For many people, they are just as much a part of the festival as the Christmas tree and "Oh du Fröhliche": Christmas films that let you wallow in nostalgia, shorten the holidays and the wait for presents. But where did the most popular classics actually come from?
Cinderella runs in a dusky pink hooded cloak across a snow-covered terrace towards a brightly lit castle - at a window she breathes a peephole into the icicles on the pane. The example of a film that enjoys cult status during the Christmas season.
According to a recent survey, "Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella" is the most popular Christmas film among adults in Germany - on a par with "Kevin - Alone at Home". "The Little Lord" and "Sissi" follow in the other places. But one in five also says: "I don't watch Christmas films."
This week, all of those movies are back to traditional television. But where were "Cinderella", "Kevin" or "The Little Lord" actually filmed? A trip to locations where popular Christmas classics were filmed, located in Saxony or the Salzkammergut, in England or even Illinois.
"Three hazelnuts for Cinderella": The evil stepmother's crazy costumes, the prince in the snow, the shoe on the stairs to the castle, Rosalie the owl, Santa Claus the horse - millions of Germans are familiar with it. Above all, the music by Karel Svoboda creates a homely atmosphere and you can hardly get it out of your head when the fairy tale co-production by CSSR and GDR from 1973 is shown on the screen again. The pretty yellow baroque castle from "Tri orísky per Popelku" (that's the Czech title) is Moritzburg Castle in the Meissen district near Dresden. It markets its fame with a winter film exhibition. It will be up and running again by the end of February.
"The Little Lord": The British TV film by Jack Gold (original: "Little Lord Fauntleroy") from 1980 gets good ratings on German television every Christmas season. The film is about little Cedric (Ricky Schroder), who lives impoverished with his mother in New York. Little does he know that his deceased father belonged to a British aristocratic family and was disinherited for marrying a middle-class American woman. One day, his grumpy grandfather (Alec Guinness) invites the eight-year-old to England. He would like to get to know his only descendant and educate him appropriately. Belvoir Castle in the English county of Leicestershire functions as the castle in which Cedric softens the earl's hard heart. Most of the interior shots were taken in studios.
"Actually ... Love" (now on RTL ): The department store where Harry (Alan Rickman) wants to buy his secretary and lover Mia (Heike Makatsch) an expensive chain in the same shop, as unnoticed as possible by his wife, and the seller (" Mr. Bean" comedian Rowan Atkinson) invested a lot of time in their artistic packaging is not Harrods. It's Selfridges department store
"Home Alone": The grand-looking home of the McAllister family, who flies to Paris for Christmas and accidentally forgets their youngest son, is in the Chicago area of Illinois. Airbnb caused a stir last year because the "Home Alone" villa was bookable there. Many scenes from the film - especially those with the traps for the nasty burglars - were probably not shot in the house, but on a set in a gym. All the same. The world-famous clinker house is not far from Lake Michigan, about 30 kilometers north of downtown Chicago. The Winnetka address is 671 Lincoln Avenue.
In a narrower sense, these are films that revolve around the motif of Christmas and the customs associated with the festival. It is often about the core of Christmas, i.e. love, the belief that there is something bigger than just the people on earth, or that it is worth helping those in need - such as children and the poor. Christmas films from the USA are often just romantic comedies in an Advent atmosphere - such as "Love doesn't need a holiday" (Original: "The Holiday"; Director: Nancy Meyers) with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black .
The term "Christmas film" is also more often used for homely films that are traditionally broadcast on television around Christmas without having a direct connection to the holiday. In Germany, these include, for example, the "Sissi" films with Romy Schneider, the "Kevin" films with Macaulay Culkin, the school comedy "Die Feuerzangenbowle" with Heinz Rühmann, which was filmed during the war, or the GDR film fairy tale "Three hazelnuts for Cinderella".
One of the most famous Christmas films worldwide is the Hollywood melodrama "Isn't Life Beautiful?" from 1946. In Germany, for example, "Santa Clause - Eine schön Bescherung" with Tim Allen (1994) and "Der Polarexpress" with Tom Hanks (2004) have been successful in cinemas in recent decades, as well as "Der Grinch" (2000 with Jim Carrey and then in 2018 as an animated film with the voice of Otto or in the original Benedict Cumberbatch).