A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

<strong class="MovieTitle">A Charlie Brown Christmas</strong> (1965)

(On DVD, October 2018) As the story goes, A Charlie Brown Christmas was commissioned by the Coca-Cola corporation, quickly and cheaply made for TV broadcast and was widely disliked by the network prior to its initial airing. While filmmakers involved in its creation were proud of their work, few could see the appeal in a story overtly criticizing the commercialization of Christmas (in the mid-1960s!), with an oddly syncopated rhythm, strung vignettes and a jazzy score unlike anything else heard before in family specials. Fifty years later, A Charlie Brown Christmas is an undisputable classic: the anti-consumerism message remains as vital as ever, the episodes typify the Peanuts brand of gentle humour, the characters are part of shared culture and Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack stands on its own as an essential piece of holiday music. (I usually play it a few times each December.) The focus on a character who doesn’t find any joy in the coming of Christmas can even hit home for many people overwhelmed by the complexities of the holidays. It can still be watched today with simple joy and a reasonably upbeat message acknowledging the less interesting aspects of the holidays while highlighting its most laudable virtues. Legend has it that one of the animators who worked on the project, Ed Levitt, predicted that “this show is going to run for a hundred years.” Well, we’re more than halfway there, and A Charlie Brown Christmas is still going strong.

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