Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"On the first day of Christmas the period drama fan watched..."

Everyone has their own favorite Christmas movies to watch with family and friends. This year I encourage you to check out some of these favorite Period Films that feature delightful Christmas scenes.

Twelve Period Dramas for Christmas:

Starting off at Christmas time this film is so full of family fun, sweet characters and stories! I watch this Little Women with my mom and sister almost every year. There's actually several Christmas and snowy scenes throughout. I highly recommend this film for the whole family!

I've read Charles Dickens' classic tale a few times and wished that there was a close adaptation. Melody at Regency Delight suggested this as one of her family's favorite Christmas films and I watched it with my family for the first time just last week. We greatly enjoyed watching this version - it's faithful to the book, quite well cast, has beautiful music and charming scenes and costumes! For more information check out Melody's lovely film review. Another family favorite is The Muppet Christmas Carol which I also high recommend (read my review). 

I adore Cranford! My sister and I re-watched both of these miniseries last week and laughed and cried and generally had a very lovely time! Both films have Christmas scenes in them but Return to Cranford has more of a Christmas theme. At Christmastime the ladies of Cranford celebrate with their friends in sweet scenes filled with games, songs, snow and heart-warming stories. Great for any time of the year but especially fun at Christmas! These miniseries are good for almost all ages but there are a couple slightly scary scenes that younger children might not like.

(Season 2, Episode 1)
As my current theme suggests I quite enjoy the Lark Rise to Candleford series, particularly the Christmas special episode. My sister and I watched all four series not too long ago (while crocheting Christmas gifts). We especially enjoyed the Christmas carols sung during the episode, so festive! There is a mysterious young lady who shows up during the course of the episode and her story is a bit ghostly but overall this is a very fun period set Christmas story!

This film is from Featured Films For Families (they sell great family films) and has been a family favorite for many years. The story centers around Jed and Martha Richards who agree to raise young a young boy after his parents tragically die from cholera. Martha is still grieving for her two sweet daughters, who died on their trek across the American Plains, and has a hard time getting used to young Daniel's awkward and boyish ways. Jed and Daniel bond fairly quickly but it will take a while for Martha to see the young boy's need for love and healing in her own heart. But spring sometimes comes unexpectedly, and for Martha it comes on a snowy Christmas Eve when Danny’s innocent heart is finally able to rescue hers.
This is a very sweet film which I recommend for all families.

 This adaptation of the classic Thomas Hardy novel is much lighter and brighter than his other stories (read my review here). Most viewers might not remember that the films starts out at Christmastime when the country choir goes caroling. There are a few carols sung during the film including It Came Upon A Midnight Clear and a new favorite of mine Remember O Thou Man. Though the story continues mostly in the later part of the year (up to harvest time of the next year) it always has a Christmasy feel about it to me. 
This is a sweet film that most everyone will enjoy, but younger viewers might get a bit bored.

This version of Frances Hodgeson Burnett has been a family favorite for a long time. It's a very sweet film and actually closer to the book than any newer adaptations I've seen (even though Sara Crewe is a bit older than in the book). Much of the film is set around Christmastime and several lovely carols are sung including God Rest Ye Merry, Gentleman. It shows a lovely picture of Christmas for Victorian children both rich and poor. I highly recommend this film for all ages!  

Although many love The Young Victoria (and I do too!) the first film to introduce me to my favorite historical royal figure was Victoria & Albert. This miniseries is quite delightful because it spans Queen Victoria's life showing scenes from her accented to the throne of England, her courtship with Albert and marriage, the births up to young adult years of their nine children and ends with the death and mourning for Prince Albert. One of the lovely things they mention is Prince Albert introducing the Christmas tree to the palace and singing Silent Night in German with their children. 
Although I first watched this film when I was 13 or 14, there are a few short scenes that might not be quite appropriate for younger children or young teens (on the royal couple's wedding night). But for those wanting to know more about Queen Victoria and get a good picture of a Victorian Christmas this sweet film is a must see!    

Hercule Poirot's ChristmasThe Theft of The Royal Ruby
A Christmas mystery? Yes, of course! Agatha Christie's Belgium detective Hercule Poirot is the hero of the day as he solves crimes at Christmas. These are two favorites of mine.
In Hercule Poirot's Christmas, Mr. Poirot's simple Christmas repast is disturbed by an invitation to visit the home of Simeon Lee, a repellent curmudgeon who thinks his life is in danger. Events snowball as Simeon is indeed killed, and a fortune in uncut diamonds stolen. As Poirot observes, a case can be made against any of the family members Simeon gleefully tormented, and it will take his "little grey cells" to unravel the web of mystery.
And in The Theft of the Royal Ruby, Mr. Poirot is in hopes of spending a quiet Christmas with a box of chocolates and his warm central heating and is quite upset when the government demands he find the stolen ruby of a foolish young Egyptian prince. Poirot begrudgingly spends Christmas with Colonel Lacey and family, one of the few people who knew about the ruby. When the royal ruby turns up in the Christmas pudding Mr. Poirot will have to set a trap to catch the thief.

