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Merry Christmas to all and to all a good (movie) night


By Tara Yilmaz

From “The Grinch that Stole Christmas” to “A Christmas Story” Christmas is a time to grab a bucket of popcorn, and ‘tis the season to watch old and new holiday movies.

→ Did you know the first movie about Christmas was made in 1898, and you can watch it for free on YouTube? This silent, black-and-white short is less than two minutes long. According to the site Nerdist, “The director was an early film pioneer named George Albert Smith, and although the camera tricks seem crude by today’s standards, they were revolutionary at the time.” The film used a technique you might recognize from modern films called “parallel” action, showing Santa Claus on the rooftop through a circular iris lens while two children lay asleep in a bed.

→ Did you know there are too many Christmas movies to count? After scouring the internet for a definitive number, I realized that it was impossible to come up with a figure. Not only are there American (domestic) films to count, but you also must factor in international ones, too. The Hallmark Channel alone has made a whopping 150 Christmas films since it started producing them in 2000. In 2022, Hallmark plans to release 40 more new holiday movies. Hallmark Christmas movies are in a category by themselves.

→ Did you know there are different genres of Christmas films? At first thought, it doesn’t occur to you that there are subgenres in the Christmas movie category. But after dissecting the movie titles and premises, the subgenres become more evident. Categories such as “A Christmas Carol” adaptation, “The Nutcracker” adaptations, Christmas action films, Christmas horror films, thrillers, short films, and children to name a few.

→ Did you know some people consider “Die Hard” a Christmas film? I know we did in our house growing up. Three classic movies were shown in heavy rotation in our old home on Woodlow Street. “A Christmas Story” (1983), “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989), and “Die Hard” (1988). If my family was in a festive spirit “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964) galloped across our television. But for the most part, “Die Hard” was our favorite Christmas movie. Through the years, there has been a debate on whether to consider this action film part of the Christmas movie genre. The premise of Die Hard is a New York City policeman John McClane played by Bruce Willis visits his estranged wife and two daughters on Christmas Eve. He joins his wife at her office holiday party, but the festivities ended abruptly when a group of ex-Volksfrei terrorists from Zittau, East Germany takes over Nakatomi Plaza in a scheme to heist $640 million bearer bonds. Being the sole policeman in the building, McClane rises as the hero.

→ Did you know to qualify as a Christmas movie the plot and characters must be structured around Christmas? This makes the case for “Die Hard” as a part of the Christmas canon because McClane is returning home for Christmas. The villain attempts to steal Christmas joy. Santa Claus makes an appearance and the musical soundtrack features Christmas songs. A climactic scene hinges on a recently gifted watch. Christmas films run the gamut from classic and sentimental to action-packed and irreverent. If the man in the red suit doesn’t get you ho, ho, ho-ing, then repeat the words of John McClane to get you excited for the holiday and say “Yippee-ki-yay…!”



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