We are used to shock and sadism in movies. More than not, we experience it at a very young age, in the form of war, abuse, fights, wordplay displayed in various movies. Even cartoons and children's stories are filled with those little hints at the not-so-subtle cruelty that permeates our world. "A Christmas Carol" is no exception from this. However, it is not a movie about cruelty and death, but instead about the destruction that it brings forth.
It's Christmas Eve. A family of three, mother, daughter and father, are warm asleep in their beds. Or maybe not. Maybe something terrible has happened. A fight. A robbery. A betrayal. A loss of innocence. Lory, a cute young girl writes a letter to Santa Claus, asking him to fix her father. In a touching finale of the story, Santa Claus does fix her father, in the form of death as a sacrifice he did not make. "A Christmas Carol" is genuinely touching - the story is not told only by the talented screenwriter, but also by an equally great director, cinematographer and actors. Not to forget the eccentric lighting, score and set design that it offers.
This is one of those short films where details matter; where it makes sense to look for hidden clues and meanings not only within the words of the story but also within the setting surrounding the actors. A great example is a quote from it: "I wonder once again what ghost I am. Christmas Past? Present? Or yet to come? Maybe I'm the three of them. Does it make any difference?" In Christian culture, the trinity usually symbolizes Holy Trinity. In the story, the Santa repeatedly questions if he's one of the ghosts in the Charles Dickens story's "A Christmas Carol".
He eventually comes to the conclusion that perhaps it doesn't matter. The story will tell itself regardless of his knowledge of the past, present and future. Similarly, there are three core characters at play in the story: Santa, Nicholas (the father) and Lory. Arguably, we could say that all three of them represent a period of time: Nicholas is the cruel past, the destruction that we experience through memories and trauma; Santa is the present, the judgment day and the bringer of justice; and Lory is the future - uncertain, but bright and ready to embrace what's to come.The mother is the only true character of the story, the observer.
Perhaps she's the one who holds the answer and the key to the story's question of morality and passion and the magic of Christmas Eve. Or maybe it's Lory, who's the future of her family's legacy and her father's cruelty. Similarly to the writer, I don't think that the answers are something we should look for in this story. It's the lesson of morality - be good or Santa won't bring you gifts; he will bring you coal.
In this case, the coal is death. Going beyond the story, one should note the touching performances delivered by Santa and Nicholas. Santa is not represented traditionally in this short film. He still wears a red coat and a hat and sports a handsome white beard, but he's not here to deliver our usual gifts. He's here to bring justice and peace to those who need it the most. Nicholas, on the other hand, comes off as a usual abusive father, who pretends to know no difference between good and bad, but eventually, he gets his redemption as well in the form of death. In his "sacrifice" he gives strength to his daughter Lory - the girl who wrote the letter. One could argue that even though she appears only through flashbacks, Lory is the core of the story. Without her, it would have never happened.
Other aspects of this film are equally incredible: the cinematography is truly outstanding, showcasing and adding to each minute of the film the weight that it so desperately needs. Acting is superb and casting is excellent. The music and audio mixing only adds to the haunting element of this magical Christmas eve and the editing should be praised for the choice of shots and incorporated inserts. Overall, this is a beautiful film and a must-see for many film students and the rest of the world. After all, we should learn to be better to each other and try our best to eliminate the violence from the world that's powered by cruelty.
Rimute Terra Budreviciute/Cult Critic/CCMA
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