Showing posts with the label Article

The Closing of the Year. Sort of.

Christmas Day is upon us once again, so it's time to wrap things up for another year. Well... sort of. See, despite some concerns about whether we'd have enough to keep up with our usual schedule this year, we're actually finishing with a handful of reviews we never got around to scheduling. While we relaxed our rules on limiting posts to media we deemed "Christmas movies" to include films of historical significance or movies that uses the holidays in interesting ways, we held off on a couple that are really movies where Christmas plays a minor role, and post-Christmas seems like a good time to run those. I also want to leave open the possibility we might start posting reviews during the off-season (hopefully shorter than most of what we've been doing) of other movies that fall more in the neighborhood of "movies with some scenes during the holidays" than bona fide "Christmas movies." As I said in my intro piece, this blog has piqued my int

Watching More Than 50 Adaptations of A Christmas Carol Changed the Way I View Media

Anyone reading the blog last Christmas (or even just following me on one of the social media platforms I used at the time) likely remembers my big project last year. While I'm pretty much always seeking out new holiday movies, last year I watched and reviewed as many versions of A Christmas Carol as possible, finishing the season having seen more than fifty (an exact count is complicated, because several resided in the gray areas between adaptation, homage, and parody). On top of that, I saw several more than once - in order to keep various versions straight for purposes of comparison, I watched some as many as four times. It was, to say the least, quite an undertaking, particularly considering I was doing it as a side project to a side project. The primary reason for the exercise was to gain a better understanding of the history of how the story was viewed, as well as some broader insight into the evolution of Christmas media in general. I wrote up my observations in a few summar

Where We Are Now and How We Got Here

Welcome to year fourteen of Mainlining Christmas. That's right - fourteen years. We've been doing this so long, when we started this blog having a blog didn't seem antiquated. Hell, in 2010 the weird part of this was approaching Christmas as a sort of nerd fandom; now that's kind of normal. For what it's worth, I'm not at all surprised to see an interest in secular yuletide media going mainstream: I'd been expecting that long before we started this. Over the years, this site has shifted and evolved. Originally, we kind of approached it as a tongue-in-cheek look at Christmas media. We focused on consuming as many movies, shows, specials, songs, and anything else related to the holidays we could get our hands on. Reviews, to the limited extent the term even applies, were little more than warnings or recommendations prefaced with vague descriptions. Part of me feels embarrassed looking back at earlier write-ups, though I'm probably being a little too hard o

Christmas Past and Future

We're closing out 2022 a little differently than past years, because this one's been different for us. We've done themes before, but not to the degree of this season, where we allowed A Christmas Carol to more or less overrun the blog. I'm covering my thoughts about that in a separate post , so they don't overwhelm everything else, because - even though it might not feel that way - our holiday this year wasn't just  about Charles Dickens. In fact, that wasn't supposed to be the theme at all. Last spring, I had a very different objective in mind: I wanted to check off every full-length Christmas movie made in the 1930s, in part to explore the differences between how those films treat the holidays compared to later movies and television shows. If you were wondering why we wound up reviewing Bright Eyes , Hell's Heroes , Love Finds Andy Hardy , and  And So They Were Married  in rapid succession, well... that's what was going on. But on the way, I also w

Christmas Present

What a year. For us, it's been a journey into the swirling vortex of A Christmas Carol. I posted a new review for an adaptation every day since Thanksgiving this year, which - as you might expect - has adjusted my perspective a bit. I actually didn't quite get to everything I wanted to see. The 1947 Spanish film,  Leyenda de Navidad , continues to elude me - I believe it's the only surviving theatrically released version I haven't been able to track down. If anyone knows a way this can be legally watched, please let me know. There are of course plenty other versions I haven't gotten to, but that's the only one I lost sleep over. I'm sure I'll cover more in future years, but don't expect another Carol-a-day thing in this lifetime. But here at least we've come to the domain of the second ghost, so you know what that means. Actually, do you know what that means? Because there might be some confusion. We haven't talked about it much, but there

So You're Planning to Remake A Christmas Carol...

If you've been following along, you know I've been watching adaptations, remakes, homages, and reimaginings of A Christmas Carol in bulk this year. As you might expect, I've got some thoughts about what makes an adaptation work and what doesn't. I figured I'd pass on my notes to whatever studio executive thinks it's a good idea to remake Scrooge for the [checks notes] I have no idea what number time we're up to. As a sidenote, this article is mainly going to concern itself with adaptations of the original book. I might turn to quasi-sequels like Scrooged and Spirited for guidance, but that's not what this is about. Do We Need Another Adaptation? I thought I'd start with some thoughts on whether there's even a point in doing this again. You may be surprised to hear my answer is, "Maybe." One takeaway from this whole project is that while there are a lot of versions out there, there isn't really a single definitive one that meets all

Why Is The Wizard of Oz Associated with Christmas?

We recently posted a review of The Wizard of Oz , one of two movies we consider "honorary Christmas" films despite lacking actual holiday credentials, but we didn't really investigate why it's associated with Christmas in the first place. Fair warning: the background here is a bit murky, so this is going to involve a bit of speculation when it comes time to connect the dots. That said, I think I've put together a fairly strong case for how an adaptation of a kid's book from 1900 became tangled with the holidays despite having no obvious yuletide connections. I think there are five primary factors at play: the movie's central theme, its star, its signature song, its most obvious imitators, and the decision to air it around Christmas in 1959. Let's start with that air date, because I think it's the simplest connection. Assuming the list on Wikipedia is right, The Wizard of Oz was first aired on television in 1956, when it was shown in early November.

What (Almost) Every Adaptation Gets Wrong About Ebenezer Scrooge

At the moment of writing this, I've seen around three dozen adaptations of A Christmas Carol this year, and while there are numerous aspects that vary from one to another, there's one mistake virtually every version I've come across shares. As you can probably guess from the title, the aspect in question relates to Scrooge himself, specifically in how he's presented at the beginning of the story. With few exceptions, he's depicted as comically mean, a cartoonishly greedy, self-centered man who cares nothing for others. He isn't merely a bad person, but rather he's presented as the worst  human being, the absolute epitome of materialistic excess. And, as odd as it may sound, I think that depiction is a mistake. I don't believe that's at all an accurate representation of the character as he behaves in Dickens's novel. If you're familiar with the book, you're probably confused right now - or perhaps you think I'm confused. You're lik

Musical Versions of A Christmas Carol: An Extended Analysis

You probably noticed that we've been watching a lot of versions of A Christmas Carol. As we went, I started noticing how many musical versions there are. As a lifelong musical theater fan, I'm a sucker for a good musical. Because these are all adaptations of the same story, many use songs in similar places for similar purposes. I find it interesting how these songs can make very different choices, so let's take a few minutes today to explore that together.  I don't remember enough music theory to get too bogged down in whether these songs are necessarily "good" by any specific musical metrics. I'm interested in only a few things:  Does the song support the story, expand the character(s), or enhance the tone? Is it enjoyable to listen to: lyrics understandable and not annoying, tune catchy, performed well?  How do the songs which fulfill the same purpose in the narrative compare across adaptations? Here are the versions of A Christmas Carol I'll be visi