I’m not really feeling Christmas yet this year and it may take a lot of mulled wine before I pull out the Christmas albums (apart from Spector and She & Him perhaps). Anyhow, Christmas is a good time to settle down to a few films and there’s a certainly lot to choose from, but I’m not ready for Gremlins or Elf just yet so let’s take a little look at the less cheery selection available…
Will it Snow for Christmas – Sandrine Veysett, 1966
This is a pretty depressing film that is about as romantic and sentimental as Jeremy Clarkson with a headache. This film’s about a woman with seven children living on a farm in rural France who considers committing suicide. What more you could possibly want this Christmas? But let’s remember that good ol’ Dickens’ approach to Christmas wasn’t always candy cane sweet. It was honest and gritty and grim, just like this film. All else failing it might conjure a sense of gratitude and relief that your Christmas is (hopefully) not as bad as this!
Un Conte de Noel - Arnaud Desplechin, 2008
Trust the French to pour misery on the jolliest of holiday seasons. Don’t write this one off just yet,it’s a really significant film about family members who gather to decide whose bone-marrow’s compatible with Cancer stricken Catherine Deneuve. Probably won’t leave you in party spirits though.
Christmas Holiday - Robert Siodmark, 1944
Adapted by Herman Mankiewicz from a Somerset Maughan novel this little gem’s about an officer who meets a stunning demimondaine. Said beauty proceeds to break down during mass as she recalls her troubled marriage to a nasty man (Gene Kelly) who is serving life for murder. Worth watching because Gene Kelly is on form.
Scrooge – Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951
This is the grittiest version of scrooge out there. Written by Noel Langley (Wizard of Oz) this British film has a dark menacing quality - a little like boxing day.
Miracle on 34th Street – 1947, James Seaton
A mourning child, Santa put on trial…this one’s a good all rounder.
It’s a Wonderful Life – Frank Cappra, 1946
Again we have a big dose of Christmas suicidal despair and another opportunity to appreciate Gene Kelly, master of the Christmas movie sleazebag role. Fear not this film has an angel, the loveable James Stuart and a happy ending so no need to hit the sherry just yet…
Right better stop there, after all you don’t want to end up glugging Bailey’s and phoning Samaritan’s this Christmas. In conclusion, the British and French approach to Christmas film making is a little...well... depressing but from depressing comes some beautiful and poignant films. If this little lot doesn’t depress you enough this Christmas season may I recommend you grab the Baileys and look up Sophie’s Choice…oh, and don’t forget ‘tis the season to be jolly!