of these stories, one theme emerges from them all: The importance of the small things – those which are despised by the world – and especially the little people who don’t seem to matter: Arthur the failure who goes on a quest to ensure that one child gets her present, Scrooge who pursued worldly success and lost everything else, the important little friends of Bedford Falls, and Edith Thompson the scullery maid whom no one could ever love. After all, that is what Christmas is all about: How, perhaps, in the eyes of Heaven the Tiny Tims may be worth more than the great things of the world.