25 Days: The Snowman
The Snowman (1982)
Based on the children’s book by English author Raymond Briggs, The Snowman has no dialogue, and yet it is the Christmas movie most likely to make me cry every year. Like the very best silent films, it achieves through music and facial expressions nuances of emotion that other films can’t do with a full script.
The plot is a simple one. A young boy builds a snowman. At midnight the snowman comes to life and the two of them explore the boy’s house before flying off together to attend a snowman party with Santa.
It’s just so beautiful—a work of art really. The animation has a soft, colored pencil look that adds to the dreamlike quality of the whole thing. The movie feels mysterious, magical, and ultimately somewhat melancholy. It captures the feeling you get when you wake up in the middle of the night and wander around the house—especially as a child—when everything is unnaturally still and quiet, as if you’ve entered a different world entirely.
The scene I think most people think of when they think of The Snowman is the flying scene. The first half of the movie feels so intimate, confined to the boy’s house, that when they go flying out into the night sky in the second half it’s suddenly almost overwhelmingly expansive. I don’t know precisely what it is—the dramatic music, the sweeping landscapes, the sense of wonder the whole scene evokes. I do remember that even when I watched it as a kid I knew I was seeing something very different from other cartoons.
Watch The Snowman. It’s short; you have time. It’ll be a lovely moment of quiet away from the chaos of the holidays.
Extra: As an aside, I also watched Father Christmas (1991), which was made by the same people and was on the same DVD. It was cute enough, but the book version is way better.
Tune in tomorrow for Day 11: It’s a Wonderful Life.