Holiday movies are a big part of many families' Christmas traditions. Whether it's a classic or a contemporary pick, each tradition has a story behind it, and also a history. Alberta@Noon special host, Judy Aldous, spoke with the program's pop culture columnist recently about some of Albertans' favourite Christmas films.
Since its initial publication in 1843 as A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens' classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his "bah humbug" attitude has been credited with renewing the interest in celebrating Christmas as a celebration rather than a more sombre, introspective occasion. It's focus on merriment, community and being with the ones you love sparks empathy for Scrooge, who is redeemed by revisiting key moments in his life through three spirits that come to him over the course of an evening. The tale has been made into more than 20 movies and continues to resonate with people of all ages.
Die Hard (1988)
Multiple listeners called and emailed to voice their love for Die Hard and Bruce Willis, saying it just matches the way they feel towards the end of the holidays. Along with one listener voting for Joyeux Noel, there seemed to be a theme running through some suggestions that veered towards the gritty, nasty aspects of humanity.
"On the one hand, you've got the idealized version and it's like, OK, we'll know what's in the movies, but then it's the other one that feels a little bit more relatable when things go wrong," said Ruth Myles, Alberta@Noon's pop culture columnist.
It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
While a slightly controversial selection, this 1946 classic is much-loved despite its dark heart. The main character, George Bailey, comes to see what people's lives would be like if he didn't exist and he comes to understand the richness of his everyday life. For many people, it's part of the fabric of many people's Christmases and Myles says that comes down to it being a shared experience of the idealized vs. the reality.
This Will Farrell film came up in numerous emails and phone calls from listeners, with many saying it was the downright craziness of Farrell's character, Buddy the Elf, that drew them back year after year. In Elf, a man named Buddy realizes after growing up in the North Pole that he is actually a human and sets out on a wacky, wonderful journey to get to New York City to meet his father. After encounters with discarded gum on the sidewalk, a wild raccoon and cotton balls in the doctor's office, Buddy begins to feel he doesn't belong with humans and has to decide what to do next — until low levels of Christmas spirit threaten Santa's ability to fly his sleigh and put Christmas at risk.
Love, Actually (2003)
This witty and heartwarming tale of intertwining characters seems to have captured listeners' hearts, with many saying they return to it again and again to get a dose of that holiday cheer. Based in London, U.K., the film weaves together 10 stories of people looking for, finding and trying to get over love during the holiday season.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
This is one of the Christmas movies were things definitely go horribly awry, and listeners vouched for it in force.
"I think it normalizes my husband's obsession with lights," said one listener.
Many cited it as an example of how things really are when extended families converge into one house during the holidays, throwing regular routines aside and forcing everyone to adapt or perish in the Christmas chaos.
What are your favourite holiday movies? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.