THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1905)
Article 4228 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Edwin S. Porter
What it is: Christmas tale
Santa prepares for his yearly journey, and so do the children waiting for him.
This is a charming little Christmas short, alternating scenes of Santa preparing for his journey and scenes of a family preparing for Santa’s arrival. It’s simply conceived; we see scenes of Santa feeding the reindeer, making toys, and checking his naughty/nice list mixed with scenes of the children hanging up their stockings, trying to sneak out of bed, and having a pillow fight. The best scene in the short is a continuous special effects shot of Santa and his reindeer trotting through the landscape on their way to deliver the presents. The scene also answered a nagging question I had. If Santa doesn’t have any help (he’s seen working alone in each of his scenes), how can he possibly get all the work done in time? Well, the answer is simple. During the delivery sequence, we see Santa bypassing several places (including a whole city) without stopping or even slowing down. I can only conclude from this that there were a lot more naughty children than nice ones on this particular year, thereby making it unnecessary for him to employ the extra elf help that is his wont. And, considering that he makes toys the old-fashioned way, it’s good that he has enough magic to decorate the whole tree with a sweep of his hand; the last thing I wanted to see was Santa spending ten minutes hanging tinsel.