“… there goes Mister Grim.” And here comes The Muppet Christmas Carol to bring joy to all at Christmas.
Everyone has their own list of favourite Christmas films. As with everything else Christmas-related my list is the right list, obviously, (though I would be very interested in taking recommendations). And here it is - in absolutely no order of preference: five films, and a bonus TV series.
(1) The Muppet Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, with the Muppets! Why wouldn’t that be amazing? It is probably the best of the Muppets’ films, and very possibly the best film version of A Christmas Carol - in capturing the gothicky ghost story and the abundant joy of Scrooge’s salvation. There’s snow, there’s food, there’s chills and spills and humour. And there’s Stadtler and Waldorf as Marley and Marley. No one’s going to not have this on their list, right?
Potentially more divisive, as your feelings about this may depend on your general feelings about Will Ferrell and/or Zooey Deschanel. I am generally agnostic about the merits of Will Ferrell and his comedy brand, but I am a big fan of Zooey Deschanel, and of good naturedly sentimental fuzziness about the bringing of Christmas cheer, the magic of Santa, and of snowy New York, which I would like to see for myself one day.
(3) It’s a Wonderful Life
Do I need to explain this one? Even reading the plot synopsis on wikipedia makes me sniffly. There’s just something about the way it holds all the pains of a life and the way Christmas can magnify them right alongside the power of one person making good choices and the joy that a life well lived brings. And crying now.
(4) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
This counts as a Christmas film, for me, because of the Yule Ball, primarily. But it’s also my favourite of the Harry Potter films, being the one that really seems to get the British Boarding School aspect and the humour of the books, along with the epic story. This is the scene where McGonnagall teaches the Gryffindor students to dance. Watch Neville be the bravest - and of course, he gets the most joy out of the whole ball, which is a shimmery, snowy festival with a perfect waltz number (and a crazy band, fronted by Jarvis Cocker).
(5) The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Is it odd that a story that is, at heart, about the Easter story, has become so attached to Christmas? I don’t know, but somewhere in between the snow and the story of family, it has. While the later films do odd and unnecessary things to the books (especially The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), the first does exactly what it should in telling the story and telling it well. The young cast are lovely, especially little Lucy, and Harry Gregson-Williams’ theme for Aslan, running from peaceful to full-orchestra-weight manages to capture all the power of the Lion.
Of course, one of the other reasons Narnia is associated with Christmas, is because of this: the BBC’s 1980s series of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. It might have terribly ropey 80s effects, an unfortunately cast Lucy (I’m sorry, she’s just wrong, always has been, and just becomes more painfully so once you’ve seen Georgie Henley as Lucy in the film), but put that credits tune on, and I am seven years old again, sitting in front of the TV in the living room at 6 o’clock on a Sunday evening, with my toasted banana sandwich and cup of asparagus soup (creature of habit, creature of habit…), ready to fall through the wardrobe.
* And your bonus Christmas TV - that is not the BBC’s Chronicles of Narnia: The Box of Delights
“If you see someone, tell them someone is safe” Older even than the BBC’s Narnia, this scared the bejeesus out of me the first time I saw it. I’m still nervy of wolves because of it. It’s proper good scare the children warm the heart stuff, full of myth and magic, and Christmassy goodness.