Now it’s December, we’re opening a selection box of festive films from the Moving Image Archive, not least because they can’t be shared on the big screen at the Library this year. Luckily, many films in the archive can be savoured wherever you are in the world. This short blog will showcase a few festive highlights, so grab a mince pie, sit down and take a nostalgic look at Christmas past with us.
View a recording of our Festive Films event
Join us by the virtual fireside (YouTube) and view a selection box of Christmas films from the Moving Image Archive.
Getting ready for Christmas
‘’Have you thought about your Christmas baking yet?”
Don’t worry – you’ll be whipping up shortbread and Christmas cake in no time… provided you buy flour from the local Co-op store! The Library preserves a number of advertisements and promotional films featuring products that promise to make Christmas easier. For shopping inspiration, look no further than Come Co-Operative Shopping (1964) and Co-Op Adverts II (1955).
Witness Santa‘s arriving a store – by boat – in Santa Comes To Lewis’s (1956) another blast from childhood past. The store is heaving with crowds of shoppers, with staff on hand to demonstrate everything from toy aeroplanes to mini sewing machines. On a less sentimental note, such films also offer evidence of contemporary attitudes, for example, what toys were considered appropriate for ‘girls’ or ‘boys’. Also view these family films by Frank Marshall, including the affectionate storytelling in Christmas (1937), Tree for Two (1957) and Twee Bowmen (1961). More on this prolific amateur film-maker and his work here.
Many films in the collection are personal family records. Reels, often on 8mm or 9.5mm, may be found many years after the children featured in them are long grown up, and offer a unique record of Scottish life. Christmas with Morag and Lesley (1964), evokes the excitement of Christmas Eve. Memories of school parties can be seen in Christmas Party 1970 and 1971, nativity plays such as The Christmas Story (1954) or visits to Santa. Finally, relive memories of Christmas Street Decorations in Glasgow (1959).
Tall Tales by the Fireside
Unexpected stories are ready to be told on film, such as The Pine Tree (1974). Based on a story by Hans Christian Anderson, the story is told from the tree’s perspective as it grows from a small sapling to a glittering Christmas Tree. The dialogue was written by poet Liz Lochhead and the unit manager for the film was Iain Smith, now an Oscar winning film producer working in the UK and Hollywood. It was partly filmed in Achray Forest between Loch Achray, the Trossachs and Aberfoyle.
The Story of a Christmas Seal (1982) is a heartwarming little animation about Sammy, a seal born on Christmas day who asks Santa to help him with his present deliveries! This film came in with the collection of the Edinburgh Cine and Video Society.
Traditional outings to the pantomime, ballet or theatre will be sorely missed in 2020. However, there are all sorts of films to enjoy from the comfort of your armchair as the festive holiday approaches.
Roll up, roll up to the Kelvin Hall Circus (1969). The Queen of Hearts Pantomime (1937) is a rare example of some early colour footage (taken inside the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh). In Nutcracker (2017), you can enjoy the breathtaking Grande pas de Deux featuring the Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince Coqueluche. There are also different recordings of Aladdin, The Snowman and Peter Pan in the Scottish Ballet Collection ready to explore online. Also in the collection are films featuring professional and amateur productions of Cinderella.
Raise a dram to the end of the old year and the beginning of the new with this selection of films recording traditions indulged across the country.
‘’So strenuous is the game that property in the main street must be barricaded’’ — an apt description of a game of Handba’ at Kirkwall, Orkney (1939). Start the year with a blaze of light in New Year Fireball Festival, Stonehaven (1969). Finally, some memories of parties past in A Guid New Year from Glasgow (1957) and wishing you A Happy New Year (1965).
Last minute stocking fillers
If the temperature drops outside, snuggle up and enjoy some handpicked films from the Moving Image Archive on the theme of Winter Weather and Woolly Wonders. You can also find a selection of Christmas Crackers from our friends at the British Film Institute!