Hey everybody, it’s been a good while since I last posted, so let’s Christmas up this blog a little!
Last year, I compiled a list of essential Christmas movies. This year, I decided to forgo a list and just spend a little time talking about my favorite Christmas special—one that many people I know seem to be unfamiliar with: The Snowman.
The film is roughly half an hour in length and is based off the wordless children’s book by Raymond Briggs. It tells its story through brilliant crayon-and-pastel visuals and a nuanced soundtrack by Howard Blake.
In its different releases, the film has had three different openings, including one with a voice-over by the author. The version that I grew up watching featured David Bowie (that’s right, you heard me) as a grown-up version of the boy from the story, recounting the adventure he had with the snowman he created. He stands in an attic “full of memories,” his delivery poignant and subdued, setting the tone for a decidedly melancholy film.
“That winter brought the heaviest snow I had ever seen,” he recalls. “The snow fell steadily all through the night. And, when I woke up, the room was filled with light and silence. And I knew then, it was to be a magical day.”
The Snowman follows the exploits of a young English boy who, after a tremendous snowfall, builds a very large snowman. After night falls, the boy looks outside and, at the stroke of midnight, watches his snowman come alive thanks to Christmas magic.
What follows is a charming series of encounters and activities: the boy shows his new friend around his house, careful not to wake his sleeping parents. The two playmates dance, go on a night ride through the nearby forest and, thanks again to a dash of magic, take to the air and fly to the North Pole to meet Santa. It is during the flying sequence that a hauntingly beautiful song plays: “Walking in the Air” by young chorister Peter Auty.
Inevitably, the two must return home and the sun must rise. It is here that the film—up to this point, gleeful and wondrous in tone—takes on a more somber note. I won’t give away the ending for those who haven’t seen it. All I’ll say is that it never fails to bring a tear to my eye.
You might ask why such a bittersweet film is my favorite of the holiday season. The best answer I can give is that it has a certain magic to it—one that’s real and hurts and speaks to the child’s heart in all of us. It’s sweet, tragic, and beautiful, and I adore it. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend a watch.
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful holiday! More posts to come soon!