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re-inventing christmas

Perhaps Hollywood’s first “Christmas movie” was Meet Me in St. Louis released November 1944, a story developed from eight semi-autobiographical vignettes by Sally Venson, published 1941-1942 by The New Yorker magazine. It’s a Wonderful Life could be our most popular Christmas movie.

While the Christmas season has become a cash-cow for Hollywood, the movies have not been good to Christmas.
Romantic Hallmark productions are a current rage—the sappier the better. A few gems can be found. 12 Dates of Christmas drags its heroine through twelve re-livings of one day, opening her eyes to what her selfishness had previously blinded her.

More often Hollywood cranks out blatant consumerism or saccharine fairy tales.

Last year’s
The Man Who Invented Christmas is the quirky, fun tale of Charles Dickens self-publishing A Christmas Carol, rushing his creation into book stores just days before Christmas 1843. Sadly, the movie diverts from Dickens’ focus, replacing it with a Hallmark-like story of a creative spirit overcoming obstacles. Charles Dickens himself described A Christmas Carol as his hammer with which to beat upon the inequality of his times.

Salvation is essential in the Bible. In our culture, we just need to do better.

In the movie Scrooge surprisingly identifies as a “sinner.” Unsurprisingly, his redemption is deleted. The movie leaves us with a re-focused man, but not the redeemed Scrooge whom Charles Dickens sent to church on Christmas Day, after he committed to a large contribution for the poor and before dining with his nephew.

Culturally redemption is unattractive.

Unbroken (opened Christmas Day 2014) is the story—according to the book’s dust jacket—of a WW2 soldier’s “survival, resilience and redemption”. It was directed by Angelia Jolie. According to The LA Times as a result of a vision, she scrubbed from her film Louie Zamperini’s encounter with Christ Jesus. The movie would end with his liberation from a Japanese POW camp. In her re-telling it was unnecessary for Mr Zamperini to be set free from the hate, suffering, and fury that was destroying him from the inside out.

Sadly, tragically redemption has become unnecessary. ~

Dan Nygaard