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The Snowman

From Academic Kids

The Snowman

The Snowman is the name of a children's book by British author Raymond Briggs, published in 1980. In 1982, this book was turned into an animated movie by Dianne Jackson for the fledgling Channel 4. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Short in 1983. It has been shown every year since and has become a part of British Christmas popular culture. The cartoon version was scored by Howard Blake.

The book and film have no words, instead telling the story through picture, action and music. This adds to their charm, as well as making them easy to publish in other languages.

The film's one song, "Walking in the Air," was written especially for it and performed by a St Paul's Cathedral choirboy, Peter Auty. The song was released as a single, reaching number 5 in the UK charts, sung by Welsh chorister Aled Jones.

The Snowman is the tale of an unnamed boy who builds a snowman one winter's day. (The day appears to be either Christmas or New Year's Eve, but it is not explicitly stated.) 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, and the boy's attempts to control him, all while keeping quiet enough not to wake his parents.

In the second part of the story, the pair fly to the North Pole – the song "Walking in the Air" appears at this point – 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. Next morning the sun has come out, and the boy wakes up to find the snowman has melted. The viewer begins to wonder if the night's events were all a dream, but the boy discovers that he still has the scarf given to him by Father Christmas.

Contents

Alternate Beginning

After the initial showing on Channel 4, and in its intial showings on U.S. television, an alternative introduction was sometimes used. Instead of Raymond Briggs describing how much it had snowed the winter he made The Snowman, while walking through the field that morphed into the animation of the same landscape, David Bowie was shown walking into a boy's room reciting the same speech while holding a scarf that resembles the one given to the boy towards the end of the film. This opening was not used in either the VHS or DVD releases of the film.

Parodies

A "serious" parody, "The Excreman" was created by a Hong Kong writer, Brian Tse, the creator of McMug and McDull cartoons. In that story the snowman was replaced by an "excreman", a "man" made up of excretion. The story was made touching and melancholy similar to the original story, though some teachers and educators saw that was an indecent yet ridiculous fairy tale.

Other Christmas stories

Another Raymond Briggs book/film in a similar vein is The Bear.

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