Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cinematic Advent Calendar - Day 11

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) - Dir. Bill Melendez

Artwork by Tom Whalen
A special for the ages. They just don't make them like this anymore. Inspired by the Peanuts comic strip, written and illustrated by Charles M. Shultz, A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) was the first prime-time animated special to feature these beloved characters. Despite being a cartoon geared towards children, Shultz (the writer), didn't sacrifice his, or his characters, integrity by softening the content. While the presentation is animated, the content is highly sophisticated and intellectual. The special takes a critical stance on the over-commercialization of Christmas by surrounding the downtrodden main character, Charlie Brown, with a bunch of socially impressionable friends. As Charlie Brown searches for the true meaning of Christmas, his humble spirit is not swayed by swingin' up beat jazz, flamboyant aluminum Christmas trees, or unrequited materialism. In a stunning display of accuracy the special blatantly tells the audience what the true meaning of Christmas is, in a climactic monologue delivered by Charlie Brown's friend, Linus van Pelt, as he quotes the book of Luke from the King James version of the Bible. In addition to the stylistic animation, the special also boasts an incredible jazz score by Vince Guaraldi, which is comprised of original compositions and holiday classics, completely capturing the tone of the special. It is the combination of all these elements that allowed A Charlie Brown Christmas to appeal to a wider audience and remain popular since it's initial premiere on December 9th, 1965. 

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