December 9, 2011

The Grinch In the Details

Ah, I love coming home from work on these cool December evenings. After showering and putting on pajamas, it's so nice to simply rest on the couch, hot cocoa in hand (with as many mini marshmallows as I can squeeze into the mug), and watch Christmas DVDs. I've already been through several of the classics ("Miracle On 34th Street," "The Christmas Story," "Bells of St. Mary's," etc.), though I always save "It's a Wonderful Life" for Christmas Eve. If there's one holiday film that always gets overlooked, it's "The Bishop's Wife" starring Cary Grant; it's a beautiful movie that not too many people know.

Though right now, I'd like to talk a little bit about one video that everyone should be familiar with: "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." I don't mean the live action version with Jim Carrey (which is pretty good), but the classic cartoon that features the narration of Boris Karloff and the infectious song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" as sung by Thurl Ravenscroft (the voice of Tony the Tiger). If you're anything like me, you've probably seen this one many times. It is a must-see every year.

For me, much of the cartoon's charm is in the attention to the tiny details. For example, while the Grinch's cave is dank and cold, have you ever looked closely at his bedroom? With the exception of a few patches on his blanket, it looks quite comfortable and inviting, almost regal.

The Whos' homes have some lovely decor as well, such as the wood-burning stoves in their kitchens and the artsy candle holders that adorn the tables for the feast.

The film also has some amazing sound effects. One of my favorites comes when the Grinch climbs the ladder to the roof of the first house in the square. The rungs sound like they're about to snap and the pained look on Max's face really completes the scene. I also love the noise that the ornaments make as they roll out of the drainpipe and into a bag by the Grinch's sleigh. Very charming. Of course, the violin-sawing sound when the Grinch is removing the extra points from Max's antlers is brilliant. :)

I love the way the Grinch's shadow slinks across the bed as he gets ready to steal the candy canes from the children. It's also his shadow that talks to Cindy Lou Who; the dichotomy of his giant Grinchy form next to her tiny, colorful youth is wonderful. She flabbergasts him with an innocent question and the only reply he can give to justify his actions is a lie. It's a marvelous scene.

I always enjoy the otherworldly landscapes that pass by as the Grinch ascends in his sleigh to the apex of Mount Crumpit.

Of course, it is here on the mountaintop where the Grinch finally comes to the realization that Christmas "doesn't come from a store." Check out the way that the background colors vacillate between yellow and orange at this part to reflect the Grinch's new sunny outlook. "It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags." Simple genius.

So, the next time you watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," be on the lookout for some of those great Dr. Seuss treasures that are everywhere in the cartoon. "Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand." Cheers!

"And be ye kind one to another,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ's sake
hath forgiven you."

~Ephesians 4:32