Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Christmas tradition


Some years ago I started a Christmas tradition of my own. Each year - usually Christmas Eve - I watch Miracle on 34th Street. I alternate between the 1947 original (starring Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara and Natalie Wood) and the 1994 remake (starring Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkins, Mara Wilson and Dylan McDermott).

For those who are yet to delight in Miracle on 34th Street, you really must see it.
Apart from being a wonderful story, to me it is a reminder of the power of belief...that anything is possible if you believe. It touches the child in me and reignites my positive feelings.
I realise I risk sounding sappy, but if there's any time of the year when it's OK to be sentimental then surely it has to be at Christmas.
For Miracle on 34th Street virgins, it tells the story of Kris Kringle, a jolly white-whiskered man hired to play Santa Claus at a department store who believes he is the real thing. A little girl, Susie, is among the skeptics he encounters. She has been raised by her mother (a store executive) to believe only in reality.
I don't have a favourite version but there are aspects of each I particularly like.
The original has something a little more magical about it. I think the remake has a little too much cynicism creeping in at times. Perhaps you could say that's a reflection of the collective community of 1947 compared to 1994.
For me Edmund Gwenn and Richard Attenborough are equally as good as Kris Kringle. They are both totally believeable - well, they are for a sap like me!
Gwenn did win the 1947 Oscar for best supporting actor for his performance. The original also won the Oscar for best original story and best original screenplay.
Mara Wilson, the 1994 Susie, is my favourite. I like her impish cheekiness - obviously something 1947 Susie just would not have.
My favourite scene in the 1994 version is when a deaf girl visits Kris in the department store. Her mother explains that she's just happy to see him but Kris signs to communicate with her. (Aaahhh!) In the original it is a recently-adopted Dutch girl who does not speak English and, of course Kris can speak her native tongue.
If nothing else, Miracle on 34th Street is a feel good family friendly movie ... whatever version you get your hands on. And there's no better time than the festive season to watch it.
I look forward to watching it again this year, alongside my sons aged 7 and 3 and possibly my partner if he's inclined. Tell me what you think of it.



1 comment:

katiecrackernuts said...

I haven't seen it. Will try and find a copy at the local DVD stores. Since DVDs have become so cheap and so available online I find the hire stores rather depleted. One near us closed and another is half the size.
Sounds good. I like a good sappy movie. Recent releases, go check out The Painted Veil. It's a good-un.

Things I like

  • Being eco-aware
  • Chocolate
  • Generosity
  • Good food and good wine
  • Kindness and courtesy
  • Laughing out loud
  • Openminded people
  • People who are true to themselves
  • Spending time with friends
  • Sunshine and blue skies

Things I don't like

  • Broken promises
  • Pointless arguments
  • Uncontrolled anger
  • Homelessness
  • Poverty
  • War and conflict
  • Lightning and thunder
  • Small minded people
  • Discrimination on any basis
  • Over inflated egos
  • Mean-spirited people