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The Allure of Christmas Movies

The Allure of Christmas Movies

By Niamh Roberts

 

1898 welcomed the creation of the first-ever Christmas movie titled ‘Santa Claus’. Since then, they have dominated screens and embedded themselves into Christmas culture across the world, from animations, comedies and love stories, where they encapsulate the joys of the winter months and are a part of most people's Christmas to-do list. But why have Christmas movies become an essential part of the festive season? What is their allure? Here are a few reasons why so many people are enchanted by Christmas movies …

 

Christmas movies are cheesy, cliche and predictable (although perhaps Hugh Grant as Prime Minister in ‘Love Actually’ is an anomaly to that statement), often resulting in critics discrediting them for this reason.  However it is their predictable storylines that are essential to activate an emotional resonance amongst audiences: the music, motifs and inevitable happy ending stimulate nostalgia of festivity and comfort and these shared memories create a feeling of unity providing audiences with a cherished social connection through themes of love, joy and selfless acts.  As the Whos in Whoville wonderfully display by helping the grinch's heart, “grow three sizes” on Christmas day,  Christmas movies can restore people’s faith in a positive society as they contrast to the harsh dramas and TV shows that dominate our screens for the majority of the year. 

 

Subsequently, Christmas movies are a form of escapism, compensating for the stress and chaos that is brought in with the season. The festive season may be more of a desolate period rather than festive for many, the NHS stated that “winter blues” and Seasonal Affective Disorder affect around 2 million people in the UK and 12 million across Northern Europe. Although a ‘trivial’ attempt at combating seasonal blues, Christmas movies can uplift spirits and act as a reminder of why Christmas is a time of love and celebration.

 

Movie makers utilise the liberating feeling of watching a Christmas movie as an engagement strategy, making people return to watching the same Christmas movies each year and embedding them into tradition. The joy of watching a Christmas movie is anticipated throughout the year glorifying the experience of watching, and making it an occasion.

Overall the allure of the Christmas movie is derived in their ability to make people feel good! Unless your name is Ebenezer Scrooge, Christmas is an opportunity to spend time with loved ones and indulge in all the things that make us happy and Christmas movies are a part of that:  for instance according to the Guardian the UK’s voted favourite Christmas film is Elf, they described it as having ‘old-fashioned charm and sweet-natured yuletide spirit’ ultimately embodying  why people enjoy Christmas movies

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In conclusion, the allure of the Christmas movie is one embedded in tradition. They offer a world away from the mundane, something that is unique to the Christmas season, a season that can bring gloomy weather and high costs. Over this year, we have been bombarded with images of war, destruction and hopelessness…is it any wonder why we look for the joy in something as simple as a traditional Christmas movie? Santa? I know him!