Seasons greetings! Railgunfan75 here with the first of my contributions to the Mad Maz Reviews Holiday series. As is evident by the number of reviews being posted on this site, there is a large number of holiday movies/specials being released each year. Some have proven to be modern classics, some have been forgotten over time, and others have proven to iconic even after many years. One iconic Christmas special is the subject of this review which turned 50 this holiday season. The special is a Charlie Brown Christmas.
Christmas approaches for Charlie Brown and the gang. While the others are enjoying winter and the holiday season, Charlie Brown is depressed. Charlie Brown is searching for the true meaning of Christmas which he feels has to be something beyond the commercialization which occurs every year. Searching for answers, he seeks the advice of Lucy. Lucy suggests that he needs to get involved in the school Christmas play as the director to raise his spirits. However he finds that those involved don’t want do a traditional Christmas play. After becoming more depressed and not receiving the answers he seeks, Charlie Brown becomes even more frustrated. At that moment, Linus presents Charlie Brown with the answer he seeks- the true meaning of Christmas.
This special is really a fun one to watch. I have always been a fan of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang. There is something special about these characters that is a bit hard to put into words. Maybe it’s the fact that many of us know someone like one of these characters or can directly relate to them. Either way these characters can be related to even by today’s standards.They re[resent parts of ourselves and remind us of simpler times. These characters are also a great outlet to convey this message as their natural personalities make a great fit. Who else but Charlie Brown would be the one to question the nature of Christmas. Who better than Linus to provide the insightful answer to his question. The characters are one thing which makes this special work really well.
The story in itself will make you laugh and make you think. I find it fascinating that comments people make today concerning the commercial nature of the holiday were also echoed a half century ago. That message rings true even stronger today in this age of media bombardment. Over the course of 25 minutes, the special does a great job of making you think about what is truly important this time of the year. However, it doesn’t do it in a preachy manner, it does it in a very entertaining manner with some humor attached. The humor is the other half of the story which is also timeless. The special captures nicely what it is like to be a child at Christmas time and makes light of it. From writing letters to Santa to dreaming big concerning what gifts they receive, the special reminds the viewer of the excitement of Christmas and the sometimes absurd things we do at Christmas time. This humor adds to the charm because it is genuine. It is not loud or flashy by any means but just a simple humorous look at children at Christmas.
One scene which best captures this dichotomy is the one involving the the Christmas tree. There is a reason that you can buy the tree in stores as it is iconic. The idea of a metal tree is indeed hilarious along side with the image of the tiny tree. While the idea of buying such a tiny tree is funny, it also emphases the message of the special. By picking the tree, Charlie Brown decides to go against the Christmas culture and the wants of everyone else by giving the tree a home. He shows us that Christmas doesn’t have to be flashy to be celebrated right.
I do have to give a quick shoutout to the music in this special as well. The jazz take on some traditional classic songs is a pleasure to listen to both in and outside of the special.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of those must watch holiday specials. Not only is it a charming story concerning the true meaning of Christmas, but it also contains fun and clean humor for both children and adults. In addition despite it’s age, the special has aged exceptionally well. It reminds us of both the magic and the cultural problems of the holiday and encourages us to remember the reason that we celebrate Christmas. If you haven’t already, check out this special. It is truly a classic and worth your time this holiday season.
Trivia (Source: Wikipedia/IMDb)
-In December of 2015, A Charlie Brown celebrated it’s 50th birthday. It first aired on December 9, 1965.
– The special was commissioned and sponsored by the Coca Cola company as a outlet for advertising for the company (and yes that is a bit ironic).
– The soundtrack for the special was composed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. The album for the soundtrack went platinum. The upbeat song that the gang is dancing to during the rehearsal is entitled “Linus and Lucy”. It has also become a holiday staple.
-The Movie Broke many of the rules prevalent for animated holiday specials during the 1960s: it didn’t make use of a laugh track; real children were used for the character voices instead of adult actors imitating children’s voices; and Biblical references were used to illustrate the true meaning of Christmas.
– Bill Melendez tried to talk Charles M. Schulz out of using Biblical references (especially Linus’s speech) in this special. Schulz reportedly won him over by saying, “If we don’t do it, who will?” As it turned out, Linus’ recitation was hailed as one of the most powerful moments in the highly acclaimed special.
-A Charlie Brown Christmas was the first animated Peanuts special.
– Production ended ten days before it premiered.
So until next time this is railgunfan75 signing off and wishing you Happy Holidays!