The Snowman
December 24, 2013 5:40 PM   Subscribe

"... and it was on that day I made the snowman." In 1982, the film adaptation of Raymond Briggs 1978 children's book The Snowmanwas released on British television. The original release begins with a short narration by the Briggs, but a later version replaced him with David Bowie gently rocking a toy horse in an attic. Besides the opening narration, the film is without talking and is accompanied by a score by Howard Blake. It yielded the hit We're Walking in the Air which peaked at #5 on UK pop charts when Aled Jones covered it in 1985 (here he is many years later on This Morning Programme singing along with a video of himself as a boy). Last year, a sequel called The Snowman and the Snowdog was released to mixed reviews.
posted by Corduroy (25 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

[Fair warning: the ending is even more brutally honest about the transience of life than I remember as a kid]
posted by Corduroy at 5:43 PM on December 24, 2013 [6 favorites]

Workmate suggested this for my kids.

"Is it good? They like Frosty."
"My son sobs every time he watches it."
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:48 PM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Fair warning: When The Wind Blows flashbacks too. It's Threads for kids.

Raymond Briggs remains an international treasure.
posted by Mezentian at 5:49 PM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Here is a good looking short documentary about the making of The Snowman.
posted by Corduroy at 5:51 PM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

The music when they are flying together is just beautiful.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:54 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I remember this making me sad as a kid. I enjoyed the movie, it was just hard not to cry. I think little-me appreciated the honesty? Everything else at the time seemed so sugar coated or Disney-fied.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:07 PM on December 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

I watched The Snowman every year growing up. It was one of the only videocassettes we owned, and sometimes when I was upset or lonely in high school, I would pull it out. It never made me sad, and actually tended to soothe me.

I'm spending Christmas alone this year, and this was just the thing for a solitary winter's night. Thanks for reminding me of it, Corduroy.
posted by coppermoss at 6:24 PM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

This fine post isn't quite complete without the famous IrnBru advert.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:31 PM on December 24, 2013 [11 favorites]

I also remember this as sad, strange. Gripping.
posted by vrakatar at 6:32 PM on December 24, 2013

This 1984 computer game adaptation for the ZX Spectrum home computer looks absolutely appalling yet all the reviews are like superpositive
posted by Bwithh at 6:42 PM on December 24, 2013

I've watched this every year since I was a child. Since becoming an adult, I watch it every year, and then sit and cry afterwards. I'm not even sure why--I know full well what happens, and it's not even especially sad, but somehow, every time, there's suddenly my face is all wet and my eyes hurt.

When I had my daughter, she fell for it, as well, and mastered the art of starting it over in the moment between returning him and the end, which is sometimes the best way of doing it, I think.

I'm going to take this to my family Christmas tomorrow and make everyone cry with me this year.
posted by MeghanC at 7:04 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wow that was creepy. I kept waiting for an ending like The Little Match Girl. I was right.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:17 PM on December 24, 2013

ugh, nostalgia overload
posted by SomaSoda at 7:41 PM on December 24, 2013

I noticed The Snowman and the Snowdog was playing on the CBC tonight. For a split second I thought it was something to do with Rush.
posted by Flashman at 8:46 PM on December 24, 2013

I first learned about and watched this just today. My daughter, who's so into rules that she's borderline fascist, was upset that the snowman went in the house. She wouldn't articulate why, but I imagine she feels that the ban on tracking snow into the house de jure applies to animate creatures made of snow. In houses outside her parents' jurisdiction.

I was really impressed by the film, and found it moving. My kid eventually found that she enjoyed it, too. Probably because everyone got what they deserve for their lawlessness.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:18 PM on December 24, 2013 [7 favorites]

I first saw this on HBO in the early eighties and it has become a holiday tradition for me. I hadn't made time for it yet this year, so this post was a godsend. Thank you, Corduroy.
posted by KingEdRa at 10:04 PM on December 24, 2013

Hearing that music again (especially the part where they're flying) still gives me chills..
posted by littlesq at 10:26 PM on December 24, 2013

I love that it's wordless and tells the story so well. The music and drawing are wonderful. Nostalgic for me in a nice way. thanks for posting.
posted by theora55 at 1:53 AM on December 25, 2013

I watched this as a little kid, and the only thing that affected me is the fact that the kid apparently wears no underwear.

Like, that was literally the only thing I got out of the whole dealio. We were cooped up inside the classroom, and the teach put the video on, and it was this, and the kid wore no underwear. And I sat through the entire musical scene and thought, "He's not wearing any underwear." And the snowman melted, and I thought, "Of course he's melted; it wasn't ever going to end any other way; also he's still not wearing underwear."

I was pretty terrible at being a kid.
posted by KChasm at 2:38 AM on December 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

And the snowman melted, and I thought, "Of course he's melted; it wasn't ever going to end any other way; also he's still not wearing underwear."

Goddammit *spoiler alert* goddammit!
posted by Decani at 5:08 AM on December 25, 2013

They also adapted Briggs' considerably less depressing book Father Christmas.

Or Father Blooming Christmas.

I suppose that would translate as Santa Darn Claus.

Featuring the late lamented Mel Smith as his Yuleness.
posted by Grangousier at 6:07 AM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Decani, it's not really a spoiler. You can see he's not wearing underwear near the very beginning.
posted by KChasm at 6:10 AM on December 25, 2013 [5 favorites]

The Snowman vs. Predator
posted by ardgedee at 2:04 PM on December 25, 2013

I really like the Nightwish cover of "Walking in the Air".
posted by archagon at 5:12 PM on December 25, 2013

Five or so years ago, a Pandora channel I was listening to played someone's instrumental cover of Walking in the Air. It sounds wonderful, and it's immediately obvious that this is an instrumental version of a song with words, so I google around and find out about The Snowman. Didn't seem interesting, so I forgot about it.

The first Christmas after my son was born, my wife excitedly mentioned that she bought The Snowman on DVD. Turns out she's all about The Snowman, and happily introduced me to it.

The first few times my son watched it, he was in his Please Narrate Everything For Me stage. And that makes it even more affecting, I think, because every damn time I had to say "Now James has to say 'bye bye snowman'" I ended up choking it through tears.


We recently got the Snowdog as well. In it, the snowman is basically a chauffeur to the North Pole. That's it for his character. The flying music includes Brian Adams or a Brian Adams soundalike. The snowman can still fly, but for some reason takes an airplane to the North Pole instead. The North Pole itself has changed over the years; it now includes snowmen trapped in service jobs, and instead of a big dance, it's got competitive skiing. Kind of depressing. The dog-related bits of the story are ok, but didn't really have to be part of a sequel to The Snowman.
posted by Jpfed at 4:32 AM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

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