Mariane showcases some of her favourite less conventional Christmas picks.
The Magic of Christmas
by Sergio Pablos and Carlos Martinéz Lopéz (2019, Netflix)
Klaus is a Netflix animated film that was spellbinding upon its release, being nominated for an Oscar under Best Animated Feature. The wonderful animation brings to life an inspiring story about the role of Christmas as a lantern in a dark and violent world. It is a story of initiation and redemption which is full of hope – an invitation to open up to others but above all to oneself. The sincere simplicity of the film successfully creates a heart-warming experience that is enjoyable for the whole family.
Operation Christmas Drop
by Martin Wood (2020, Netflix)
What would Christmas be without a traditional cliché romantic comedy? Featuring a predictable and slightly cheesy script, and a well known cast, the film offers a nice story with the added interest of a tropical Christmas, filled with fine sand instead of snow. You won’t discover anything revolutionary when watching this film, but I can assure you that you will have a good time.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
by Andrew Adamson (2005, Disney+)
After creating two animated masterpieces – Shrek and its sequel – Adam Adamson tackled the adaptation of the classic children’s tale, Narnia. Coupling family themes and fantasy adventure, the film plunges you into a magical world where you will meet incredible creatures such as fauns, centaurs, minotaurs and even Santa Claus. The main highlight of the film is the soundtrack composed by Harry Gregson-Williams, which is still one of my favourite film scores to date. Not only is it the perfect musical interpretation of the magic of Narnia, it also manages to capture the whimsical spirit of Christmas.
by Matthew Vaughn (2007, Prime video)
Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s darker tale, Matthew Vaughn’s film is more marvellous . This results in a film full of magic with colourful characters interpreted by great actors such as Robert de Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Mark Strong. Like Tristan, the film’s protagonist, the viewer escapes from the world as we know it and sets off on a fantastic adventure into a realm which is both bizarre and magical. In addition to watching the film, I also invite you to read Neil Gaiman’s book, which will offer you a completely different experience than the film.
Under the blanket
by Ernst Marischka (1955)
I never knew the reason why, but the Sissi trilogy is on French television every year during the Christmas period. Therefore, it has inevitably become a Christmas film for me, after having watched it with my whole family for years. This film possesses the grandiose aesthetic of the films of the 1950s, with enchanting decor and the beautiful Romy Schneider looking sublime in her period costume. One finds oneself in the great Bavarian spaces of the 19th century, that are only abandoned in exchange for the sumptuous Austrian castles where the love story between Sissi and the future emperor is drawn.
by Gillian Armstrong (1994, Prime video)
Not only a story about Christmas, Little Women is a period piece, creating an atmosphere that perfectly corresponds to the holiday season. It is a cheerful, melancholy and humorous film in the characteristic style of the 90s, following the March family over the span of several years, exploring their dreams, ambitions, journeys of emancipation, sorority and love. While there is a more modern adaptation by Greta Gerwig, I recommend watching the 1994 version.
A darker Christmas
The Hateful Eight
by Quentin Tarantino (2015)
Though often omitted from Tarantino’s career, this film offers an alternative winter experience: a freezing snowy setting but without the traditional Christmas joy. Featuring a strong cast of eight well known actors including the masterful Samuel L Jackson, The Hateful Eight is a dialogue driven narrative with Tarantino’s characteristic style. This film is brought to life through its stunning visuals and charismatic performances.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
by Charlie Kaufman (2020, Netflix)
Christmas is not a happy time for everyone (think: family reunions). This film is heavily uncomfortable throughout, and reveals the inner workings of mental illness. Completely surreal and disturbing, and set during the winter season, this film will satisfy any desire for sincerity and fragility that many of us seek or feel during the Christmas period.