Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Classic Nick Wed. – The Snowman

Raymond Briggs’ children's picture book “The Snowman” was first published in 1978 by Hamish Hamilton in the U.K., and published by Random House in the U.S. that November. In 1982 the book was adapted into a 26-minute animated film by Dianne Jackson for the fledgling British public-service Channel 4 which debuted on British television on December 26, 1982 and was nominated for an Academy Award. Later this animated classic aired on Nickelodeon as a Special Delivery.

Howard Blake wrote the score and the story is told through pictures, action and music except for the beautiful song "Walking in the Air". In addition to the orchestral score, performed in the film by the Sinfonia of London, Blake composed the music and lyrics of the song, performed by a St Paul's Cathedral choirboy Peter Auty.

The film was produced using traditional animation techniques, consisting of pastels, crayons and other coloring tools drawn on pieces of celluloid, which were traced over hand drawn frames. For continuity purposes, the background artwork was painted using the same tools.

Film Plot (From Wikipedia)
The Snowman is the tale of a boy who builds a snowman one winter's day. That night, at the stroke of twelve, the snowman comes to life. The first part of the story deals with the snowman's attempts to understand the appliances, toys and other bric-a-brac in the boy's house, all while keeping quiet enough not to wake the boy's parents. The two then venture back outside and go for a ride on a motorcycle, disturbing many animals: pheasants, rabbits, a barn owl, a fox and a brown horse.

In the second part of the story, the boy and the snowman take flight — the song "Walking in the Air" appears at this point. They fly over the boy's town, over houses and large public buildings before flying past the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and West Pier and then out into the ocean. They continue through an arctic landscape and fly past many sights and animals such as penguins. Flying into the aurora they reach their destination.

The two wander hand-in-hand into a snow-covered forest and attend a snowmen's party, at which the boy is the only human. They meet Father Christmas and his reindeer, and the boy is given a scarf with a snowman pattern.

The story ends after the return journey. However, the sun has come out the next morning and the boy wakes up to find the snowman has melted. The boy begins to wonder if the night's events were all a dream, but he discovers that he still has the snowman scarf given to him by Father Christmas. Realizing the night's events were real, as the credits play, the boy mourns the loss of his new friend.

Stage Version
In 1986 The Contact Theatre, Manchester, adapted and produced by Anthony Clark, adapted “The Snowman” into a stage show, which included a full script and used Howard Blake's music and lyrics.  In 1993, Birmingham Repertory Company produced a version, with music and lyrics by Howard Blake, scenario by Blake, with Bill Alexander and choreography by Robert North.

Since 1997 Sadler's Wells has presented it every year as the Christmas Show at the Peacock Theatre. As in the book and the film, there are no words, apart from the lyrics of the song "Walking in the Air". The story is told through images and movement. Special effects include the Snowman and boy flying high over the stage (with assistance of wires and harnesses) and ‘snow’ falling in part of the auditorium. The production has had several revisions – the most extensive happening in 2000, when major changes were made to the second act, introducing new characters: The Ice Princess and Jack Frost.

The Snowman (film)
Directed By: Dianne Jackson
Produced By: John Coates
Written By: Raymond Briggs (Book)
Music By: Howard Blake (Composer)
Peter Auty (Treble)
Sinfonia Of London
Studio TVC London 
Running Time: 27 Min.
Language: English

Distributed By:
Channel 4, Universal Pictures (UK)
Columbia TriStar Entertainment (USA)

Release Date(s:)
26 December 1982 (Original)
29 December 1983 (David Bowie)
24 December 2002 (Mel Smith)

The Snowman – Book 
Author(s) – Raymond Briggs
Illustrator – Raymond Briggs
Country – United Kingdom
Genre(s) – Picture book
Publisher – Hamish Hamilton
Publication Date – 1978 
Media Type – Print
Pages – 32 pp
ISBN – 0241100046
OCLC Number – 788883530
LC Classification – PZ7.B7646 Sn 1978 

My Comments:
On a personal note this is one of my favorite Christmas shows. It’s a beautifully animated classic with beautiful music to accompany it. If you can find this DVD my suggestion to you would be to buy it and introduce your children, or yourself, to the wonderful magic of this moving film.

The Snowman (1982) with Original Introduction

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