Film Reviews

Christmas Favorites: The Snowman (1982)

Starring: David Bowie, Raymond Briggs, Mel Smith

Director: Jimmy T Murakami, Dianne Jackson

It’s Christmas, and a little boy builds a snowman which comes to life and takes him on a magical adventure, including a meeting with Santa Claus.

What Is It?

This animation is almost totally silent, except for the famous, haunting song, “I’m Walking In The Air”. It’s an adaptation of the Raymond Briggs book, which was hugely popular, and the animation style captures the books style really well. Originally a TV special, the film became a classic and there was even a sequel and a UK advert that parodied the film. There are different versions of the film, which have a narrator introducing the story, who was played by David Bowie, Raymond Briggs himself or Mel Smith.

Why Do I Love This One:

This one reminds me of by brother because I seem to remember him liking this one and even having some of the merchandise from the film, which really is before my time and would have come out before his time too. So there’s a layer of nostalgia there for me. It has the Raymond Briggs look, which is really distinct and beautiful, that makes it so British and also so magical.

What I remember about Raymond Briggs books is sadness. I remember When The Wind Blows, I can’t remember if it was a film or the book, and it’s devastatingly sad. A couple try to follow the futile government directions for what to do if a bomb is dropped, and they’re so innocent and earnest as they slowly succumb to radiation. Cheerful, right? Beautifully illustrated and very insightful, all the same. I seemed to remember that this film also had a sad ending, so watching it, I was kind of bracing for that, but watching it, I felt like the ending meant that snowmen are magical and an end isn’t an end with them. But maybe that’s just me. (Can you tell I’m trying not to spoil it?)

Raymond Briggs, in the early 70’s, lost both of his parents and his wife to Leukemia within 2 years. I think this sadness made his work and his humor gruff, beautifully nostalgic and often sad, but in a wise way. He’s not mawkish or sorry for himself, just aware of the fragility of life. And I think that’s something that children understand and that has meaning for adults too.

If you love animation and childhood nostalgia, this is a beautiful film like no other.

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