light in the dark

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I haven’t written about a book for weeks. This does not mean that I am not reading. I’m busy at the moment and have a lot to get on with. I’m reading a couple of books and these are making slow headway to their conclusions.

In the meantime however, I’m making time to catch up on a few films I have been meaning to get around to. I caught “Saving Mr Banks” on Friday and have tracked down an IMAX showing of “Gravity” for Tuesday, neither of which I’ll comment on here. I do want to say a few words about “The Christmas Candle”.

This film was introduced to me by my wife who had heard one of the actors interviewed. It took a bit of finding as the cinematic release here in the UK seems somewhat limited and lacklustre. This doesn’t seem so surprising once you have seen it. Our increasingly dour and miserable humanistic society rejects most things with any religious connotation and this film is unashamedly Christian in its outlook.

Our main character Mr David Richmond is invited to serve as vicar in the village of Gladbury. He brings a solid form of Christianity to the pulpit and refuses to acknowledge the claim-to-fame bestowed upon the village by the “Christmas candle” a tradition and superstition dating back for 200 years. This puts him in direct opposition to the hopes of the parishioners who expect him to embrace it as much as his predecessors have done.

His method is to show the village that it is what we do from the goodness of our heart which shows the truth and true miracle of Christmas. In the meantime, greed, selfishness and downright entitlement surround the arrival of the “angel” and their subsequent endowment of the special candle with its magical power. The candlemakers set about correcting a significant upset in this process and in doing so manage to inadvertantly show how hope and healing comes from deep within the hearts of individuals.

In this film we are shown how the spiritual and superstitious sit together, how modern and old coincide and how communities rise and fall on some very basic values.

The story is sentimental and its none the worse for it. It has a heart and a strong sense of where it is heading and the true message is writ large. However it is laid on a bit too thick even for someone who is a Christian. This has a lot to do with the original author “Max Lucado”, and I’m sure the whole thing could have been done with a slightly lighter hand. In this way, it may well have appealed to a much wider audience. After all, how many U rated films with such high production values will be released in a year?

The film does not quite know what time in which it is set, appearing to career around within about a 100year period. This might be because of the transitional nature of the source of light (electric vs candle) but it did seem slightly incoherent as a result.

On the whole the acting is very good and Hans Matheson, Samantha Barks, John Hannah and Sylvester McCoy put in some good performances. However…. the voice of Susan Boyle is divine …. but she really can’t act. At all. A stricter editing could have saved us that , as she quite let the film down on that front.

It could have been the best Christmas film for the next generation bringing a message of hope and being widely accessible, but the heavy emphasis is too heavy and will push many away.

Reviews are polarised: Some have given this a 1/10 . I disagree and wonder just how many  of those had actually seen the film, or whether they just want a cheap and dirty bash at Christianity? The rest give it 10/10. Really? Why? And on what basis? It is by no means perfect, In my book, it trumps “Nativity” which is OK, but quite shallow, but on the other hand is not up there with “Its a wonderful life”.

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