A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Release Date: November 15th 2004
Certificate: U
Running Time: 25 minutes

Director: Bill Melendez

Featuring: Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Woodstock, Lucy, Linus, Patty

Poor little Charlie Brown, he’s just doesn’t feel the Christmas spirit in him. No matter how hard he tries to get into the swing of things, he always ends up feeling depressed over the holidays. As one of his friends, Linus, says to him:

“Charlie Brown, you’re the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem. Maybe Lucy’s right, of all the Charlie Brown’s in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest!”

This Coca-Cola sponsored television special, based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz, was produced and directed by former Warner Bros. and UPA animator Bill Melendez. He also provides the voice for Snoopy, who, although doesn’t speak, makes little sneaky noises, especially when he eats!

Snoopy goes skatingCharlie Brown looks to see if he got any Christmas cardsSnoopy is busy munching and reading the newspaper

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Charlie Brown is so depressed; he goes to seek psychiatric help from none other than Lucy. After paying 5cents, Lucy suggests that what he needs to get into the spirit of the season is to get involved with some Christmas projects like directing the Christmas play. When he gets to the auditorium he is stressed out by how disorganised everyone is and how focused they are on the commercialism of Christmas; Lucy wants real estate, Snoopy is decorating his house so that he can win a lights and display contest, Sally needs help writing her letter to Santa asking for money if her presents are going to be too much for him to bring.

Charlie Brown needs help!Snoopy is a very busy dogSnoopy fixes up his house for a competition

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Feeling that what they need is a good old fashioned Christmas tree to set the mood and get away from the distractions, Charlie Brown goes in search for the perfect tree for the Christmas play. He finds the one real tree they have for sale and Linus says “Gee, do they still make wooden Christmas trees?” When he comes back with the tiny, scrawny twig, the kids are furious with him.

Finally the frustration of always getting everything wrong gets to poor Charlie Brown:

“Everything I do turns into a disaster. I guess I really don’t know what Christmas is all about. Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
The rehearsals are in progressDirector at workWho let the dog out?

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Linus offers to explain the meaning of Christmas with a passage from the Gospel according to Luke, verses 8 through 14 from the King James Version. He takes to the stage and under a spotlight, recites from memory:

“‘And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.’”

“……That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Linus goes back to clutching his blanket and sucking his thumb, leaving Charlie Brown to ponder on what was just said.

Charlie Brown gets an earfulLinus explains ChristmasCharlie Brown takes his Christmas tree

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A Charlie Brown Christmas has a very clear message and its way of reminding everyone of the true meaning of Christmas is heart-warming and enjoyable. Although it was made on a shoestring budget and the network executives initially criticised it over its editing, sound mix, use of child actors for the voices and its message about Jesus Christ, the show became a critical and (ironically) commercial success. It won an Emmy Award and a Peabody award.

Charlie Brown won't let commercialism ruin ChristmasCharlie Brown kills his Christmas treeThe kids celebrate Christmas

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What I love very much is the way the lines are delivered. I never realised it before and always thought it was deliberate but some of the child actors at the time could not read yet, so they were given their lines to recite one at a time. Longer lines had to be edited together in the studio after they were recorded and this most noticeable with Sally Brown’s lines, especially when she says to Charlie Brown “All I want is what I have coming to me. All I want is my fair share”. It’s all of these little things which add to its charm and make it one of my all-time favourite holiday specials.

A Charlie Brown ChristmasA Charlie Brown ChristmasA Charlie Brown ChristmasA Charlie Brown Christmas

Colouring sheets. Save, print and colour! Click for bigger view

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