Christmas comes but once a year and when it does it normally starts in September, and we get those pre-Christmas ads, followed by post Halloween ads then post Guy Fawkes ads in the UK, well what normally happens is that as soon as the Bonfires of November 5th are just glowing embers and the smell of gunpowder is still thick in the night air we return home to hot chocolate and on the TV there it is the first of many ads, instructing you to have a VERY merry Christmas, (of course other Christmas’s are available) such as M&S with its sparkle, glam, and law suits against other supermarkets involving a caterpillar made out of cake? (see there is still Christmas cheer around). Aldi’s carrot named Kevin in a night shirt showing a banana called Abananazer what the true meaning of Christmas is (is this working for you)? and of course Holidays are Coming, Holidays are Coming, encouraging us to drink more sugary drinks filled with e numbers and coloring so that we are even more hyper on the big day. And at midnight just as we are trying to get to sleep and that annoying song being used by some retailer in an ad is going round and round in your head you get the last firework of November 5th BOOM out in the still night air waking everyone up, which normally starts a succession of sky rockets loud bangs etc with each person setting them off hoping they will be the last one to do so, why? Because they can that’s why and of course because they are annoying. Also, we have had by November so many Christmas films shoved down our throats on the various Christmas 24 channels, all of which are not even good movies but TV movies that didn’t make the grade to be shown at Christmas starring people who look familiar but are really not. I would add Humbug at this point, but that’s something that has been copyrighted by a Mr. Dickens apparently, so I suppose I could add, Twaddle or balderdash at this point, or even a word that I made up Twaddledash (I quite like the sound of that) but its Christmas, so I wont…..just yet. Anyway, talking of Christmas films, I don’t think there has been a great Christmas film as in about Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus for a while, there was Santa Claus the movie, but was that a good movie? I’ll let you ponder that (I mean Dudley Moore? Really!!!!).
A Boy Called Christmas, is a Sky original movie, that we have been seeing ads for since November first, This year more than any other I think we all need something that is joyous, fun and overflowing with that Christmas spirit and the feelings and emotion that maybe some of us felt as Children. And this film I have to say has those elements, (Twaddledash), it is filled to overflowing with the warm and that mystical aura that we associate with the festive period, and it’s a movie that does this well. Of course, on MMI we focus on the musical score normally, but its Christmas lets live dangerously and maybe discuss the movie too, shall we? Often as a soundtrack collector I will often hear the score before seeing the movie, which is fine because it is the music I am primarily interested in, but its always good to see a movie and listen to how the music works within it, see how it underlines, see how it punctuates and a how it adds depth, atmosphere, and drama to the proceedings. Also, it’s watching the audience in a cinema too, seeing how they react to scenes or sequences that are scored and if the music does its job. Unless of course you get someone catch you watching them and they decide that they don’t want you to watch them, which is embarrassing at times.
Anyway, A Boy Called Christmas is a brilliant family movie with so many feelgood elements, I don’t think I can be negative about it in any way, kids of all ages will adore it, and it will I am sure be returned to every year and watched repeatedly. I have a suggestion when there is nothing on the TV (so like every night) and you are not doing something more interesting than watching nothing on the TV like counting the leaves falling from the ash tree in your garden, why not sit down comfortably lights out, snuggled on the sofa with a warm drink and a snack and just watch the film. You will soon see what I mean. Just watch, don’t analyze don’t judge just watch, take it in and enjoy. It is nearly Christmas after all, in fact, at the time of writing this I thought this time next month Christmas will be over for another year and we then all get depressed because the Christmas ads and films are not on and the Christmas songs have gone from the radio waves and the TV screens, yes, the same songs, films and ads we have been moaning about since September.
I thought the movie was well made had a brilliant story and an impressive cast too, including Dame Maggie Smith, Sally Hawkins, Toby Jones and the unstoppable Jim Broadbent, effects are superb and then there is the music yes that is also wonderful with composer Dario Marianelli creating a score that is emotive, elegant, sparkly, and dramatic. So do I spoil it for you or just leave it there, well it is Christmas, so are you sitting comfortably, (spoiler alert guys). As I was watching the film I got the idea that this could possibly be categorized as one of those Origin movies that Hollywood studios are doing at the moment you know the type of thing when Iron Man was just a nut and bolt and when Batman was hanging upside down in a damp, dark cave in Transylvania (joking) 😊.
It is a story that sets out to explain how Santa Claus came to be and it does this quite well without being to over the top and cliched, or maybe that’s the way I saw it as most Christmas films are cliched and have to them sweet syrupy sentiments, but that’s Christmas love it, loathe it, or indifferent about it, Christmas is here to stay guys and with it we will get all the trimmings and baggage that goes with it. Anyhow, the movie, The Origins thing is a little worrying because the film or the way that the film is projected does hit me as an origin tale, and we all know what happens with those, you get about three maybe four movies in the series and it then fizzles out, hopefully or maybe hopefully depending on your attitude towards the festive season this will not happen or will happen, (confused I am).
And if it does fizzle out there is always the merchandising that goes with the movies, and that’s good because Santa will be able to get a job delivering it. The film tells us that: simply believing in something is all you need for it to become real? (Ok, let’s try that now—–nope not working). So, it’s all very well saying if you believe it will become real, but maybe we should really ask where did Santa come from, was there a person on who he is based upon because let’s face it Mr. Claus didn’t just magically appear out of thin air did, he? The story of A Boy Called Christmas is relayed to three wide eyed children as a bedtime tale by Aunt Ruth who is marvellously portrayed by Dame Maggie Smith on Christmas Eve. The children’s mother has died and their father is struggling to maintain the necessary levels of magic and wonder that his departed Wife had created at this time of year, the children from time to time interrupt the story, but are soon put in their place by the sharp tongued Aunt. The story is basically about a boy named Nikolas who lives in the woods with his sombre looking father.
The head of the family has been killed by a bear, now apparently their only hope to attain a better standard of life is to prove to the King that Elves do exist. Nikolas is left under the care of his wicked aunt Carlotta, whilst his father struggles to feed and keep the family afloat. The boy is kept company by a turnip carved into a doll and pet mouse called Miika, who Nikolas is determined to train to speak and does later in the movie voiced by Stephen Merchant. The life he lives is totally dismal and miserable, until that is he discovers something that will change things forever, what is this something, does it change his life, the film is on Sky movies why not head over there to find out.
So to the musical score by Award Winning composer Dario Marianelli, this is a score that ticks all the right boxes and more to be honest, its dramatic, romantic, nostalgic, wistful, magical, sinister, chilling and filled with a Christmas sound and melancholy that honestly does one good. It is lavishly symphonic, and also contains an intimate and affecting musical persona.
The composer utilises choir and sweeping string passages to fashion a style and sound that is both mesmerising and beautiful. The haunting and affecting music adding depth and atmosphere to the storyline as it unfolds and develops.
There is also a kind of epic and grandiose feel to the work, which is punctuated and laced with delicate sounding tone poems, music box sounds, and quirky stylised interludes. Images and music go hand in hand and compliment and support each other, and as a listening experience away from the movie Marianelli’s eloquent and charming score is truly tantalising and enthralling. Go watch the movie and experience the music and images working together, then sit and listen to the score on its own, highly recommended. Oh and Merry Christmas.