Christmas films are remarkably evergreen. Year after year, audiences turn to the same movies: It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, and White Christmas. You would think, based on the perennial re-airing of some of these films, that the canon of Christmas movies is relatively small – you’d be mistaken. Many have been unjustly neglected in favour of the more famous titles. Others aren’t thought of as Christmas movies but would make worthwhile seasonal viewing nonetheless.
A hint of magic pervades John D. Hancock’s magnificent neo-realist Christmas movie. Young Jessica Riggs (Rebecca Harrell) doesn’t have much in life other than her Christmas records: her mother recently died; her father, wallowing in grief, is unreachable; and the threat of foreclosure hovers over their Michigan farm. When a wounded reindeer wanders into the family barn, Jessica decides that it must be Santa’s very own Prancer. Bracingly unsentimental, Hancock’s movie is a powerful examination of the ineffable nature of faith, anchored by an astonishing cast and powered by a soulful score from Lawrence of Arabia’s Maurice Jarre. (Orion Pictures Corporation)