Film Advent Calendar – Day 1: Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
As the festive season truly begins what better time to sit down, snuggle up and enjoy a modern Christmas classic, 1994’s Miracle on 34th Street.
It’s rare that remakes surpass the originals but in the case of 1994’s Miracle on 34th Street, I’d say that I think it not only surpasses the original 1947 film but has merrily become the film everyone first thinks of when mentioning the title. I think part of it is down to the phenomenal performance by the late Sir Richard Attenborough which is truly stunning and forever memorable.
The basic plot is a department store hires a Santa Claus who may happen to be the actual Santa. When this Santa’s career and lively hood is threatened only one little girl (played by the great Mara Wilson) who believes in him can help.
The acting is great as is the script. The relationship between Richard Attenborough and Mara Wilson is beautiful to watch and it is really moving to see how he almost takes on the role of Susan’s grandfather or guide in her struggle for true happiness in her life. I’d argue that it may be 2 of the best performances the 2 actors have ever given.
The story is a lot more grounded than a lot of Christmas films and it’s one that really makes you think about things. It has some deep themes running through it but none more prevalent than that of age. Many consider Kris to be just another old man who happens to look like Santa and is slowly losing his mind, believing his is the real deal. He faces adversaries at lots of levels including the court system. It makes some hard points about life and belief yet still has the ultimately happy festive cheer.
There’s the troubled love story of Susan’s mother running under the Christmassyness and it adds an extra depth to everything. She wants to be happy but not at the cost of her daughter’s happiness. It’s another layer you might not expect in a film like this.
I say ‘film like this’ but there aren’t many other films like it. Everything gels so perfectly that it doesn’t just work as a festive film, but works as a feel-good film all year round. I can happily watch this film anytime and never get tired of it. It’s definitely up there in my favourite festive pictures as well as being up there in my favourite films. For those wanting a deep, yet highly accessible and nice Christmas film you can’t do much better. Grab a hot drink, curl up under the blanket and enjoy some magic on 34th Street.
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