Samantha - An American Girl Holiday & Felicity - An American Girl Adventure
My sister and I grew up reading the American Girl Books so we were both excited when the films came out. Even though they don't always stick close to the original stories these films are still quite delightful and a must see at Christmastime!
Samantha is a caring girl growing up in 1904 New York while Felicity is a spunky red-head growing up in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. Both have fun adventures and will find that  family and friends are what truly matters. Both films start at different times of the year and end at Christmas.
Good fun and period goodness for the whole family but especially for mothers and daughters!

Jane Austen's Emma
Did Jane Austen mention Christmas in her novels? She certainly did but it is a truth universally acknowledged that Christmas wasn't as important a holiday in Regency England as it is now. Although Christmas is mentioned briefly in most of Miss Austen's novels it is Emma that is the most Christmasy! Emma Woodhouse spends Christmas Eve at the Weston's dinner party and visits Harriet Smith on Christmas day. The adaptation with the most holiday cheer is Emma (2009), but Emma (1997) and Emma (1996) also have lovely scenes centered around Christmas. I very highly recommend all three adaptations for all ages! 

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (2005) or (BBC 198)
C.S. Lewis' classic book features four children that enter Narnia at a time when it is always Winter but never Christmas. One sign that Aslan is coming is that the children meet Father Christmas and are given gifts which are useful later on in the story. While the newest film version has the prettiest winter wonderland, the older BBC version is closer to the book and features a nicer Father Christmas. Either way this is a fun family story with spiritual truths hidden at every turn. Do read the book too! 

Also I recently reviewed An Old-Fashioned Christmas (2010) which I recommend for period drama fans. This doesn't include my favorite silver screen Christmas films which I hope to post about fairly soon.

Which of these films have you seen? Do you have a favorite?

Do you have any other period films you'd suggest for Christmas viewing?


Farida Mestek said...

Funny you should mention "The Theft of The Royal Ruby" - I bought it last week and I've been watching and rewatching it ever since!

I'll probably be re-watching "Little Women" too.

Miss Dashwood said...

What a lovely list! I've seen several of these films, but some are still on my "to-watch" list. Have you seen "Molly: An American Girl Victory"? In my opinion that one is better than Felicity and almost as sweet as Samantha--it's also set at Christmastime.

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

What a coincidence! I watched "The Theft of The Royal Ruby" this past weekend, it's such a great mystery! Have fun watching Little Women!

Miss Dashwood,
Yes, I have seen the Molly movie a few times but I couldn't remember if it was set partially at Christmastime or not. Now I remember it does end at Christmas but they sing carols and American victory songs at the end play so it always seems more July 4th to me. Molly wasn't a favorite of mine either, her books were fun but as dear as Felicity's and Kirsten's books. My sister's favorite of the films is Samantha so that's the one I'm most familiar with. These films do stray from the books but are still vastly enjoyable! :)

Shelley said...

Thanks for sharing...some I have seen and some I haven't....they all look like they are wonderful movies to watch at Christmas or anytime of the year...Merry Christmas to you.

Gracie said...

I so adore Cranford! From start to finish, it was nothing but loveliness. I've not yet seen Return to Cranford, but I am going to look for it straight away! Thank you so much for your lovely posts, I enjoy reading your blog so much.

Lauren said...

I always think of Little Women as a Christmas movie as well. Also, I tend to watch the first Anne of Green Gables around Christmas time. It has the Christmas ball, and lots of snow all throughout, so maybe that's why I think of it as a Christmas movie. Wonderful list!

Jessica said...

I didn't know Hallmark had made a sequel to An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving! I'm going to try to find that right away. :-)
Great list!

Bekah said...

I have seen Little Women! I own that edition & love it! My parents really enjoyed it too! ;)

I LOVE CRANFORD!!! Watched it more times than I can count. I found both @ Walmart for only $40! :D (for both) My Mom has seen the first part of Cranford & she liked it. :)

I am watching Lark Rise to Candleford in great amounts! I plan on watching TONS in the next week since I was able to find nearly all 4 season at the library! What joy~ what fun! :D

I've also seen that edition of A Little Princess, as well as some other editions... touching... quite touching... I cried... :)

Samantha & Felicity were 2 of the very first movies I ever saw. They are the best~ Mom agrees. I can never watch 'em enough! I own both! :D

As for Emma, it's darling... just darling... I have seen 4 editions, but love the 2009 edition best... sadly, I can't seem to find them to purchase anywhere. :( Oh well. I'll keep watching.

Issy said...

Fabulous choice of films :). I love most of them and have watched them countless times, except Return to Cranford which I really want on dvd, and A Little Princess. I have the 90s version but I have always wanted to see the 80s one, but I don't think it was ever released in this country. :(

Melody said...

Lovely post, Miss Laurie! =) I love that version of A Little Princess! We had it on VHS before the tape got ruined I think...and I used to seriously watch it every Sunday afternoon. And loved the bits with Christmas! =)

Okay so the only ones you mentioned I HAVEN'T seen would be the Narnias (actually I think I saw the newer one once) and Poirot and Victoria & Albert and the Larkrise episode.

Little Women is fun to watch at Christmas time! =D

Charity U said...

Love Little Women. :) Haven't seen those Poirot's, but I do love the books, and have enjoyed the movies I've seen! know I love that. Her "Christmas" dress in 2009 is so pretty!

And I definitely adore LWW, the newer version. The old one makes me wince. :P

Ella said...

I've seen almost all of those movies at one time or another.
Merry Christmas!

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