Recently, when selecting a ‘Christmas movie’ to watch, it fell to me to defend my choice of John Carpenter’s The Thing against come pretty fierce criticism. “Its not a Christmas movie” being one of the strongest objections. At the time I did a bad job of countering such claims. Pointing out Kurt Russel’s ‘Santa’ Beard and incidental sleds convinced nobody. Since then I’ve had the insight to see what the internet thought about this issue and was rewarded with an article explaining that The Thing is indeed a Christmas movie. http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/18459/the-james-clayton-column-the-thing-is-just-the-thing-for-the-festive-season This guys gets it. If only I’d found this a week ago. Their first, and best, point was also mine – but it fell on deaf ears. “Of course The Thing is a Christmas movie – its snowing” “Its set in Antarctica – just because there’s snow doesn’t mean its a Chrismas movie”. But, if that were true, then that might mean The Empire Strikes Back was not a Christmas movie. Here are 6 reasons why it is.
Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back is, at least partly set in the snow. Its not like the entire movie is set on Hoth, or, to give its full title Ice Planet Hoth, but the opening scenes in the rebellion’s arctic base are among the most memorable. Its also one of the most iconic settings of the film, one repeatedly seen in video games and other media. Citing snow as a reason why something should count as a Christmas film maybe be simplistic, but let’s consider how Christmas songs are judged. Does it have sleighbells? Then, apparently, it counts as a Christmas song. If East 17’s Stay Another Day is going to played every Christmas until the end of time just because it has bells in it then we’re fully justified in being transported back to Hoth every December.
#2 Pointy Ears
I’m not saying that every diminuitive, pointy-eared character is an elf. I am going to point out that Franz Oz, Yoda’s puppeteer and voice artist, also performs many of the same duties for most of the good muppets – including the king of Christmas films Muppet Christmas Carol. That creates a powerful association between everyone’s favourite backwards-talking Jedi and Charles Dickens. That sounds pretty Christmassy to me.
#3 Ghostly Visitors
Continuing the Christmas Carol theme, Luke is haunted by apparitions throughout the film (though he’d have to wait or A New Hope to be visited by three spirits). A Christmas Eve ghost story was a Victorian tradition, and why it may now be sadly lapsed this could be the perfect way to rekindle it.
#4 Repeated Family Viewing
Talking to people about their annual Christmas viewing often yields some surprising answers – the longstanding joke about the fact The Great Escape seems to on, and presumably watched by somebody every year is a solid example of this. Harry Potter and many (though almost certainly not all) of its sequels seem to have joined this tradition – and what’s more they’re something people actually look forward to (no disrespect to Steve McQueen). For households who prefer space to spells presumably out there there’s a significant number of people who use the the holiday down period to rewatch Star Wars? It’s too cold to go outside, everyone is full of Turkey, why not stick a few Star Wars on? It seems the ideal time.
In my recommendation of Gremlins as a Christmas movie I made the point about how heavily merchandised the franchise was http://www.scififantasynetwork.com/gremlins-alternative-christmas-classic/. Well, Gremlins has nothing on Star Wars. From the original figures to advent calendars, baubles, breakfast cereals, sweets and tins of spaghetti there’s some kind of Star Wars on everything these days – and it seems safe to assume a fair few of the above (hopefully not the spaghetti) are going to be snuck under Christmas trees by Santa on Christmas eve. Add to that the recent, very popular tradition or going to see the new Star Wars film every December than it seems like this really has become the season to celebrate Star Wars – sorry May the 4th.
#6 It’s Better Than The Alternative