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Old vs New: The Debate


Harriet Large weighs up the true meaning of a Christmas classic. 

Image credit: BBC
Image credit: BBC

December is upon us and this can only mean one thing… it is now socially acceptable to whip out the endless supply of Christmas DVDs, sit in front of the television, hot chocolate in hand, and let the overwhelming sense of Christmas cheer envelop us. But which yuletide film will take your fancy this festive season? Will it be a timeless Christmas classic or a modern-day blockbuster?

As someone who is completely adverse to change and takes great pleasure in routine, I am one for following traditions and Christmas is no exception.

Each year my family are subjected to watching an endless array of festive films in the run up to 25 December (the majority of which they have seen countless times), and my word, do we have a good selection.

First, we begin with the ultimate classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. No matter how many times you see this perennial Christmas favourite, you will never fail to appreciate its warmth and sentiment. With a delightful song and dance sequence, visually witty moments such as the dance floor that converts into a swimming pool during a feverish Charleston competition, and sophisticated dialogue, this is a true masterpiece.

Next on the list: The Snowman. With its charming plot and enchanting musical score, this classic has been bringing yuletide cheer for years. The flickering, broad-strokes animation style truly makes this movie look like a picture book come to life. This nostalgic tale is short but sweet and a must-see during the festive season.

Image credit: Image.net
Image credit: Image.net

Then we move towards the modern era of Christmas films. Movies like Love Actually and Elf come into play, with their jovial characters, laughs a-plenty and thoroughly engaging stories. These comedic masterpieces are not to be missed under any circumstance. The real question is will these contemporary movies ever compare to the old-world charm of the classics?

It is true, perhaps, that in this day and age, directors see the festive period as an excuse to capitalize on the holiday spirit. Thus endless Christmas movies with no real sentiment or creativity are consistently churned out.

These low-budget spin-offs somewhat tarnish the magic of Christmas films with their awful plot lines, non-existent humour and complete lack of yuletide cheer. Examples include Black Christmas, an awful Christmas-themed horror remake, Surviving Christmas, a Ben Affleck disaster, and Four Christmases, a generic American comedy with a dreadfully predictable plot.

However, it would be unfair to generalise all modern films as a calamity. In fact, there have indeed been a select few produced in the last decade which could easily be classified as classics, take Miracle on 34th Street or Home Alone. They skilfully combine the romanticism of the classics with the contemporary twist needed to appeal to the population today.

When all’s said and done, any Christmas film that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside and heightens the feeling of festive spirit is a success in my eyes; the year of production is insignificant. If there’s a positive ending, plentiful amounts of snow and an abundance of Christmas cheer, then that’s good enough for me!

Harriet Large

Are you an old-school stickler or a Christmas innovator? Let us know on FacebookTwitter or by commenting below.

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