Advent Calendar 24: Christmas Past

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the blog,
A short silent film was our virtual Yule log.

There has been a distinct lack of festive flavour in our recent blog posts, which I feel needs to be rectified.

Furthermore, we spend so much time harping on about modern short films with all their computer trickery, I thought it was time for something a little older. Really old in fact.

I love the magic of silent films. Their imagination and resourcefulness often seems so much more impressive than today’s special effects, which can usually be boiled down to some computers and a bit of green cloth.

This film is only one minute long, but it is really beautiful. Ignore the modern music. In fact, mute it and pick something else to score it to. It was made at the dawn of film-making by British film-maker, magic lanternist and hypnotist, G.A. Smith. The little children in it could well have grown to 100 and died of old age long before now. Because this film isn’t just an evocation of Victorian Christmas, this film is of a Victorian Christmas.

This really is a magical piece of a Christmas long ago, which we can glimpse at for a mere minute.

It was made in 1898, and it is called simply Santa Claus…


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  1. 1.Radiohead Soundtrack
    2. Nile Soundtrack
    3. Muslim call to prayer soundtrack ( my favourite)

    • Ben Turk

      For some reason this reminds me of one of my favourite short films of all time (I think it’s the black and white), ‘O Whistle and I’ll Come to You’, a late sixties adaptation of the M.R. James classic short story starring Michael Horden. It used to be online somewhere but sadly no longer (there may be a version on youtube but one I saw had been cut down in an annoying fashion to fit the youtube time limit). It was part of a series of Christmas ghost stories the BBC made in the late 60s and early 70s, only some of which still survive thanks to that organisation’s philistine decision to reuse film in order to save money. The film I mention is available on DVD but for something ridiculous like £50. I might still get it at some point since it’s brilliant.

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