Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Dana Stevens on the Melancholy Beauty of the Charlie Brown Specials

posted by Nell Minow

Slate’s Dana Stevens has a lovely essay on “Why I love the melancholy Peanuts holiday specials,” in honor of a new holiday collection dvd set.

Those specials–at least the big three: the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas shows that were recently released in a “deluxe holiday collection” by Warner Bros.–have a mood unlike any animated film for children made before or since. For one thing, they’re really, really slow–slow not just by our ADD-addled contemporary standards but also next to the programming of their own time. Just compare the meandering pace of A Charlie Brown Christmas
(in which Charlie tries, and fails, to direct a single rehearsal of a Christmas play) with the generation-spanning epic crammed into Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
(1964). But what really sets the Peanuts specials apart is their sadness. Even digitally remastered, with the background colors restored to their original vivid crispness, the Peanuts holiday specials have a faded quality, like artifacts from a lost civilization. As Linus observes of the wan, drooping pine sprig Charlie Brown eventually rescues from a huge lot of pink aluminum Christmas trees, “This doesn’t seem to fit the modern spirit.”

Advertisement

My favorite is this beautiful scene with the children skating to the bittersweet music of Vince Guaraldi.

Stevens talks about the insights from the extras on the new DVD set, which reveal that it was Schultz who insisted that there be no laugh track and that real children provide the voices. But the highlight of the piece is her lyrical descriptions of what made those early specials so, well, special.

Advertisement

Here I could write an epic poem detailing the multiple felicities of the Peanuts specials: the van Gogh-esque night sky that dwarfs Linus and Sally as they wait in the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin, Linus’ stirring reading from the Gospel of Luke at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas, the impossibly hip “Little Birdie” song that plays in the background as Snoopy and Woodstock prep for their Thanksgiving feast.

Previous Posts

Contest: Win a DVD of the Sweet Romance, "Old Fashioned"
Win a copy of the sweet romance, "Old Fashioned," from PureFlix. It set a record with the highest opening for faith film on less than 300 ...

posted 9:00:48pm Jul. 05, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Jenny's Wedding with Katherine Heigl and Alexis Bledel
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsRh-PTeXzw[/youtube] ...

posted 10:00:44am Jul. 05, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Glitch
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z736c3pXb7w There's no US release date set at the moment for this film, also known as "Leading Lady," but I hope we get to see it. The actress is Katie McGrath, currently in "Jurassic World" and soon to appear ...

posted 8:00:39am Jul. 05, 2015 | read full post »

Tonight on PBS: A Capitol Fourth with Barry Manilow, Hunter Hayes, and KC and the Sunshine Band
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IQqWgdF1z0[/youtube] Tune in tonight to watch A Capitol Fourth on PBS, featuring Barry Manilow, Hunter Hayes, KC and the Sunshine Band, Alabama, and Lang Lang, and hosted by Bradley Whitford. And ...

posted 12:00:57pm Jul. 04, 2015 | read full post »

Marvin Gaye Sings the Star Spangled Banner
Happy 4th of July! [vimeo]https://vimeo.com/34606761[/vimeo] ...

posted 8:38:56am Jul. 04, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.