A Julie Garland Christmas: An Exploration of Non-Christmas Christmas Films
As the smell of cinnamon touches our nostrils, we sit in a cosy living room in typical Dickensian fashion. Gathering round the television, we watch those childhood favourites that have become synonymous with festive viewing. Amidst the warmth, the glowing yellow brick road pierces the amber glow of the room, as we listen to the smooth voice of Judy Garland sing “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” It is equally comforting to hear Julie Andrews as Maria sing “The Sound of Music” from the Austrian hilltops? Would Christmas be Christmas without The Wizard of Oz or The Sound Of Music? I explore these films which have a special place in our heart during the festive period. Amongst the great classic Christmas films like Miracle on 34th Street or It’s a Wonderful Life, there are those non-Christmas films which invoke the same warmth and spirit that is present in nearly all Christmas films. When we open our annual festive copy of Radio Times, it is hardly a surprise to see the beloved The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music placed among holiday favourites. Perhaps it is the child within us that allows us to make an exception for these films, given that they have little to do with Christmas itself.
The Wizard of Oz brings that age- old magic we cherish, as Dorothy (played by the great Judy Garland) is transported to the land of Oz, puts on the iconic ruby slippers, and skips down the yellow brick road with the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion. The 1938 film still makes us beam as if we were five- years-old again, just like any other Christmas film. So, maybe it is the magical feeling that the film brings that forces TV channels to play it as if it were any other Christmas film. Or perhaps it is that technicolour gleam from Munchkinland that mirrors the rich colours of red and green painted all over festive displays on most high streets. Though we may not like to admit it, we all wait for it at Christmas.
I defy anyone whose parents or grandparents did not indoctrinate them with The Sound of Music as a child—not that I am complaining now at 18 years of age. Like The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music is one of those classic Hollywood musicals that we have inherited. Though filled with Rodgers and Hammerstein favourites, the rather sinister element, which many would consider to be un-Christmassy, is that of the Nazis entering Austria. But aside from that macabre side of the film, Julie Andrews is splendid as the “will o-the wisp” nun Maria, who leaves the abbey to become a governess for the seven children strong Von Trapps. As Maria teaches them the ways of song and falls in love with their widower father Captain Von Trapp, The Sound of Music is a perfect heartwarming accompaniment to festive gatherings with the family. It is no surprise when the 1965 blockbuster comes on again at Christmas, a time where we, like the Von Trapps, are constantly singing the timeless songs we were taught when we were young.
Maybe it is just that the musical is so joyous that we are helpless to accept it into our wintery nights- in—but who am I to judge when I, too, love these films? That being said, while we cannot ignore our favourites which are actually Christmas films, sometimes we need a break. But why forget the two I have mentioned, when they are magical in their own right? Let us not let these films fade away in the festive period (though I am sure Channel 5 will not), when we delve into our inner child at Christmas time.