Of course, the author of A Christmas Carol said a lot of things that concentrate our minds on this ‘happiest season of all’; but maybe one of the most memorable suggestions from Charles Dickens was that “perhaps the best Yuletide decorations are to be wreathed in smiles and wrapped in hugs”.
That’s my wish for all of you, both over this Christmas season and on through the year: that you are blessed and happy and wrapped in hugs. It’s been great getting to know the regulars of the Silent Cinema Galway throughout 2023; and – as I talk up a storm on the keyboard, but not so much in the flesh – I’d be pleased if you poked me on the shoulder and said hello to me any time you wish.
It's also been great, working even in this small way with founder Adam Scheffler. Adam, I wish you and your family the warmest and most loving of Christmases. And the same goes for one of my favourite couples ever – Holly and Mikey of Cinephile Paradiso, who are two of the most genuine people I know. Everyone should have a Holly and Mikey in their lives and I’m lucky to have them.
I never bothered too much with Christmas over the years. I don’t think that you do when you don’t have children. But I recall with pleasure several occasions when I got the chance to see the trouble my brothers went to for my nieces and nephew, back when the latter were little tykes, fretting and worrying if the roof would take the strain of Santa’s sleigh.
I’d watch as my brothers made footprints under the windows and marked the outside of the chimneys, all for the show on Christmas morning. Although why they did this when Santa’s very real, big clodhopper boots were going to do that anyway, I never did understand. But in those moments my adult brothers were also nine years old.
On Saturday 16th December Adam has chosen a clutch of very early Christmas-themed silents, to help us wind down the year. And in particular, I want to mention the one-minute short from 1898 that is considered to be the very first Christmas film featuring Santa Claus, directed by George Albert Smith.
Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline has remarked that here you’ll see a really early example of a jump cut when a static shot becomes two sleeping Victorian kids on one side of the screen while the other side has Santa delivering their presents. It was also a very early example of parallel action; and Smith was using techniques that he had employed earlier that same year in The Mesmerist and Photographing Ghosts.
As Brooke writes, it comes as little surprise that one of Smith’s correspondents was the French pioneer, Silent Cinema Galway favourite George Méliès.
But if I’m honest, what I’m REALLY looking forward to is the Laurel and Hardy short. I never get tired of those guys!
I wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas; and while I can’t name everyone, I can’t NOT name our very versatile pianists Mila, Desiree, and Augustina, who have been joined of late on the harp by Francesca. The atmosphere quite literally would not be the same without them.
To you all… a very Merry Christmas and a happy and loving New Year.