Can Current Christmas Cinema Match the Holiday Classics?

Friday, November 2, 2007

As the public flips its calendars from October to November, December remains only one thin calendar page away, which means movie studios begin rolling out their holiday releases within the next several weeks. The question of whether or not these new Yuletide pictures will ever match up to the classics of old remains to be seen, but some films have a better chance than others, based on a number of factors.

Deron Albright, assistant professor of film and video at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, says that holiday films that remain the most popular every year appeal to the broadest audience possible. "Christmas films with staying power are the ones that connect with kids, but that can also be watched as a family," says Albright. "The experience then takes on an inter-generational element."

It's A Wonderful Life remains the prototypical holiday film, most likely because its' yearly television broadcast has exposed generation after generation to the movie. Albright says the nostalgia present in watching a film like It's A Wonderful Life as an adult after being exposed to it as a child also plays a major part in the ongoing popularity of some films.

In addition, timelessness ranks as a major factor in how current Christmas movies will rank in the holiday canon. Films like A Christmas Story and the more recent The Polar Express, Albright says, are the ones that can and do have the ability to come back into the minds of the American public year after year, partly because of their timeless element. Other Christmas films that are targeted at a cultural time and place can feel stale after several years because of their specific references, says Albright.

In the end, Christmas films will always remain popular, but the ones that will stay popular every holiday season are the ones that appeal to the entire family.

"I think the real test is the films have to have something more than kitsch value," Albright says. "They have to provide something that you are happy to come back to yourself and happy to share with your kids year after year."

Albright can be reached for comment at 610-660-1488, by email at, or by calling the Office of university Communications at 610-660-1222.

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