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I remember the first time that I saw this cartoon. I was about 6 or 7 years old, and I was starting to get into the Peanuts comic strips as I was learning how to read. From the first time I saw it, I knew there was something very different about this animated Christmas special that set it apart from others. Maybe it was the fact that it actually gave the true meaning of Christmas by having Linus quote Luke 2:8-14. Maybe it was able to capture charm and whit of the Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schulz. Maybe it was the jazzy background music by Vince Guaraldi. Maybe it was all the above. I'm gonna go with the last one. To this day I still find this Christmas special to be a very touching one.
How can you not love it? I'm a 46-year-old Jewish agnostic, and this still makes me laugh and brings a tear to my eye after dozens of viewings; and I don't think it's just nostalgia. I think if you can't enjoy this, you might as well just pack it in. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without this and the ORIGINAL Grinch. Too bad the follow-ups, with the exception of course of It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, have never matched its humor, charm and heart. Favorite funny line? Lucy complains about always getting toys and bikes and clothes. "What do you want?" Charlie Brown asks. "REAL ESTATE!" Favorite touching moment? The transformation of the scrawny tree into a beautiful one of course.
When Charles M. Schulz passed away, he left behind a legacy of joy beyond
measure; through Charlie Brown and the whole Peanuts gang, he offered
insights into human nature that rival that of Thackeray and Twain, and he
did it simply and succinctly, through his endearing characters and his own
personal generosity of spirit. And it's that spirit that is concisely
captured in `A Charlie Brown Christmas,' directed by Bill Melendez and
featuring an original score composed and performed by Vince Guaraldi. And
you could not find a more perfect example to more aptly illustrate the
contributions and enrichment to our lives and to our world made by this
consummate artist who through a comic strip managed to convey an
unparalleled kind of down-to-earth wisdom and common sense.
This is only one of many `holiday' offerings featuring the Peanuts gang (at least two of which, `It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' and `A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,' are especially endearing), but it's the real jewel in the crown among the many treasures to emerge from the vivid and fertile imagination of Charles Schulz. Without a doubt, `A Charlie Brown Christmas,' which premiered in 1965, has since become a cherished classic in it's own right. In this one, Charlie Brown gets picked by Lucy to direct their Christmas play, but he runs into some trouble picking out a proper Christmas tree. And Snoopy gets caught up in the commercialism of the season by entering the neighborhood decorating contest, adorning his dog house with such an array of lights and trim that it just may have a chance at winning the grand prize. But the most memorable moment of the film belongs to Linus, when he takes the spotlight to explain in his own inimitable way what Christmas really means. it's poignant and heart-felt; a moment that remains touching no matter how many times you see it. It's beautifully expressed, and in it's simplicity speaks volumes about the things that really matter in our lives.
The cast includes the voices of Peter Robbins (Charlie Brown), Christopher Shea (Linus), Tracy Stratford (Lucy), Sally Dryer (Violet), Karen Mendelson (Patty), Kathy Steinberg (Sally), Geoffrey Ornstein (Pig-pen), Chris Doran (Schroeder), Ann Altieri (Freida), Pamelyn Ferdin (also Lucy) and Bill Melendez (Snoopy). A fitting tribute to a man who gave us so much, `A Charlie Brown Christmas' is a story that will find it's way into the hearts of generation after generation, a timeless tale filled with humanity and universal appeal. Warm and entertaining, this is a film that can be seen over and over again without ever losing it's charm or it's magic. Charles M. Schulz may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! I rate this one 10/10.
This morning I turned on the television to find something with just the
right atmosphere for opening Christmas presents. But in the 500-channel
universe, could I find the Queen, or the Pope, or anything? I could find
practically anything but Christmas.
The most inappropriate programme on wasn't the infomercial for the miracle juicer, no, it was the annual Parade of Expensive Children's Merchandise direct from Disneyland, in case there were some kids left who hadn't coerced a Mickey, or Terk, or Pumbaa from their beleaguered parents. One of the French channels did have a service from Notre Dame in Paris which was the right sort of thing, with an actual church and choir, but it was entirely in French. But then I found "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on one of the stations.
Once upon a time, "Charlie Brown" was just a prelude for its television viewers, most of whom would be attending church closer to Christmas Day. Nowadays, it's probably more than just the prelude; it's likely to be the whole concert.
Thank goodness Charles Schulz and company did such a fine job of crafting this programme back in 1965. Thirty-five years later, Charlie Brown is still as earnest and sympathetic as ever. He was even decrying the commercialization of Christmas back then, decrying in the wilderness, it seems.
Vince Guaraldi normally gets a lot of credit for his music, but there is far more to the show than just that. It is extremely well-written with a lot of charming and funny lines. I particularly like Linus as "an innocent shepherd", but even Snoopy as a penguin is sure to get a big laugh.
But at the midway point in the programme, the tone changes from quality seasonal fun to something very sincere and deeply held. Linus delivers his heartfelt sermon from the pulpit (the school stage). The Peanuts gang renews its faith (in Charlie Brown, at the very least). The congregation assembled there together raises its collective voice in the recessional hymn "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" as we bid them farewell and take our leave. It is these parallels from the church service, I feel, that contribute to the strong emotion many of us experience whenever we view this small triumph of television programming.
Would I say that everything in the story conforms to a higher design conceived by Charles Schulz? I won't hazard a guess, but I do like to feel that he felt a little touch of divine inspiration with this one.
