My Favourite Christmas Films: The Snowman


Yes, ’tis the season and as we all know, one of the best things about Christmas (at least in Ireland) is that there are always tons of great movies, shows and other pieces of erstwhile entertainment that is never shown at any other time of the year. Besides the usual Christmas movies like Mary Poppins and Back to the Future, there is always the venerable Christmas Special. Of the TV shows out there, the greatest are always broadcast with certainty. Morcombe and Wise, your favourite soap opera and of course, the greatest of all, Father Ted.

Christmas is always a great time for animation fans too. Seeing as a huge majority of mainstream (and not so mainstream) animated films are kid-friendly and with plenty of kids at home around the holidays, you can be guaranteed to find some lovely films being broadcast. There is always a good selection of premieres but also plenty of favourites too. For the remainder of this week, I’ll be focusing on Christmas films because, well, there’s not much else to talk about is there?

One of my all-time favourite Christmas films is the version of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman. Irish people are incredibly familiar with this film partly because for years (maybe even still), An Post ran a Christmas ad based on it.

If you are not familiar with the film, it’s a great piece of animation and storytelling produced by the English TV station, Channel 4. It tells the tale of a young boy who creates a snowman one day and the adventures the two engage in once he comes to life, such as making a piece of toast, and dressing up in the parent’s clothes. The film’s most memorable sequence involves the two flying over the English countryside to the sounds of “We’re Walking in the Air” as they travel to visit Santa Claus.

It’s a fantastically simple film (most likely because it is based on a children’s book) and although it clocks in at around half an hour or so, it is perfect in length.

Interestingly enough, there is no dialogue in the film save for the aforementioned song. Thus, the characters are very much left open to interpretation by the viewer with the bulk of the characterization being handled by the animation itself, which retains the pencilly look from the original book. There are some dramatic scenes that are all the more fascinating in that they were created without any computers at all.

The film was made 28 years ago in 1982 and has gotten to the point where kids who originally enjoyed it back then are starting to enjoy it now with their own kids. As a result, the film has a perennial quality among the Irish and British populations. The fact that is was produced by a TV station ensures that it is broadcast every year.