There is something incredibly nostalgic about these 24 minutes of animation. Originally aired on CBS in the USA in 1966, it has been shown every Christmas since. It would take 3 years before it aired in the UK and I wouldn’t see it until December of 2018. I was of course aware of the 1957 childrens book and I was more than aware of the 2000 film starring Jim Carrey but this specific special somehow evaded me. Thankfully I now own it on DVD and will be sure to make watching it an annual tradition.
Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas tells the tale of a Christmas curmudgeon known as The Grinch and how he steals Christmas from the Whos of Whoville. It may be short but it still manages to convey a pure message about Christmas and what it stands for. I’m sure you know how it ends but let me remind you anyway. Despite stealing every Christmas present and decoration from Whoville and being on the verge of throwing them from Mount Crumpet, The Grinch witnesses the Whos celebrating Christmas anyway. As Dr Suess so elegantly wrote:
“It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!… …Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
This may be a childrens story but it delivers is message so unapologetically and with so much heart that it can deliver to people of all ages. I, watching it for the first time as a 21 year old, found myself being filled with joy and nostalgia. I think it’s the work of legendary Looney Tunes artist Chuck Jones whose various cartoon Christmas specials I remember watching as a child. Perhaps it’s the grainey audio quality that I recognise from those same early cartoons. Perhaps it’s having a story read aloud to me as my mother once did. Perhaps it is the message that capitalism is not and should not be the point of Christmas. There’s so much here to love and connect with that there can be no single reason why it has withstood the test of time. The narration is provided by the great Boris Karloff who sadly passed away in 1969 before this special could air in the UK. His voice delivers an air of sophistication while still having a great warmth to it. Though uncredited at the time, Thurl Ravenscroft provides the vocals to You’re A Mean One, Mr Grinch. He had also sung and provided voices for several Walt Disney projects but, at the time, he was best known for voicing Tony the Tiger in Kelloggs’ Frosted Flakes adverts. I was going to make a joke about how this is ironic because this special is “grrrrreeeeaat” but this special is above that.
Dr Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas is fantastic. It really is the Christmas classic that people proclaim it to be. It is a perfect adaptation of a perfect book it continues to bring joy to millions of people.
Until Next Time…