December 20, 2013, by Eve

Christmas: The Movie; or, A Question of Genre

Back home for Christmas. And the lists have been written up. Lists for the Christmas party; Christmas decorations; baking ingredients; still-to-buy presents; and (most importantly) what-films-to-watch. 

Films. Movies. Whenever I think of the Christmas holidays I think of slumping on the sofa and watching a family film. For some people it’s TV series and, I have to say, this Christmas holiday I have started watching Sherlock … I will leave my comments for another blog… however, Christmas movies have always been the main things to watch in our household.

When discussing and arguing which films to watch an interesting issue often arises, one which I will now elaborate on, the issue of what exactly makes a film a Christmas film?

I have a bit of a theory about this (It Happened One Night quote? Anyone?) – a Christmas film can’t just be a film which has Christmas in it. Loads of films have Christmas in them – like Harry Potter, Catch Me if You Can or Iron Man 3.

All of these are fun to watch, at Christmas or any other time of the year, but Christmas in a film does not a Christmas film make.

A Christmas film is something you watch at Christmas, for Christmas. This is only the first requirement – because you might have films you only watch at Christmas due to some family tradition. For us it’s Five Children and It – it’s not a Christmas film but it’s our Christmas film… ok, I hope this is making sense.

So a Christmas film must be something you’d feel awkward about watching another time of the year. But, secondly, it must also be a film which explicitly uses Christmas, and the themes of Christmas, within its central narrative. So all films like Elf, White Christmas, Love Actually and It’s a Wonderful Life all fit this category of Pure Christmas film.

Using this definition, Die Hard – although I know a lot of people say it is a Christmas film – is not. Sorry. But it might be a Sentimentality Christmas film – like Five Children for me.

One problem we have is Edward Scissorhands: Pure Christmas film? Or Sentimentality Christmas film?

  • We only watch it at Christmas and would feel awkward watching it another time of year.
  • It does include Christmas – although not as a major part of the narrative.
  • But it has the themes of Christmas: acceptance, love, kindness (which Die Hard doesn’t).

It’s a tricky one.

Well, I kind of just went ahead and watched it anyway a couple of days ago without even considering its position on the Christmas-movie-ometre.

I guess, in the end, we should accept that Christmas means something different to everyone (acceptance). As long as we’re all having a good time, have enough mince pies and are sitting down with our friends and family (love and kindness) we shouldn’t complain about whether or not the film we’re watching is a 100% Pure Christmas film or not.

The real question is: was this a Christmas blog or just a blog about Christmas?

Posted in Eve