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Updated April 25 2014 (08:18 (GMT)
|Directed by||Dave Unwin|
|Produced by||John Coates|
|Written by||Raymond Briggs (books)|
|Starring||Mel Smith (UK)|
William Dennis Hunt (US)
|Music by||Mike Hewer|
|Distributed by||Channel 4 (TV)|
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (home video)
|24 December 1991 (UK)|
|26 min (British runtime)|
Father Christmas is a 1991 British animated short starring Mel Smith as the titular character. Created for Channel 4 and first broadcast on Christmas Eve 1991 in Britain, the story is an adaption of two books written by Raymond Briggs - Father Christmas and Father Christmas Goes on Holiday - and is the second animated adaptation of Briggs' work made for the channel, following the 1982 animated short The Snowman. The story focuses on a stereotypical vision of Father Christmas with a down-to-earth twist, living in contemporary Britain with his pets and reindeer, coping with everyday domestic chores, who recounts to the viewers about a holiday he took before preparing for another Christmas.
The animated short was dedicated to the late animator John McGuire, with the film later released as part of a DVD bundle alongside The Snowman, before being released separately in subsequent home media releases.
A scene from the film, featuring the main characters of the 1982 film The Snowman based also on Raymond Briggs' original work.
Following another annual Christmas Eve run, Father Christmas returns to his small house in contemporary Britain. While settling in, he comments to the viewers that contrary to popular belief, he is busy throughout the year caring for his reindeer and pets, tending to his garden, shopping, and doing housework, but decided on having a holiday the previous year to break out of the constant cycle. A year ago, after returning home from shopping with travel magazine, Father Christmas browsed through each one for a destination for the approaching Summer months. He eventually opts for travelling to France, and converts his sleigh into a camper van. After leaving his pet cat and dog in a kennel, Father Christmas takes off for the French countryside with his reindeer.
Upon making camp, he spends the day shopping in a nearby town, buying clothes to blend in, before having a meal at a fancy restaurant. However, the French cuisine causes him to become ill with food poisoning and diarrhoea, and after relocating to a proper campsite with amenities, he soon is forced to find somewhere else to go when people begin to suspect his true identity. When he decides to go to Scotland, Father Christmas is initially happy to enjoy whisky and wearing a kilt, but hates the weather he deals with on his arrival, and trying to swim in a nearby loch that has cold, shark-infested waters; he is also recognised by a young girl prior to the latter. He eventually settles on spending his holiday at a luxurious casino resort in Las Vegas, and quickly enjoys his stay - he dines on good food, enjoys the resort's pool, and has fun enjoying the night life. After spending all of Summer at the hotel, he soon is forced to return home when kids begin questioning his identity, especially after noticing he is running low on funds and racking up a huge hotel bill.
Upon returning home, Father Christmas settles back into his house, before heading to the kennels to pick up his pets. When he returns, he discovers letters addressed to him beginning to arrive. He soon sets to work reading every letter that arrives and preparing for Christmas Eve. With his reindeer hitched to his sleigh and presents loaded, he soon sets off to deliver each one, running across several difficulties along the way. Eventually he travels to the annual snowmen's party, greeting James and his snowman. When the pair go to see his reindeer in a nearby stable, they quickly discover two presents that had not been delivered, and so alert Father Christmas to this. Realising that these are for the British Royal Family, he quickly sets off for Buckingham Palace and delivers them before the dawn of Christmas Day.
Returning viewers to the present, Father Christmas prepares for the festive day by placing his turkey in the oven, prepping his pudding, and giving his pets their presents. Heading upstairs with presents from his relatives, he leaves these beside his bed, and prepares to get some sleep. Before turning in, he wishes his viewers a 'Happy blooming Christmas', before falling asleep as morning arrives.
Links to other works
Father Christmas and The Snowman take place in the same universe—both were written by the same author, and both television shorts were made by very similar production teams. It is suggested that this film takes place a year or so after The Snowman, as Father Christmas jokes to the boy 'glad you could make it again; the party I mean, not your snowman”, which ultimately gives The Snowman a happy ending. The boy can also be seen wearing the scarf Father Christmas gave him in The Snowman. There is also a poster of the snowman in one of the rooms when Father Christmas is delivering presents. The snowman himself can also be seen in Father Christmas' yard during the credits.
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In Father Christmas, Ernest the milkman from Ethel and Ernest can be seen delivering milk to the Royal Family on Christmas morning, and Jim and Hilda Bloggs from When the Wind Blows are shown enjoying a drink in the Scottish pub.
A heavily sanitised American version was produced. The most notable change is that Father Christmas was re-voiced by William Dennis Hunt, becoming much jollier, and all 76 (75 by Father Christmas, 1 by a child's voice in a song) instances of the word 'blooming' were replaced with 'merry'. Scenes where Father Christmas gets drunk, over-eats, dances with chorus girls and suffers a hangover were removed. Also cut are a few candid moments showing his 'builders' bum'. This version has since been used in all of Universal's home media releases, including in the UK.
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- ^Crump, William D. (2019). Happy Holidays—Animated! A Worldwide Encyclopedia of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Cartoons on Television and Film. McFarland & Co. p. 103. ISBN9781476672939.
- Father Christmas at IMDb
- Father Christmas Kit Kat advert on YouTube
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