Dianne Jackson’s gorgeous short film adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ children’s book, The Snowman, holds a special place in my heart. I remember seeing it in the library years ago as a small child, staring at the screen wide-eyed and taken in by a sense of wonder. Over time, the film has grown even more dear to me.
“I remember that winter because it had brought the heaviest snows I had ever seen. Snow had fallen steadily all night long and in the morning I woke in a room filled with light and silence, the whole world seemed to be held in a dream-like stillness. It was a magical day… and it was on that day I made the Snowman.”
The story is simple. It tells the tale of a young man named James, who wakes one morning to find his front yard covered with snow. He hastily gets dressed in layers, and runs downstairs and outside to have some fun. He immediately sets out to build a snowman – a snowman that magically springs to life that very night. James takes his new friend on a tour around the house, and the next few minutes play out like a “fish out of water” sequence, as the snowman discovers the new world that he now inhabits. The two are careful not to wake the parental units, and sneak out of the house. They hop onto a motorcycle, and the snowman recklessly drives them around the village.
As the night goes on, the snowman decides to take young James on a flight across the sky. In one of the most haunting and beautiful scenes, the two soar over the town and across the sea to the strains of a song entitled, “Walking in the Air”. When they finally land, they head straight into the deep, dark woods. The music at this point becomes ominous and foreboding, until they come out on the other side to a jubilant party made up largely of various snowmen, and a jolly Santa Claus.
Soon, James grows tired, and so the snowman takes him back home. It has been a night that James will never forget and a Christmas that he will always remember.
The Snowman ends on an unexpected and bittersweet note, right before the credits roll. A perfect ending to a perfect film. As for me and my house, this film is a must-see around the holidays. One of the many things that has always drawn me to The Snowman is the fact that there is no dialogue. The film is told entirely through the perfect synchronization of music and image. The animation is gorgeous. The artists utilized pastels and crayons to lend a more traditional look to the film, which gives The Snowman a unique look and feel. In only 26 minutes, this film is able to move you to laughter and tears from one moment to the next.
I highly recommend The Snowman.
Fun fact: An alternate version features an introduction by David Bowie.