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Snowman, The (1982)

Courtesy of Snowman Enterprises

Main image of Snowman, The (1982)
Snowman Enterprises for Channel Four
26 mins, colour
ProducerJohn Coates
DirectorDianne Jackson
Music/Music ConductorHoward Blake
Performed bySinfonia Of London
Based on the book byRaymond Briggs

A young boy dreams that his snowman comes to life.

Show full synopsis

The animated short film The Snowman was a huge success when it appeared on Channel 4 in 1982. Based on an already successful children's story by Raymond Briggs (whose When the Wind Blows and Father Christmas have also been animated, in 1986 and 1992 respectively), it has since become a regular fixture of Christmas television schedules.

While The Snowman's animation is remarkably faithful to Briggs's original illustrations, the animators bring the book to life, favouring a rough but vivid pencil style over Disney-esque polish. This deceptive simplicity adds to the film's charm.

The film's success was helped by its original orchestral score by Howard Blake. Although young Welsh choirboy Aled Jones launched an unlikely career on the back of the memorable 'Walking in the Air', the performance for the film itself was recorded by Peter Auty. Briggs's book avoided speech, and the film likewise relies on its images and music to move the story on, with occasional sound effects when characters interact with objects, like the bells on a Christmas tree, or a motorbike. Music is the voice of the film, enhancing the story where dialogue might dilute the magic.

Sweet and perhaps old-fashioned, The Snowman taps into the magical spirit of Christmas, and now seems almost as much a part of the season as sherry and mince pies. Alongside Aardman's Wallace and Gromit series, it is probably the most successful British example of family-oriented animation.

Victor Opeyokun

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Channel 4 and Animation
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