It's almost Christmas, and the Peanuts gang is eagerly anticipating it
well, except good ol' Charlie Brown, who just doesn't feel quite right
about the festivities this year. Oh, he likes presents and sending
cards (even though he never receives them, as indicated by the echo in
his mailbox) and all, but Charlie Brown can't quite get into the
spirit. It's most likely the crass commercialism that's tainted the
holiday, from little sister Sally's epic letter to Santa to the pink
aluminum Christmas trees for sale. In a rare show of generosity, crabby
Lucy tries to lift Charlie Brown's spirits by letting him direct the
school's annual Christmas play, but the rest of the kids are too
self-absorbed to cooperate. It will take a pitiful little Christmas
tree and some help from the ever introspective Linus to restore Charlie
Brown's love of the holidays.
A staple of Christmas since 1965, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" was the first animated "Peanuts" special, and easily the best. The animation is crude yet has a sweet charm to it. In a rarity in animated films, real children with no acting experience voiced the entire cast of characters (excluding Snoopy). The result is jarringly realistic, since some of the kids are mush mouthed and stumble over words like "syndicate". It introduced the legendary "Linus & Lucy" tune (which would become the "Peanuts" theme song), provided by Vince Guaraldi. Handpicked by Charles M. Schulz himself, Guraldi was responsible for the "Peanuts" specials' uniquely sophisticated sound. The music manages to bring to mind both images of childhood innocence and smoky jazz clubs.
But amidst all the familiar antics (Snoopy's shameless mugging, Linus's blanket, Charlie Brown's melancholy), there is something truly powerful at the heart of "A Charlie Brown Christmas". In our confusing, politically correct climate, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" teaches us the true meaning of Christmas; none of that bland, "family and friends" garbage, but the honest to God meaning of Christmas. Without being preachy, histrionic, or self-indulgent, we learn that Christmas isn't about presents, shopping, or trees, but about a baby born in a humble stable who would grow up to die for our sins. In 1965 that was simply common knowledge, but it is so easily forgotten in the harried, materialistic New Millennium. It is keeping this message in mind that Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang learn that Christmas should unite us, and spread the feeling of love and acceptance into a harsh world.
So for those of you who feel the way Charlie Brown felt in the beginning about Christmas, watch this special with a loved one. It is almost magic, the way it will restore your faith
A Charlie Brown Christmas is probably the most unique Christmas film you can
find. It's different because the Peanuts gang seem melancholy and
introspective much of the time. I mean, do kids really worry about the
commercialization of Christmas?!
Nevertheless, the special really speaks to adults and probably older kids, and keeps you thinking after it's over. It has a very good message, and the music, while also melancholy, sticks with you for a long time afterwards. You could probably play a few notes of their "Christmastime" song, and I'll immediately picture this film. This movie should definitely become part of anybody's holiday collection, even if it's only to stand out from the other material.
My IMDb Rating: 9/10. My Yahoo! Grade: A- (Almost Perfect)
.......and certainly by far this is the best of the Peanuts specials.
Odd that the first one was the best, ya know? (And in running down the
long list here in the Schulz credits-what were some of those-You're a
Good Man Charlie Brown? You'll Find Her Charlie Brown? It's Arthritis,
Charlie Brown, etc....You got the point...too much of a good thing...)
I associate watching this w/ seeing it back to back w/ Frosty or the
Grinch, coming inside after sledding outside in the snow, that famous
CBS whirling Special intro, and those York Peppermint Patty(TM) ads.
Just somehow all seemed to fit, back in '74 and now.
The animation-sure it's sloppy, typical TV '60's stuff-Schulz always said he didn't like this show nearly as much as everyone else seemed too-it was too rushed-but it does work. The best parts-the singing at the end, the great Linus speech-have resonated down thru the years and continue to hit home even now.
I don't expect there to be a better Christmas special ever.
One of the best Holiday movies of all time, I wonder why it's not on
the AFI top 100 list?
****CAUTION SPOILERS*** THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH TELLS THE READER WHAT THE MOVIE IS ABOUT, IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW, PLEASE DON'T READ ANY FURTHER.
In case you haven't seen the movie, here is how it goes. Charlie Brown (a local boy who seems to fail in everything he does), is upset because no one has given him a Christmas card, plus all of his friends seem to have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. All his sister wants for Christmas are toys, she says, "I want what's coming to me." Charlie buys a tiny Christmas tree for the Christmas play, but it's made fun of by his friends. Fed up with everybody, Charlie finally yells, "Does anyone know the true meaning of Christmas?" What happens next is one of the best scenes in a Christmas movie ever! Charlie's friend stands up and announces to everyone in the room the true meaning of Christmas, quoting from the Bible.
Like fine wine, A Charlie Brown Christmas improves with age. It has become
the standard not only for the other Charlie Brown specials but also for the
animated Christmas specials that have followed it over the decades. Thanks
to innovations like video and DVD, Peanuts devotees the world over can enjoy
their favorite Charlie Brown specials any time of the year (read Christmas
in July). Charlie Brown, the Van Pelt siblings and, of course, Snoopy, are
heaven-sent and will be in the hearts of future generations long after us
earthlings are no more.
God bless Charlie Brown and the Van Pelts. God bless Charles M. Schultz for creating such legendary icons.
"A Charlie Brown Christmas" is a cartoon for children, but speaking as an adult, I love this little film. I have ever since I was a child, and I watch it every holiday with my wife and children. It is obvious the producers and actors took great care to make a quality product. Charles Shultz added to his legacy with this 60 minute film.
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