It’s about this time of year when I actually start getting quite excited about watching TV. I know it sounds quite sad, but I don’t get that much spare time to watch the box normally. Xmas is THE time when I indulge my secret passion for children’s tales and magical stories. The child in me is reawakened every year during that time, when I barely move out of the house – or off the sofa!
Here’s what will make it into my list this year.
Golden ‘Serious’ Classics
Well, no Xmas is complete without watching "Doctor Zhivago" - the original 1965 version by David Lean, and the only one worth watching. It is an absolute masterpiece. The story is gripping, the music haunting and it looks stunningly beautiful. Incidentally, if like me, you manage to get your hands on the DVD with the “making of” you will be amazed by how the whole thing was put together. Did you know that in the famous scene where he seeks refuge in his ice covered house in the country, the actual ice was made with wax and the whole set was made and shot in Spain? Honestly, watching the making of is almost as gripping as the film itself. It’s fascinating to see the ingenuity at play in times where they couldn't rely on CG to create magic. Still, I hope you’ll agree with me that the result is pretty impressive nonetheless.
Next will be “The Fiddler on the Roof”. This film has a lot of the same qualities as Doctor Zhivago. It’s haunting, funny and sad in equal measure and you’ll be singing the songs in your head for days after wards. A must watch.
Modern Fairy Tales
“Stardust”: This one is a gem. Robert de Niro is absolutely hilarious, and it ticks all the boxes of Christmas magic; it has a princess (well sort of off), witches, a prince (well, again, sort of!), magical potions, goodies, baddies, and more. And it will have parents as well as children rolling on the floor with laughter.
“The Chronicles of Narnia” will also be in my list (all three of them), in what promises to be a morning till night indulgence.
Older Fairy Tales
Christmas is not Christmas until I have watched this old French fairy tale. It’s called “Peau d'Ane”, which translates literally as “Donkey Skin”, and the story is absolutely bonkers! There’s a donkey that poos gems, a father in love with his daughter and the end involves a helicopter. I kid you not! The princess is the absolutely gorgeous Catherine Deneuve (one of the most beautiful women who ever walked this planet) and the king is Jean Marais, who in his youth was just as beautiful. I guess if he were English, you would refer to him as a ‘Shakespearian actor’ – anyway, I had a massive crush on him growing up, as did most French teenage girls.
I’ll also find time to watch “Beauty and Beast” – but not the Disney cartoon version. Oh no! I’ll be watching the 1946 version (in French) with Jean Marais (again!). I’ll concede that there’s a theme developing here… The screenplay for this version was written by no other than the famous Jean Cocteau. It is eerie, dark, and quite scary for most young children. The best way to watch that one is to pilfer a huge bed sheet, hang it on the wall and find an old projector.
Before you go off thinking that my watch list is only made of dusty VHS tapes, I would like to point out that there will be plenty of CG laden movies too. I have already bought myself the blu-ray version of “X-Men: First Class”, and I have been ‘saving it’ for Xmas.
Now that I have revealed my list, I would love to know what you will be watching. Please share your thoughts here.