We’ve all got that one film we associate with Christmas despite the fact it is most definitely not a Christmas movie. Maybe it has one tiny scene with a Christmas tree in. Or maybe it’s just always on TV over the festive period. Whatever the film, and whatever the reason, there’s just something about it that makes us want to whip out the fairy lights and a mince pie. Our writers discuss their favourites:
While You Were Sleeping, dir. by John Turtletaub
Ok, so this film does take place in and around Christmas and NYE, but the holidays are only being sadistically used as a device to show us just how lonely our heroine Lucy (Sandra Bullock) really is. Lucy’s would-be Prince Charming Peter (Peter Gallagher) gets pushed off the tracks at the metro where she is working on Christmas day and ends up in a coma. But it’s not all bad, because he has this wonderful and crazy family moving around like a pack of animals at his bedside. Mistaken for Peter’s fiancée, Lucy gets brought into the family and that’s where she meets Jack (Bill Pullman). You see, it’s a rom-com at heart, as Lucy falls in love platonically with the Callaghan family and romantically with Jack under the pretence that she’s their son’s and his brother’s fiancée, a man who she only ever loved superficially – she never even spoke to the guy. It just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside when the world outside isn’t too warm or fuzzy.
Casablanca, dir. by Michael Curtiz
If you peruse the Radio Times TV listings every time the Christmas season rolls around, Casablanca will always be in there somewhere. For what reason, besides from it being a bona fide classic? Yes, it may be set in December, though there’s no sleigh bells or Santa Claus. Simply put, the Bogart-Bergman romance resonates so much during the holidays because it’s a morality tale. Christmas is a time to cherish those we love, a time where we want nothing but peace on Earth. So, whether it be in fantasy worlds via Lord of the Rings or through other Hollywood classics like The Wizard of Oz, tales of good vs. evil will always be enjoyed at Christmas as we remember what we live and breathe for. Michael Curtiz’s film ultimately ends with love being sacrificed, for the greater good, in the war against the Nazis. In this case Rick and Ilsa’s union cannot be, but good will win. When it comes to a non-Christmassy Christmas movie with just the right sentiment: here’s looking at you, Casablanca.
Eyes Wide Shut, dir. by Stanley Kubrick
A masked cult orgy may not be at the top of your Christmas list this year, but maybe you’re just pulling crackers with the wrong people. Marking his final contribution to cinema, Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut is just about as far from festive as things get. A slow and deliberate musing on fidelity and the expiration of lust and love, it is fair to say that the master’s last stroke of the brush is a bleak one fairly void of red and green glitter. Yet, set at the most wonderful time of the year, Eyes Wide Shut is littered with a Saint Nick aesthetic; Christmas trees provide cultist triangles, fairy lights are both integral to the art direction and visual reminders of betrayal of family, and the film even concludes in a hopeful sequence at Hamley’s. Though it may not be your traditional Christmas present, it is certainly wrapped like one.