Angelina’s 80’s Archive: The Snowman

Ever since I was a baby, I’ve collected snowmen – they always have pretty much been my favorite winter/holiday symbol. I recently asked my mother when this started, and she said I was about two or three years old. Whatever the case, it pretty much began after I had a birthday party with a recreation of the cake in The Snowman.

Based on Raymond Briggs’ picture book from 1978, this English cartoon has always been a staple in my family’s Christmas. In the spirit of our tradition, I share it with you now.

Release Date: December 26, 1982 (on the UK’s Channel 4)

Synopsis: One morning after a storm, young James builds a snowman. That night, he discovers that the snowman has come to life. The two embark on an adventure together, from the freezer of James’s house to a magical flight over the countryside and a snowman party with Santa himself. As much as James loves the snowman, it is soon time for him to let him go.

Degrees of Kevin Bacon: Two. Though the version we have on DVD has the short’s original introduction by Raymond Briggs, an opening for the U.S. release was performed by David Bowie. David Bowie is in The Prestige (2006) with Scarlett Johansson, who wrote/directed Kevin Bacon in a six-minute short film called These Vagabond Shoes (2009).

Come for: A change of pace. The Snowman has no dialogue; the sound in it is completely music.

Stay for: The flight of James and the snowman, set to “Walking in the Air” (the only words in the movie are in this song) which was performed by 13-year-old choir singer Peter Auty. The animation of their journey, with its crashing waves of colored pencil marks, is beautiful – so is the song.

Had I seen it? Every Christmas. I still dance along with the Scottish snowman during the Christmas party scene and cry at the story’s end.

Do I like it? The Snowman (and my dress-up stuffed animal of him) will always have a place in my heart. At only 27 minutes long, the special is artistic and emotional, without pretension. Though it can be sad, it is completely lovely. If you’re interested in watching, it is currently available on YouTube.

It’s been fun for me to write about something a bit different this week (first animated work, first short, first non-American film!), and I’m glad to share something with you that is so special to me. Good luck on your finals! Once you’ve gotten through them, we’ll be covering what is, in my opinion, one of the ultimate Christmas films: A Christmas Story (1983).


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