44 sleeps till Christmas !! Odyssey DVD have cranked up the excitement levels at The Madhouse by sending us through a selection of their lovely festive family films for us to discover.
Christmas in Canaan is based on a novel by country & western legend Kenny Rogers and Donald Davenport and stars Billy Ray Cyrus. (The Madhouse kids were surprised and impressed to learn that he's Miley's dad !) Set in rural Texas in the 1960's, it's a poignant but ultimately heart-warming story that looks at the racial tension and prejudice of the time. Widower Daniel is a great dad, who, when he learns that his (white) son has been making racist remarks about the (black) boys at the back of the school bus, is determined to ease the conflict between them. His heart is much bigger than his bank balance and he really shows the true meaning of Christmas. I'd never heard of the film but it's perfect Christmas family viewing. I think I might show this at school in the run up to Christmas too, as it will tie in nicely with the civil rights module we're working on.
Christmas in Canaan (2009), run time 120 minutes, certificate PG, RRP £6.99
A Christmas Visitor sounds quite depressing on paper but is actually a very uplifting and heartwarming film, albeit a bit of a tearjerker. The Boyajian family have not celebrated Christmas for the last eleven years since their son was killed on Christmas Day 1991 whilst serving in the Gulf War. Their heartache isn't over though as they learn that their daughter Jean has cancer. Festive spirit is in short supply but their faith is restored by a mysterious visitor who served in the army with their son. This is more for the grown-ups or older children as very young viewers would probably get a bit bored. I loved it though.
A Christmas Visitor (2002), run time 120 minutes, certificate PG, RRP £6.99
If you're looking for one for the kids, Polar Bear King will be more up their street. Filmed in Scandinavia, it is based on an old folk tale and has a real fairytalesque quality that will instantly appeal to younger viewers. In a land far, far away, a jealous witch casts a wicked spell turning a young king not into a frog but a polar bear. He must find himself a human wife in order to reverse the spell and heads off to Winterland where he finds himself a beautiful princess who will love him and help to defeat the evil witch. All together now - awww !
Polar Bear King (1993), run time 84 minutes, certificate U, RRP £6.99
Having been to see the Poppies at The Tower at the weekend and learning that each of the flowers represents a soldier who died in the war, the Madhouse kids have taken a sudden interest in World War I and II so this was a lovely film to watch together. I'm sure you've all heard the tale of the Allied and German soldiers playing a game of makeshift football on No Man's Land on Christmas Eve, and Silent Night is in a similar vein. Elizabeth, a German woman and her young son, are spending Christmas in their home in the Ardennes when three escaped American POWs turn up seeking sanctuary. She lets them in but they are soon discovered by the German soldiers chasing them. Christmas magic does its stuff though and the young men discover that they have more in common than they would have thought. What makes this film especially enjoyable and heartwarming is that it is based on a true story.
Silent Night (2002), run time 83 minutes, certificate PG, RRP £6.99
All four films were released on 3rd November and they have the perfect stocking filler/Secret Santa price tag.
Disclosure : We received the films in order to write an honest review.
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