Christmas for me is about family, Father Christmas, carols at midnight Mass, and festive food. It’s also about having a big dose of television, in the form of a classic Christmas movie. There are so many great Christmas movies, which have been made over the years, and some pretty awful ones too. It’s guaranteed that we’ll sit around as a family this Christmas and watch at least some of the more memorable ones. Christmas movies have two things that set them apart from other movies. Firstly, there is always a “message”, that you should be grateful for what you have, be kind to others for example. And there’s always a happy ending. So whether you’re staying in Beijing for the holidays, heading back home, or to a hotel somewhere nice and hot, try and watch at least one of these fabulous festive movies this Christmas.
A Christmas Carol
For me the 1984 adaptation (there have been many) based on the story by Charles Dickens published in 1843, is by far the best. The story of an old miser named Scrooge, who learns compassion when three ghosts visit him on Christmas Eve. It’s a fabulous movie and has an important message, that’s relevant to all of us still today.
This very funny Christmas movie is about a boy who was raised by elves. When Buddy the Elf, played by Will Ferrell, heads off to New York to find his real dad, he has a tough time fitting in, what with his elf costume and all that. Eventually, he manages to win over his new family, and bring Christmas spirit to even the most jaded New Yorkers.
In 1990, Macauley Culkin starred as an 8-year-old who gets left behind when his family takes off for vacation. While he’s home alone, he’s forced to deal with two burglars who are planning on working their way through the neighborhood to steal Christmas gifts. Using his wit, and a few crafty traps, he manages to ward off the burglars and reunite with his family just in time for the holiday.
The Polar Express
Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis reunited for "Polar Express," an adventure based on the beloved children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. A young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.
It’s a Wonderful Life
What holiday movie list would be complete without this 1946 classic? Whilst it doesn’t sound full of Christmas cheer – a man, financially ruined, is about to commit suicide during the holidays – you’ll be relieved to know that he is stopped by an angel who shows him what life would be like if he’d never existed. It’s charming, romantic, and celebrates life.
Miracle on 34th Street
In this sweet 1947 movie, a Macy’s executive tries to find a new store Santa. She hires an old man named Kris Kringle who claims to be the one-and-only Santa Claus. Of course, such claims can get you into trouble and Kris ends up being hospitalized for being delusional. Hope comes in the form of a young man who wants to help Kris prove that he is really the true Santa.
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
You can’t help but enjoy Jim Carrey as the reclusive green Grinch, in the 2000 adaptation of the beloved children’s tale by Dr. Seuss. The Grinch decides to ruin Christmas for the people of Whoville, by sneaking into town to steal everything holiday-related. However, the Grinch hadn’t expected to encounter the cute and endearing Cindy Lou Who.
The Wizard of Oz 1939
Not strictly a Christmas movie, but in the UK it’s always been shown on TV during the holiday, usually on Boxing Day. From the very first time I watched it I fell in love with every character, and have without fail watched it every year since. I am now introducing it to my own children, because a film that is still popular 75 years after it was made, really says something.
For those unfamiliar with the story, when a tornado rips through Kansas, Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her dog, Toto, are whisked away in their house to the magical Land of Oz They follow the Yellow Brick Road toward the Emerald City to meet the Wizard, and on the way they meet a Scarecrow that needs a brain, a Tin Man missing a heart, and a Cowardly Lion who wants courage. There’s singing, dancing, a horse that changes color, and a whole lot of magic. What more could you want for Christmas.
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.