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The Snowman deservedly won awards for its animators. But they had the best material to work with: Briggs' softly absorbing original illustrations which magically combine Christmas fantasy with the stark realities of life and death.
For this new special edition a new audio narration has been provided by Mel Smith which will help to bring it alive for younger children. The rest of us will probably be satisfied with Howard Blake's evocative soundtrack and, at the cynic-damning moment when the snowman takes the boy's hand and they soar into the sky, the tingling strains of "Walking in the Air" sung by Peter Auty, (not Aled Jones who had the chart hit on the strength of a commercial). It's enchanting, from beginning to end.
On the DVD: The Snowman Special Edition is presented in 16:9 aspect radio with a stereo Dolby Digital soundtrack, fusing Raymond Briggs' soft, glowing pastel work with Howard Blake's sympathetic score in 26 minutes of animated perfection. The extras are fascinating: David Bowie's original introduction, demanded by the US producers who needed a celebrity to front the project (he looks ridiculously exotic); and a documentary in which the surviving collaborators and Briggs talk with touching awe about the little bit of magic they created. The commercial might of The Snowman as a marketing brand is also revealed. The lumpen vox-pops are the only irritation. --Piers Ford