Polly Cameron – Little Women (1994)
Whenever anyone inevitably starts to ask, ‘what’s your favourite Christmas movie?’ in the run up to the holidays, my answer is always the 1994 version of Little Women. This answer typically gets a look of surprise, as most people expect an answer like Love Actually, Elf, or Die Hard if I want to be ‘edgy’.
Little Women is, and forever will be, one of my favourite comfort films. Its focus on domestic life and everyday problems makes it relatable to all as well as providing a timeless feel despite the material being taken from a book published in the 1800s. I’ll watch it at any time throughout the year but as autumn turns to winter, I find that Little Women is the film I turn to. Although the film rotates through the seasons, the aesthetic is cosy with plenty of warm tones and shots of the sisters by the fire which makes it perfect for the festive season. The film even opens on Christmas day.
When I first watched this film I was eight years old and visiting my grandparents’ house for the Christmas holidays. My grandad put it on for me, we sat together, and I was hooked. I think the reason I love Little Women and find it especially comforting at Christmas is the strong presence of family within the film. Christmas is when you visit those you haven’t seen in a while and spend quality time with them. So many staple festive activities are family or community based: Christmas dinner, carolling and baking. Little Women reflects that atmosphere of warmth and camaraderie we see at Christmas time and that is why it’s my favourite.
Emerson Shams – Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970)
Nothing screams Christmas to me more than a stop motion Christmas film. Extremely popular in America were a group of films that came out between the 1960s and 1990s telling Christmas stories with claymation. Some notable ones were Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer (1964), Jack Frost (1979), and The Year without Santa Claus (1974). However, my favourite has always been Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970).
The film follows the origin story of Kris Kringle who ultimately becomes Santa Claus. While the story is extremely loosely based on the real story of Saint Nicholas (seeing as there is a wizard), it is a fun movie I always enjoyed watching.
The main theme of the film is to teach children that the spirit of Christmas is more than presents, but also the act of giving and kindness. I think this is a really important message to convey, especially given how commercialised Christmas is these days.
Beyond the plot, the film’s artwork is phenomenal. In general, I love claymation, but I especially love the mix of media in this film to add different textures. Colour-wise, the film uses very muted colours to express the sombre life of the world Kris Kringle is trying to brighten. Santa, of course, is in his iconic red suit. Furthermore, in the main characters of the narrator and Kris Kringle, you have the voices of Fred Astaire and Mickey Rooney respectively. And musically, it is what you would expect of the musical world of the 1960s and 1970s, particularly given the two actors starring in it.
Overall, this movie is a must-watch for the Christmas season. If you love it like me, make sure to check out the other recommendations I mentioned as well!
Illustration: Samantha Fulton