The Christmas Film Genre

At this time of year it is virtually impossible to turn on the television and not encounter a Christmas film. However there are many different types of Christmas movies available to watch, with each film embracing some of the different tropes of the genre.

There are a number of variations the genre can possess, films can be directed towards children or adults, they can feature Santa Claus or ignore his ‘existence,’ they can even be from a wholly different genre, however one thing in common is they are set during the holiday period. Below is a discussion of the more obvious sub-genres of Christmas films. While certainly exploring a number of different themes and films, this list is by no means definitive, feel free to disagree.

MV5BMTM2NzgzNTk2Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjUxNjUyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Children Christmas Films

The sheer number of films that can fall within the children’s sub-genre of Christmas films makes it one of, if not the most popular subset of the genre. The films that fall underneath this category are more likely to include more of the ‘classic’ Christmas films than any other of the sub-genres discussed in this list.

In children’s films set during Christmas, it is the simpler nuances of the season that are explored. Films aimed at children frequently have a heavy focus on the exploration and explanation of the true meaning of Christmas. Family, togetherness, overcoming adversity, goodwill and Santa are all popular themes at play within children’s Christmas movies. Often you may find films that display an anti-commercialisation slant with the focus being on a loving family and togetherness; the product placements throughout these films cheapen such sentiments.

However, throughout it all is the awareness that being a ‘good child’ is very important, as how else does one impress Santa and receive presents?

Stand out examples include:

Adult Christmas Films

HNKThe adult sub-genre of Christmas movies are, you guessed it, aimed primarily at adults. Gone are the earnest references to Santa, the sincerity replaced with a more mature and often blasé tone. Where children’s Christmas films may focus on Santa and a fantastical journey, adults Christmas films in a way lampoon the entire genre.

Ways in which this is achieved are through the satirical presence of Santa as the adults are forced to recognise the existence of such a figure, or through a blatant cynicism in regards to holiday practices.Themes such as non-belief, dysfunctional family relations, alcoholism, loneliness and the blatant commercialism of the holiday season can be explored in adult Christmas films.

However, overshadowing all this is an almost bitter overtone, commenting perhaps on the forced cheerfulness that many people find unpleasant during the holidays. Despite this, films of the adult sub-genre nevertheless find themselves ending happily with minor or personal victories occurring.

Stand out examples include:

Non-traditional Christmas Films

The non-traditional genre Christmas films can be thought of in a number of ways, my two favourites are, ‘It just so happens to be Christmas’ and ‘A Hipster Christmas.’ The films of this genre ignore all previous tropes of Christmas films and instead only have events that fall within the holiday season. In a time when Christmas can quite literally be shoved down your throat, non-traditional Christmas films can be breaths of fresh air to the repetitive holiday television programming.

Often, films of this ilk are from wholly different genres unrelatable to the very season specific tropes of the Christmas genre. The two most common films types to dip into the Christmas end of the genre spectrum are action films and romantic comedies.

Actions films

The frequency of which action films incorporate Christmas into its plots is not only a surprising one but a polarising one. One has to wonder at the draw of such two different genres, is it that the cheer and joy of the Christmas season juxtaposes nicely against the needful violence of action films? Or is it just that Christmas decorations look good blood-spattered? Either way, action films that feature Christmas as a back drop nevertheless prove to be popular.

Stand out examples include:

Romantic Comedies

Unlike Actions films and their foray into Christmas films, Romantic Comedies that feature the holiday season just seem to make sense. What’s more romantic than finding your true love during Christmas? While certainly the time of year can be very romantic, the way in which the period has been played for laughs in these types of films are similar to that of adult films.

Admittedly Romantic Comedy Christmas movies are a lot tamer, but they nonetheless feature dysfunctional families, loneliness and rejection have been explored the films. However unlike the adult sub-genre, Romantic comedies that feature Christmas always end with a happily ever after.

Stand out examples include:

 A Christmas Carol Christmas Films

Muppet_christmas_carolIf there is one thing you can always be sure of come Christmas, its Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. The story of A Christmas Carol is one that follows the journey of Ebenezer Scrooge as he is visited by four ghosts. With each visitation to the past, present and future, Ebenezer comes to the personal realisation that his mean and bitter ways have to change. The novel and indeed every adaptation (except of course the Blackadder Special) sees the transformation of Ebenezer into a much more cheerful and good-spirited character.

Dickens’ novel has been adapted numerous times and into many different forms including television shows, films, radio plays, stage productions, ballets and even an opera. From Star Trek Captions to puppets, from horror to comedies, A Christmas Carol is a film that will surely not stop being remade.

Stand out examples include:

There are so many different Christmas movies available today that to classify them all neatly within sub-genres is almost unthinkable. Where one film may lie firmly in the Children’s sub-genre, others may branch out and scatter themselves amongst every sub-genre. As it stands another non-traditional sub-genre could be created that includes Christmas themed horror films. With this in mind, I shudder to think about the future of the Christmas film genre. Who knows what’s in store for the next Christmas season?

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