This double DVD is great value for money, there aren't many films which evoke the magic of Christmas as well as these do.
The short film 'The Snowman', based on Raymond Briggs' picture book, is animated using pastels rather than blocks of bright colour. This gives it a 'shaky' appearance which evokes memories of childhood drawings, it also adds to the timeless appeal of the film - it has stood out as a family favourite rather than blended in to the background of the early `80s.
The artwork may be good, but what really makes the film is the incredible Howard Blake score. When you think about The Snowman you immediately think of 'Walking in the Air', but it's only when you sit and watch this again that you realise how great the rest of the music is! There is no speech in the film, the only words in the film (apart from David Bowie's introduction) are to be found in one song - so this really does have universal appeal as the evocative music bridges the gap between you and the film and replaces any need for dialogue. The music really does communicate the emotive atmosphere of each scene; as young James finds his snowman has come to life we feel his excitement during his night of adventure. From the highs of meeting Father Christmas to the poignant end - Blake's music is always there in your head heightening the experience.
The second film on this DVD continues in much the same visual style. It's less emotional and the music isn't as memorable - but the upbeat story of a grumpy Father Christmas with a habit of soft-cursing (it's all "bloomin'this" and "bloomin' that"!) is a fun film and still manages to pack in a Christmas song which is now a staple of any Christmas music album (Have a Merry Bloomin' Christmas). Unlike The Snowman there is dialogue here and Mel Smith is perfectly cast as the cantankerous bearded old man. The film is an insight into what Father Christmas gets up to during the rest of the year, after a hectic Yuletide he plans a holiday, but things don't go to plan. Without his red suit he blends in with the crowd and appears just like any other old grumpy Brit abroad!
Father Christmas appeals to all ages but it's adults who will appreciate the humour most, the observations are canny and most will recognise something of themselves in the character. Both the films crossover briefly when James appears in a scene - but Father Christmas ultimately gets back his Christmas spirit and soldiers on for another night of delivering presents.
In a nutshell: A brilliant double feature of two films which should be watched every Christmas. The Snowman is a masterpiece of musical storytelling and Father Christmas is a fun light-hearted look at the man behind the red suit.
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