THE SNOWMAN – A British Christmas Classic

By Marty Mulrooney


With Christmas nearly upon us, I thought I would do a quick post about one of the greatest Christmas films of all time. Based on the 1978 Raymond Briggs children’s book, The Snowman is a 1982 animated winter classic.

Shown originally on Christmas Eve ‘82 on Channel 4 in the UK, it has since been shown every single year. A review would be pointless; this is a perfect, if not slightly bittersweet adaptation.

What I do intend to do is offer a few good reasons why you should give it a watch this Christmas, British or not. Oh, and Merry Christmas from Alternative Magazine Online!

  • The Animation – this film really is like the children’s book brought to life, it hasn’t aged a bit. The lack of movement in scenes actually adds to the storybook presentation. The white of the snow is still breathtaking, a world every little boy and girl would want to wake up in.
  • The Lack of Voicework – just like the more recent Lost and Found (another brilliant British short, we interviewed director Philip Hunt here) the lack of voices helps to bring a focus to the music and visuals, both of which are phenomenal. We don’t need words: it is all there on screen.
  • The Introduction – there have been several introductions over the years, the one I always remember most starring David Bowie as little boy James, all grown up, still with his scarf (usually shown in the USA!). The most commonly used one nowadays of course is Raymond Brigg’s version of Father Christmas (voice by Mel Smith) recounting how he met the boy all those years ago. Regardless, it is always a nice feeling knowing the film is about to begin!
  • True to Life – running downstairs excited for the snow. Scolded for not having your socks on. Hitting the window with a snowball and those initial moments where you aren’t sure if you got away with it or not. Hats placed on heads by mothers who know all too well they won’t stay there for very long. The Snowman hits a lot of nails on their collective heads for a children’s film… it successfully reminds you of being a child again.
  • The Snowman – our titular character is wonderful as he explore this new world, fascinated by light switches, making us laugh as he swaps his nose for various fruits. Along with the little boy, we fall in love with The Snowman’s purity and innocence.
  • The Song – Walking In The Air, performed by St Paul’s Cathedral choirboy Peter Auty, is simply beautiful. Often covered (a big hit for Welsh Chorister  Aled Jones) yet in my opinion, never bettered. One of the greatest television moments of all time, a young boy and his snowman flying to the North Pole, accompanied by a haunting  audio accompaniment that we will never forget. Magical.
  • The Hints – there are moments in the film that as an adult, almost make you wince; we know what’s coming. The Snowman going faint near the fire at the beginning of the film. The Snowman startled by hot steam from a tap. The Snowman’s thighs glowing from the heat of a freshly ridden motorcycle. For a 27 minute long children’s film… there is depth and sadness in every scene. Heartbreaking.
  • The Final Scene – in case you haven’t seen The Snowman, I won’t spoil this part. But shame on you if you haven’t! This is a wonderful film that is as much a part of Christmas as turkey dinners, Christmas trees and socks you didn’t really need. The ending still has the power to make fully grown men tear up (and half-grown men such as me!) which certainly says something about the power of its storytelling. So why not give half an hour of your time this Christmas to watch an absolute classic? You won’t regret it.

Merry Christmas from Alternative Magazine Online!

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Filed under Alternative Musings, Film, Television

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