BY VICTORIA PIGNATELLI
Snowflakes, red ribbons and the sentiment of joy seem to cover the period of time from the day after Halloween to Christmas. Autumn ceases to exist in the media’s eye, while winter swoops in and covers the American media landscape for the next two months. Every year, this holiday season creeps into stores and media outlets earlier and earlier.
From traditional holiday-themed commercials, and most broadcast sitcoms showing their holiday specials, the season spreads to any and all modes of media and communication. However, there is one form of media that the holiday seems to embrace, like a long lost old friend: film. Nearly everyone has a favorite holiday film. Of course, that is a generalization, but holiday films permeate further than popular culture. Some holiday films have become traditions to watch and are always shown during this time of the year.
To understand the popularity and permeability of these films, their history should be examined. Of course, “Its A Wonderful Life” is one of the classics. Since 1947, this film has been a holiday tradition for many families and individuals.
“I need to watch it every single year on Christmas Eve,” said avid film buff Kimberly Calvert “In my family, there hasn’t been a year that I can remember that we didn’t sit down together and watch the movie.” To many families, this film holds a special place as a solid classic.
Throughout the history of film, there have been holiday films during this time of year. According to an article on traditional holiday film, from the earliest silent film beginnings, themes of holiday tidings and cheer have been featured in film. From the silent era on, holiday films have come out every year, right to this year’s “Meet the Coopers,” which is a typical holiday and family-themed film. The actors may change, and the screenplays might differ in the order in which they present the scenes, but for the most part these holiday movies tell the same stories year in and year out. The holiday film is a vast genre that pushes together themes of joy and happiness in order to portray the image of a perfect, ideal holiday.
“Don’t get me wrong, I like holiday movies, but there aren’t enough movies about other holidays,” said Myra Patel, a radiology student at County College of Morris. “I love the warm and fuzzy feelings about the season, family and togetherness, but what about Kwanzaa? What about Hanukkah?” Patel’s voice is not alone in standing out among the sea of red, gold, Santa Claus and snowflakes.
Holiday movies as an entity are cliche, yes. When observing holiday-themed films over the last 10 years, it is plainly obvious that there is a lack of diversity in holidays portrayed. With Adam Sandler’s “Eight Crazy Nights” the public had the rare opportunity to see a Hanukkah-themed film released as a major theatrical event. Unfortunately, that film’s performance in the 2002 holiday season was abysmal, which probably made studio executives believe that other films about the holiday would not perform well.
On the flip side, there are those who believe that the holiday film genre is alive and well, producing beautifully crafted and wholesome films that project positive images for the holiday season.
“There is no mistake that when you watch a Christmas or holiday themed movie that you get a sort of warm and fuzzy feeling, said Tessa Cammarino, a student of history at CCM. “I know my family watches “Elf” together to get in the holiday mood, right after Thanksgiving,”
When it comes to holiday films, traditions and emotions take control and create a feeling of comfort for many different people. The holiday season comes with togetherness, family and the end of a year. It is a time of looking back, progressing and looking forward to a new future with a new year on the horizon.
As a genre, holiday films are a keystone in the filmic fabric. They encompass a time period, yet they each show its viewers a little piece of the values and important feelings of the era in which they were made. Holiday films are special, as they show a special time of the year for everyone on earth. No matter the religion or race, holiday films have the potential to create a sentiment of hope and joy in any of their viewers.