3 DAYS TO CHRISTMAS: ‘A Christmas Story’

3. A Christmas Story (1983)

Every family who celebrates Christmas has their list of annual traditions from Christmas tree shopping to turkey carving to visiting the window display at their favorite toy store. There may not be a better film that captures the tradition and nostalgia of the Holidays than Bob Clark’s 1983 classic A Christmas Story. It is one of the funniest, simplest, and most iconic Christmas movies and is essential viewing for any family who can laugh at the silliness of the December traditions.

Told from the perspective of the film’s protagonist, Ralphie (Peter Billingsley), A Christmas Story follows the Parker family during the weeks leading up to Christmas Day. Set in the 1950s, the family structure has the archetypal make-up with the grumpy, blue-collar father (Darren McGavin), the stay-at-home, overprotective mother (Melinda Dillon), and the tagalong, nuisance little brother. The members of the family are presented as Ralphie sees them, but there is little exaggeration and each character is completely believable in their respective roles no matter what time period they exist during.

As an already established Holiday classic, there are many scenes within A Christmas Story that are hilariously iconic. The father’s leg lamp has become a favorite Christmas gag gift, the tongue sticking to a pole scene is used as a famous cautionary tale, and the ever-quotable line “you’ll shoot your eye out” has become a war-cry for every excuse a parent can provide for why a child should not receive a particular gift. The reason the film has become so iconic is because it is so universal. Everybody had that one gift they wanted so badly as a child that they went to great lengths to get it, whether it be a Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred Shot Range Model Air Rifle With a Compass in the Stock and this Thing that Tells Time or some other specific gift. Like all parents, the couple in the movie do not have first names allowing them to further represent the generic set of parents.

The film does not aim for technical perfection, but it does do some things pretty well. Reginald H. Morris’ uses the camera perfectly to show the distressed mother peering on in the background while the father adores his leg lamp. There was some type of filter used to create a fuzzy look on the lens which makes everything look like it might when revisited in a memory.

An adult Ralphie narrates the film throughout, sometimes too much so, and he reflects on the memories with a great sense of affection and nostalgia. While most of the story is presented realistically, Ralphie occasionally escapes into his imagination presenting played out scenes in his head that accurately reflect how a child would see it. Ralphie loves Christmas and he romanticizes presents, Santa, and the orphan Annie show. The romantic notion of the Holidays through the eyes of a child is exactly what A Christmas Story intends to present and it encourages the audience to reflect on their favorite Christmas memories and laugh.

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