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My Top Five Christmas Films

Author: Kristina Cooper

Picture: Jonathan Roumie played Jesus in The Shepherd, the pilot for The Chosen. Wikimedia Commons

My Top Five Christmas Films

Christmas tends to be a time when we watch more TV together as families. Kristina Cooper shares her favourite films, many available on streaming services, YouTube or to buy on DVD.

1. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

This Frank Capra black and white classic, made in 1946 is probably one of the best loved films of all time. It ticks every box! It is a wonderful story, with endearing characters and beautifully filmed.  It tells the story of George Bailey (James Stewart), a man who throughout his life, has gives up his dreams, whether it is going away to study, or to honeymoon abroad, so others can be helped. But a series of events one Christmas Eve brings him to the verge of suicide. An old fat angel, called Clarence comes to his rescue and shows him, that he is not the failure and how his life and choices have transformed the lives of others for good.

2. WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND

This 1961 black and white film directed by Bryan Forbes, starring Hayley Mills, tells the story of three Lancashire farm children, who find a bearded and dangerous fugitive (Alan Bates in his first role) hiding in their barn and mistake him for Jesus Christ. The story spreads among the children in the village who come to visit him. There are many echoes of the Bethlehem story, as the children kneel in front of him, bringing him gifts. A magical story with many Christian resonances and an interesting ending.

3. MILLIONS

This 2004 comedy-drama written by Frank Cottrell- Boyce and directed by Danny Boyle tells the story of two brothers, 9 year old Damian and 12 year old Anthony, who have just lost their mother. A bag of stolen money is thrown from a train and lands in Damian’s den, which he sees as a gift from heaven. The film in an amusing and heart-warming way charts the different ways the boys use the money – Damian in good acts and his brother to build a power base. A delightful, imaginative film with a solid gospel message.

4. THE NATIVITY

This is a 2010 four part BBC TV series written by Tony Jordan,  the script writer of the soap, East Enders. When he was originally commissioned to write it, the writer did not believe in the nativity story and he intended to give it a modern, new spin. As he researched the story, however, he was touched by the power of it. The result is a fresh retelling of the biblical story with the eyes of someone who has just heard the gospel for the first time.  I was particularly touched by the portrayal of Mary played with freshness and simplicity by Tatiana Masiany.

5. THE SHEPHERD (pilot of THE CHOSEN)

“The Shepherd” directed and written by Dallas Jenkins in 2017, tells the story of Simon, a crippled shepherd, who becomes involved in the birth of the Messiah and is healed through the encounter. The film was originally conceived as a small film for the director’s church, but was so anointed that it became the pilot for  the phenomenon that became The Chosen. The Chosen is a wonderful retelling of the gospels, imagining how the individual disciples might have reacted to being on the road with Jesus. Jonathan Rumie, who plays Jesus, has an endearing Mediterranean accent, and the actor himself, who is a Catholic, became a committed believer, shortly before taking up the role. The Shepherd, about the birth of Christ from the shepherd’s point of view,  is the story that launched it all.

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