Popular Themes in Christmas Films
It’s that time of the year again, when friends and family come together to celebrate the merriest time of the year. So it’s time to pop out that mulled wine and binge watch all the Christmas classics to get into the mood for the holidays.
Over the years, there have been hundreds and thousands of Christmas films with a myriad of tales about the legend of Santa Claus, or stories about falling love and believing in the t of Christmas. This holiday season, we’ve compiled some of the common themes in Christmas films that inspires the spirit of Christmas.
Family and Home
Christmastime is a universal holiday where the family is in the heart of celebration, which is why family and home are quintessential themes in Christmas films. They often incite feelings of nostalgia and comfort. These films often foster family values and the idea of returning home with plots that revolves around a family reunion. In Miracle on 34th Street, Susan’s wishes for a father and a baby brother for Christmas. Many Christmas films feature an average family or protagonists that are related to one another. For instance in The Christmas Chronicle, the main characters are siblings.
In Santa Clause, Scott’s actions are motivated by his family, He decided to take up Santa’s coat in order to convince his son, his ex-wife and her husband that Santa Claus is real. In Elf, when Buddy finds out that he was adopted by the Elves, he goes out in to the real world to find his true parents. Christmas films also explore dysfunctional families like in Krampus. A young boy makes a regretful wish after a chaotic family dinner. He later learns that families deserve unconditional love.
Returning to a childhood home or town is common in holiday films. The home is often portrayed to be a safe haven for characters. For example, in Home Alone, the house and and the household items are used to ward off invading burglars.
Every year, there’s always a new romance released either on streaming sites or in cinemas, and that’s because love and Christmas are often intertwined. Whether it’s a cheesy, bright Hallmark movie, where the leading lady or man falls in love with a charming royal, or a blockbuster film featuring famous actors of the time. These stories often revolve around the idea of finding (unexpected) love or going through the trials and tribulations of being in a romantic relationship or even simply learning how to open one’s heart to idea of love. A paradigmatic romance Christmas film is Love Actually, a film that explore the stories of nine different couples as they navigate their own lives and romances with the holiday season set in the backdrop.
Films often bring out the question of faith by challenging whether the magic of Christmas and the existence of Santa Claus are real, and eventually drawing out faith in other aspects.
In Miracle on 34the Street, controversy was brought upon whether Kris Kringle is Santa Claus (or whether Santa Claus is real). This also leads to other faith issues, like when Kris Kringle says, “if you can’t accept anything on faith, then you are doomed for a life dominated by doubt.” Fred also questions, “which is worse — a lie that draws a smile, or a truth that draws a tear?”
Another example is Polar Express. In the film, children have to learn how to keep their faith in the magic of Christmas and Santa Claus. Eventually, audiences are drawn to the quote — “seeing is believing, but sometimes, the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see” — such as friendship, love, kindness, and so on.
Certain values such as forgiveness and charity are often associated with the Christmas, so naturally many film based their stories on teaching or reminding people of these values.
“A simple act of kindness always sparks another.” is probably one of the most heartfelt lines in Klaus. A film about a spoiled postman forced to work in the harrowing town of Smeerensberg — a town inhabited by warring clans with hatreds in their hearts — and changes it for the better with the help of Klaus through random acts of kindness and generosity. It’s a simple story about being kind to they neighbour but effective while also retelling the legend of Santa Claus.
Another example of a Christmas film where a smug and nasty character finds redemption and learns to be kind is the resentful green-furred Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
Christmas is a time for friends as much as it is for family. No matter where you are from or the circumstances you live in, you will make friends in unexpected places. This is true for the children who board the Polar Express. Their one night of adventure to the North Pole bonded them for life. After all, “there’s no greater gift than friendship.”
Scrooge is the most iconic character in the Christmas story canon. A Christmas Carol is a story told and retold for decades. It’s the story of the stingiest man you could ever meet, travelling with the ghosts of past, present and future to see his life from the outside in order to learn the value of being kind, and charitable to others in need.
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