The Snowman is iconic, synonymous with Christmas. Pure unadulterated happiness is all that exudes from this animated film.
Based on the best-selling children’s book by Raymond Briggs, The Snowman has been engrained in British Christmas culture from the very moment it aired on the BBC in 1982. The renowned Walking in the Air song, sung by choirboy Peter Auty (commonly mistaken for Aled Jones) which features in Howard Blake’s soundtrack, has become a national anthem for Christmas time in the UK.
In short, the animated film depicts the story of a young boy who befriends the snowman he made in his back garden. It begins when the boy wakes up to find his house, situated in the scenic countryside covered in a white blanket of untouched snow, and like any child, he can’t wait to build a snowman. The magic of Christmas is truly shown when the Snowman comes to life, and after dancing joyously around the Christmas tree, playing dress up in his parents’ room, and cooling down in the freezer, the most iconic moment in the film occurs. The boy and snowman soar up into the night’s sky … queue the infamous melody of We’re Walking in the Air. The pair touch down in the North Pole where they are greeted by other snowmen, and of course Father Christmas himself, and dance through the night. After such an adventurous night, the Snowman leaves the boy to go to sleep, though unfortunately to his dismay, the boy wakes to find his newfound friend is nothing but a heap of snow on the floor, and the film ends.
One of the most intriguing features of this film is that there is no dialogue, other than in the introduction from David Bowie. Despite this, the adeptness of the artists and animators’ drawings is so accomplished that the audience becomes so completely engulfed in the storyline. In an age of technology, where Disney and Pixar are the leading animators using digital imagery to create their films, it is a refreshing change to return to this hand-drawn technique, which was also used in the 2012 sequel The Snowman and the Snowdog (released to mark the thirty-year anniversary of the first film).
The Snowman soundtrack is a key device used to convey the emotions of the characters, where there is no speech to inform the audience of the storyline. The change in pace and instrument builds tension and excitement and releases it, making an effective substitute for dialogue.
The short thirty-minute film is not only a child, but family favourite – it perfectly encapsulates the brilliance and magic of Christmas which all family members are able to enjoy, and has become a timeless classic.
By Ellie Harradine