The Snowman (1982)

by Paul on December 14, 2012

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As I go through my movie library looking for all my favorite Christmas movies, I have to include the 26 minute animated short film The Snowman (1982). It is a holiday-must for me because of the beauty with which it is drawn, and theThe Snowman (1982) tenderness of the story.

The Snowman is based on the children’s book of the same name by author Raymond Briggs. In order to accentuate the animation, there is no spoken dialogue in the film (just as there are no words in the book), however there is a gorgeous score from composer Howard Blake. The film tells the story of a young boy who builds a snowman in his front yard. That night, at midnight, the snowman comes to life. Together, the boy and the snowman go on a series of adventures through the house and the woods. Then the two take flight and fly to a snowman party.

The Snowman (1982)The Snowman is directed by Dianne Jackson, who was always known for her unique ability to take an artist’s work and adapt it into a film version, while still maintaining the overall feel of the original story. “The Snowman” book, and The Snowman film look amazing similar, to the point where you would think that the same artist was responsible for both.

In addition to the animation, the film boasts a tremendous score that includes the song, “Walking In The Air” for the scene where the boy and his snowman are flying. This beautiful song (that has been re-recorded several times since) was written by Howard Blake as well, and it is sung by choirboy Peter Auty from St. Paul’s Cathedral. Since there is no dialogue, the score and this song play an extremelyThe Snowman (1982) important part in this film’s overall feel. Howard Blake did an amazing job capturing the overall mood of the story.

Like so many Christmas snowman stories, The Snowman has the same unhappy feel as you near the end. We know that the outcome of the snowman is bleak. Oddly enough, it is the sadness of the story that makes this film so incredibly touching and poignant. The young boy experiences an unparalleled joy when he is with his new friend, which in turn just makes his inevitable loss that much greater.

The Snowman (1982)The Snowman will always be one of my favorite Christmas films because of the ever so important lesson of enjoying and treasuring every minute we have with those we love. Upon its release in 1982, it was nominated for Short Film: Animated at the Academy Awards, although it didn’t win.  I haven’t even seen the short film Tango (1982), that did win that award, but I have doubts that I would ever think it could measure up to the beauty of The Snowman.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joel Bocko October 13, 2013 at 8:18 PM

Yeah, this is a classic short, particularly during the sequence featuring that song which is just transcendent. I think The Snowman belongs to a long tradition of classic childrens’ stories whose extra oomph is provided by that sense of sadness and loss. Obviously his feeling represents the passing sense of wonder and engagement with the world, which most – maybe all – people experience as they grow older (those who didn’t or can’t remember are the ones who tend to trivialize childrens’ entertainment when in fact the best of it is among the emotionally potent art out there). As for other animated shorts of the year, and what deserved to win, I’ve decided that The Snowman ties Malice in Wonderland (a brilliant & often obscene acid-trip reinterpretation of Lewis Carroll) as my favorite of the year – polar opposite films in a way, yet both representing trips into realms of consciousness other than the every day in their very different ways.


Paul October 14, 2013 at 7:21 AM

I love your passion for this short film, and think you have illustrated the point behind the story perfectly. It is a must see film, and anyone who trivializes the story and its importance is obviously missing something. As the holidays draw near, I will excitedly pull this one out from the back of the closet, and probably watch it a few times.


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