What defines a Christmas movie?
When one thinks of famous Christmas movies, certain ones spring to mind almost immediately but what makes them an actual Christmas movie in the first place?
For films such as ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, ‘Sant Claus: The Movie’, ‘Elf’, ‘Fred Claus’, ‘Bad Santa’ and ‘The Santa Clause’, the use of Santa Claus as a character kind of gives it away. For films such as ‘Holiday Inn’, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, ‘Four Christmasses’, ‘Scrooge’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’, it is the time of year that gives it away, all being set either on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day.
Of course, just because it is set at Christmas time doesn’t mean it is a Christmas movie. Take for example the film ‘I Am Legend’, the viral outbreak takes place on Christmas Eve but you would never class it as a ‘Christmas movie’. How about the film ‘Lethal Weapon’, set during the Christmas holidays? Or even ‘Die Hard’, set on Christmas Eve? Not your typical Christmas movies are they?
‘Home Alone’ is clearly a Christmas movie as the storyline revolves around Christmas time and there is lots of snow (and that always helps in a Christmas movie). There is another movie with lots of snow which is set at Christmas time and yet many people don’t class it as a Christmas movie – Gremlins.
Gremlins is a Christmas movie?
Image via Wikipedia
If you thought Gremlins wasn’t a Christmas movie you are not alone in that opinion. In fact, just today I read an article that stated so:
Gremlins is Not a Christmas Movie by Duff D Moss
On face value of course, Gremlins could have been set at any time of the year and still worked well as a movie but setting it at Christmas time was the ‘piece de resistance’ and helped to set the scene. There are far too many typical Christmas films out there that play on the good-time sentimentality that audiences seem to lap up but always seems somewhat cliched and forced. There are far too many Christmas films that use the same old characters that it becomes somewhat boring and predictable. Same old story-line, different actors. Not Gremlins though.
For those of you haven’t even seen Gremlins – shame on you. For those that have but want a re-cap on the storyline – click here.
There are plenty of obvious reasons why Gremlins should always be known as a Christmas movie. The fact it is set on Christmas Eve is one and the fact that there is lots of snow is another but there are many other things in there but they are very subtle – intentionally so.
Watch carefully and you will notice that in Gremlins when the mother is watching the TV in the kitchen it is the Christmas film ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ that is on. It was an intentional addition to the film. Think about it, Gremlins is the exact same as ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ but only in an opposite land. It may be a rather subtle way to further link it to Christmas but Gremlins never played by the rules.
On a slightly side note. A lot of Americans don’t see this as a Christmas flim because it was released in June. But in the UK, Australia, Finland, Norway and Sweden (among others) it was released in December which might have helped to cement its place as a true Christmas film.
You know what? I am going to go as far as to say that Gremlins is the best Christmas movie ever.
Really? The Best Christmas movie ever?
Yeah, mainly because it is different from all other Christmas movies but also because it has one of the best speeches about Christmas ever:
“The worst thing that ever happened to me was on Christmas. Oh, God. It was so horrible. It was Christmas Eve. I was nine years old. Me and Mom were decorating the tree, waiting for Dad to come home from work. A couple hours went by. Dad wasn’t home. So Mom called the office. No answer. Christmas Day came and went, and still nothing. So the police began a search. Four or five days went by. Neither one of us could eat or sleep. Everything was falling apart. It was snowing outside. The house was freezing, so I went to try to light up the fire. That’s when I noticed the smell. The firemen came and broke through the chimney top. And me and Mom were expecting them to pull out a dead cat or a bird. And instead they pulled out my father. He was dressed in a Santa Claus suit. He’d been climbing down the chimney… his arms loaded with presents. He was gonna surprise us. He slipped and broke his neck. He died instantly. And that’s how I found out there was no Santa Claus.”
And that pretty much sums it all up really!