Making the Grades
Miracle on 34th Street is a Christmas tradition in many homes, although mine is not one of them. I have always been fond of another Christmas classic, It's A Wonderful Life. But either way, millions of people look forward to seeing these beautiful movies on an annual basis. Now, just like cola drinks and phone companies, we have a choice of miracles from which to select, with John Hughes' 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street.
If you are scratching your head wondering where you have heard the name John Hughes before, you may remember him as the creator of the Home Alone series, along with a few other films of the same genre. I was sorely disappointed when I found out he was doing the remake, as I couldn't imagine this time honored story being intermixed with stupid crooks and smart mouthed kids. Fortunately, my disappointment was short lived.
This highly recommendable version of the 1947 classic features intelligent characters. Richard Attenborough is Kris Kringle, the department store Santa, who really believes he is the midnight present giver, while Elizabeth Perkins plays the skeptical Mrs. Walker who is trying to protect her precocious daughter Susan (Mara Wilson) from believing in fairytales like Santa Claus! The script is tight and manages to hold onto the same spirit that has held the black and white film in it's chosen place for so long thanks in part to Hughes's use of George Seaton as a co-writer I'm sure. Seaton wrote and directed the original production that led him to win an Oscar for best story and screenplay, as well as a nomination for best picture. Working together, Hughes and Seaton have managed to update the story and provide some new twists, without losing any of the charm.
What I really like about the film is that it doesn't demand children believe in the Jolly Old Elf in the literal sense. Unlike The Santa Clause, another popular movie, the viewer is left with the option of deciding who and what they think Saint Nick is all about. Except for a few bad words from the villain, this movie should be suitable for f the whole family and even offers a spiritual message in the end. Religion in a Christmas movie? What will they think of next...
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Miracle On 34th Street (1994).
Why are Mrs. Walker and Susan so skeptical about miracles? Is it right to judge the future by past experiences?
What are your favorite Christmas movies? How does your family feel about Santa Claus and some of the other traditions of the season?