After a long term of essays, reading, lectures and additional work, it comes as a relief to be back at home over the Christmas break. I feel like every year, although we happen to be in a completely different place in our own lives, some things never change. Christmas time is one of those things. However, saying that, quite a few people (myself included) have acknowledged that somehow Christmas is less exciting every year. Perhaps it is something to do with the fact that we’re growing up and, if you’re like me, you find yourself helping out prepping the food or baking something in the days leading up to Christmas as opposed to just sitting there and relaxing everyone else does the hard work. For the lucky ones, that is still very much the case. But at the end of each day this holiday, it is hard to ignore the fact that Christmas (and all that encompasses Christmas) is everywhere we look – including on our TV screens. But this is not a bad thing at all. I have found that watching Christmas movies can really get you into the festive mood and there really is something for everyone.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – directed by Frank Capra
This is a real classic Christmas film that tells the story of ‘George Bailey’, a businessman who feels swamped with work, family commitments and community issues that he has to answer for. He has spent his life abandoning his own ambitions in favour of helping people out. Just as he is about to contemplate committing suicide, he encounters an angel, ‘Clarence’, who shows him what life would have been like for everyone if he didn’t ever exist. It takes him seeing all the opportunities pass him by, his family no longer existing as he knows them and people suffering because he was not there to help them as he had done in reality, for him to understand that he loves his life and who he is. The line “no man is a failure who has friends” used by the angel in a letter just goes to show that Christmas is about being together, helping the community and doing good for others.
Home Alone (1990) – directed by Chris Columbus
If you’re looking for a film that will make you laugh – look no further. Home Alone is one of the most famous and best-loved films that comes on TV perhaps every year. No matter how many times you watch it, you’re guaranteed to laugh at least once. The film stars a young Macaulay Culkin alongside screen heroes, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. ‘Kevin’ is left behind by his family as they plan to go on a family vacation and ends up being home alone over the holidays whilst two burglars are in town, targeting big houses on Christmas Eve. With imaginative traps, quick thinking and a ‘can do’ attitude, we are left wondering whether we, at eight years old, could have pulled it off as well as he does in the film. It is a great watch for all the family and keeps a good Christmassy spirit throughout as ‘Kevin’ learns to appreciate his family.
The Polar Express (2004) – directed by Robert Zemeckis
If you prefer to snuggle up on the sofa and watch a heart-warming animation, The Polar Express ticks all the boxes. The story is about a young boy who embarks on an adventure to the North Pole on Christmas Eve where he learns about friendship and much more along the journey. Tom Hanks’s recognisable voice is present throughout as he voices the train ‘Conductor’ who makes sure nothing prevents the train arriving on schedule. The animation is wonderful and the snowy setting and characters in pyjamas really makes the audience feel it’s winter time.
The Holiday (2006) – directed by Nancy Meyers
Whilst it can technically be defined as a Rom-Com, this film still has the Christmas spirit throughout. We see Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz swap homes when their current situations get too much for them and they need to do something spontaneous. Whilst one ends up in a luxury L.A house, the other retreats to an English cottage in Surrey where life on either end is very different to what the women are typically used to. However, they manage to adjust to new settings and encounter various people who make them discover things about themselves for the better. Jude Law and Jack Black also star in the movie and let’s just say, if you’re a fan of Jude Law, this movie highlights how well he pulls off glasses. The Holiday is a really nice film all about new friendships, romances and about understanding that sometimes you have to try something a little crazy to experience the best in life.
The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) – directed by Bharat Nalluri
This film was one I spotted as I was browsing through ‘Netflix’. The Man Who Invented Christmas is a fairly new film based on Charles Dickens and his life at the time of writing ‘A Christmas Carol’. It is an interesting look at Victorian social issues, the struggle of the writer, the origins of such a beloved classic, the potential inspirations for characters and so on. I didn’t know what to expect when I pressed play, but it really was a good watch. Nearly everyone is familiar with the story centred around ‘Scrooge’ and the ghosts that make him a better man, but it was nice to see it told from a slightly different perspective that connected the story to its roots.
There are so many more Christmas films to get you in the festive mood and all of these will be showing on TV soon (if not, they will certainly be on ‘Netflix’ or ‘Amazon Prime’) so if you are stuck for things to watch and can tolerate some seasonal movies, what better way to countdown to Christmas than to sit back, relax and escape into another world from the comfort of your sofa?