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When it comes to naming the most essential Christmas movies, there are titles that come to mind straight away: It’s a Wonderful Life, Love Actually, Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone.
Hollywood Christmas movies as a genre need to include wholesome storytelling – and themes of winter, food and family. Films that can be enjoyed with the family over Christmas.
In recent years, Die Hard has been also included in this list. The R-rated Bruce Willis action movie, set on Christmas eve, spikes in popularity around the holiday season – because it’s a Christmas movie.
While the ‘Is-Die-Hard-A-Christmas-Movie’ debate took thirty years to settle, there is one other great Christmas film that is often overlooked as well:
Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 psychological horror The Shining.
The Shining tells the story of author Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), who becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and his son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on murdering his own family.
Although there are skeptics, if you look closely at the cinematic elements of The Shining, it is undoubtedly a Christmas movie.
The imagery, music, and themes all point to Christmas. The heart of the film is based around a family coming together for the holidays – during winter – which is Christmas time in Colorado.
The big stars, the cosy fireplaces, and the big dinners. It is undeniable that this film deserves to make the Christmas Movie list alongside the likes of Love Actually and The Holiday – but debates still rage.
Unlike Die Hard, this may never be officially settled.
The simple fact is, when you dive deep into the actual film, it’s undeniable that The Shining wouldn’t exist without the spirit of Christmas – and the universal themes of family, holidays, love, and slipping into a supernatural state of psychosis that turns you into a rampaging murderer.
The best part about this Christmas movie is that it can be enjoyed all year round with the family.