by BEBE HODGES '18
If you were to take one look at the pictures to the right, would you be able to distinguish the movies to which the scenes belonged to? Most people would have trouble doing so, for the pictures appear remarkably similar because of the clichéd final kiss scene. The scenes, from the recent Christmas movies Love Actually (2003), The Holiday (2006), and Holiday in Handcuffs (2007) are not nearly as memorable as scenes from classic movies like Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and A Christmas Story(1983). While many Christmas movies made in the late 90s and early 2000s take a predictable and superficial romantic approach, the “classics” have original and unforgettable pieces that have instantly become icons for the Christmas season. With the exception of a few bright spots like Elf (2003), modern Christmas movies simply fall short of the older, unique “classics.”
One may be wondering, “What makes a movie a classic?” This is a movie that is watched and enjoyed decades after its creation. It usually centers on crucial themes like love and death or offers something to believe in. A “classic” also includes memorable pieces and scenes that are easily identifiable. Most importantly, it has universal affinity and appeals to people of a variety of backgrounds and ages. The “whole family can enjoy” idea is present in both Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story through the issues that are relevant to both children and parents.
Miracle on 34th Street persuades people to believe in Santa Claus and bringing out their inner child. Toward the end, Susan Walker’s iconic line, “I believe…I believe…It’s silly, but I believe,” just about recaps the movie, as Susan finally accepts the existence of Santa Claus. Even when Kris Kringle asks the little Dutch girl what she would like for Christmas in her own language, the audience is presented with a new concept to believe. He represents unity of people of different cultures and races, an important concept for the post-World War II moviegoers.
Even 30 years after the release of A Christmas Story, no one can forget the Red Ryder BB gun, the risqué leg lamp, and the hot pink bunny suit in the American comedy A Christmas Story. To this day one can drive down the street and see the “fra-gee-lay” leg lamp poking out of a neighbor’s window and without thinking say “that must be Italian.” It also seems impossible to forget Ralphie Parker’s tormentor Scut Farkus’ yellow eyes that continually haunt the Ralphie and his friends Flick and Shwartz. But not only is A Christmas Story remarkable because of these icons, it is so great because any child can relate to the terror of being forced to wear an embarrassing outfit as well as the terrible desire for a present that seems unrealistic to one’s parents.
Modern movies simply lack this one-of-a-kind plot and humor that causes A Christmas Story to play for 24 hours straight every Christmas Eve on TBS.
An abundance of the Christmas movies made in the last two decades fail to match the family fun and memorable concepts presented by several of the classic Christmas movies. Miracle on 34th Street has aspects of the typical love story, but the heartwarming admiration Susan has for Kris Kringle is much more meaningful than a predictable kiss in modern Christmas movies. Furthermore, with the conclusion of Ralphie getting his gun but injuring his eye because of its kickback, the audience is left with a unforgettable ironic finish. Classic movies are unique, with endings that are far more memorable than the “boy getting the girl.” With this in mind, one can pop in a movie like Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story and make any Christmas evening a classic with a classic.