And by Christmas films, I mean the films I most love and adore watching during the festive season. Some have snow – I think one might actually have Christmas – most do not. But they are movies I would find Very Weird to watch outside of December. There would be A Wrongness to it. So, yes, let us have a mug of mulled wine…I have no mulled wine….nor any hot chcolate. This is rubbish! I didn’t plan for writing this entry at all. Oh well. Cup of tea it is.
The Fellowship of the Rings
Oh, remember that three years where Christmas time meant a shiny new LotR movie? That was a terrifingly long time ago. Let’s not focus on that bit. But hobbits! Gandalf! Magic! Wonder! Oh, they’re a bit good. Just as soon as I hear Cate Blanchett’s opening monologue I feel the warm cosy feeling of festiveness settle over me.
Every year I pop this on while I put up the decorations. Every year I promise myself, yes, this time I will make it through the whole trilogy. And one day I will…one day…
Masters of the Universe
Don’t mock me! I love this film! I love this film so much I did a podcast about how much I love it! (Unjustly Maligned Episode 70.)
But why? So many reasons. The most important is I saw it quite a lot during childhood. And it’s based on a beloved childhood cartoon, and there are swordfights *and* pew-pew lasers. Magic (or what looks like magic) *and* cool future tech. And Dolph Lungren is pretty damned great. I will stand on the hill and insist this is a *great* performance from him.
But the real star, and a big factor in why I still adore this film as an adult, is Frank Langella. He is amazing. Every moment onscreen is exquisite. The snarls, the eyerolls, the humour, the sarkiness, the camp. Magnificent.
The vibe I always get from the 1980 Flash Gordon film is “sci-fi panto”. And I’m down with that. It’s bright and loud and ridiculous. It has Timothy Dalton in green tights giving a Deadly Serious Performance that is absolutely perfect. I love Dalton, I love him for this. He *commits*.
And of course there’s Brian Blessed. You know about Brian Blessed in this movie. *Everyone* knows about Brain Blessed in the movie. Unless of course you don’t. In which case, if you’ve ever been confused by someone yelling “GORDON’S ALIVE”, this movie is the reason why.
The Lion in Winter
Ah, not the most cheering of films, exactly, but the wittiest, the sharpest, the one where you can delight in the sheer glory that is Katherine Hepburn.
In fact, the whole cast is pretty top notch (and, hey, Timothy Dalton again!): Peter O’Toole’s swaggering around, baby Anthony Hopkins is being creepily cold, and the real King Arthur (Nigel Terry aka Arthur in Excalibur) is crying a lot. And I won’t hear a word said against any of them. The whole film is just leaping from one gorgeous line of dialogue to another, and with such style.
If you have family arguments at Christmas, The Lion in Winter is here to sympathise with you.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The Christmas-iest of the Jones films! Also acceptable is Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (don’t look at me like that it makes me all warm and fuzzy, and that’s what a good Christmas film is supposed to do).
Much as I love Raiders, and have seen Temple of Doom, Last Crusade is the one that brings the joy. Marcus is a precious cinnamon roll, Harrison Ford’s Scottish accent is the most lolarious Scottish accent every committed to film, and every scene between Henry and Henry Jnr is a gift. A perfect Christmas gift.
Do I *like* this film, or does my sister just force us to watch it at Christmas? That’s a question I’m not really sure I have an answer for. It does put me off eating sweets, that much I know.
I suppose, if I have to admit to liking one Will Ferrell movie, I could make a worse choice than this.
Another childhood fav that has come to haunt me in the Christmas present. OH WILLOW. Just take a listen to the main theme from James Horner. Deh-deh-deh-DUEH! Deh-deh-deh-DUEH! Great stuff. This filmed deserved Vast Recognition and Success for that track alone.
Of everything in this magical adventure of joy, there are two moments in particular that stick out to me as *particularly* joyous. As a viewer. I suspect they’re less enjoyable as a character.
The first is the opening, where a mother begs a midwife to save her newborn daughter from the commander of the Queen’s guard, who also happens to be the Queen’s daughter. Having five female characters be the ones who introduce you and draw you into a fantasy world, into any world, still feels pretty novel. But it is an opening that never fails to cheer me, despite being grimly dark.
The other is towards the end of the film, where we have two older sorcerous ladies (one of them’s Jean Marsh!) trying to kill each other with magic. It’s pretty great. There’s a lot of zapping and yelling and smashing, and, very pleasingly, there’s some proper trad magic with a fireball countered by ice. And how often do you get to see a couple of middle-aged women fighting it out to the death?