Thursday, December 20, 2012

Howard Blake "Walking In The Air"

My friend Erica posted a story on her Facebook Newsfeed that led with this headline:

"Raymond Briggs: The Snowman is not really about Christmas, it's about death"

Uh, a five year old could have told you that.

Hell, a two year old could have told you that.

Specifically, my five year old and two year old.

If you've never seen it, "The Snowman" is an Oscar-winning, half-hour animated feature about a boy who befriends a snowman.  The Snowman and the boy play, bond, fly and dance with other snowmen in beautiful, word-less, animated tale.  We got our VHS copy as a hand-me-down from my friend Lynn, who's kids had outgrown it.

The music, by Howard Blake, is haunting, beautiful and magical, and I'm sure that is largely what drew my kids in to their first viewings of the Special, last year.

But after a few showings, my daughter, then 4, seemed uneasy with the end.  In the last scene, the boy awakes the morning after his adventure, goes outside to play with the Snowman, only to find it has melted.  My son, who was only one last year, had no particular reaction, and asked to watch it again.

This year was a whole different story.

A year is a long time for a kid and I don't know if either of them really remembered the plotline of "The Snowman."  But I can tell you that emotionally, this long year put them in a different space.

This year, when it got to the final scene where the Snowman is gone, my 2 year old son did process what had happened.  And he himself nearly melted.

He's not so old that he can really articulate his emotions.  But he knows how to sob.  "The Snowman.  Gone!  Aaaaaaaaaaah!"

Being one to take emotional cues quite easy, my daughter, who was slightly upset already, also began to cry.

So my wife and I talked to the kids in the way that you talk to kids about death, without talking about it.

"The Snowman lives in the little boy's heart.  A Snowman can't last forever, but what beautiful memories the boy will always have."

I have the feeling that if my son could articulate his feelings, he would have yelled, "Why did you make me watch this movie when the existential end seems so bleak!!!"

So yeah, Raymond Briggs, thanks for the big reveal.

I never would have guessed that your story was about death, by the way my kids cry, even now, at the site of the VHS cover.

Hear the song on Youtube.

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