By: Janet Kim & Shelby Kim | English Columnists
For their last Berkeley Opinion Article this semester, English columnists Janet Kim and Shelby Kim decided to embark on a journey down memory lane, cozying up in their fleece blankets and drinking hot chocolate as they watched the screen flicker with tinges of red and green. Both of the columnists felt as though there was no better way to celebrate the nearing of Christmas than to have a movie marathon! For their movie marathon, Janet and Shelby watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Home Alone.
To Janet, the word Christmas is associated with multiple things: sweet carols, the scent of cinnamon and chocolate, large and luscious fir trees, and open fires. Ever since she was little, Janet remembers helping her Mom set up the Christmas tree in the living room, counting how many presents she would get that year and secretly hoping that one of them would be the Easy Bake oven she had pressed on about for months. Janet also remembers going to Universal Studios every year with her family around Christmas time, in awe of all of the beautiful decorations that transformed the park into a winter wonderland. She specifically remembers the Grinchmas exhibit with all of the Whos of Whoville gathered together, singing and dancing around the beautiful and grand Christmas tree.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is for this very reason, a very special movie to Janet. It was the first translation of a cinema film into reality that she had ever encountered, as her 8-year old self could have never imagined the characters she saw on screen come to life right before her eyes. After the first time she saw the Grinchmas exhibit, How the Grinch Stole Christmas has been one of her favorite Christmas movies since.
The Grinch tells the tale of a mean, nasty green Grinch living on the outskirts of Whoville, scheming to ruin Christmas for all of the Whos. Janet recounts the first few times she watched the film, in which she mistakenly thought the genre of the film was horror. The Grinch is a green, furry, dangerous looking creature, living in what is assumed to be a trash chute of sorts, wreaking havoc on the sweet little Whos. However, the audience soon has no choice but to become sympathetic with the green creature, as he unexpectedly has a big heart.
The cinematography of the film is something magical, with many of the visual elements being comparable to the more recent film, The Hunger Games. Despite being released two decades ago in 2000, the movie is beautifully outfitted with elaborate views of the small, wintery Whoville, as well as extensively detailed makeup and wardrobes for every single one of its characters. To Janet, this is the magic of this film. Contrary to the ridiculousness and over-the-top concept, the film’s message of love and cheer is delivered realistically in a way that easily captures the hearts of both the young and the old. The film is truly magnificent in that the audience is taken on a physical journey beginning in the Grinch’s home upon the dark hill all the way through the bright Christmas lights laden in Whoville.
The film, to Janet, fully embodies what Christmas is. It is every element of Christmas possible, displayed through an array of characters and settings. Watching this film continuously gives Janet feelings of Christmas and cheer and she is more than happy to have shared the experience of watching it this time around with a great friend.
After watching Janet’s favorite pick How the Grinch Stole Christmas, it was time for Shelby’s favorite Christmas movie: Home Alone. Ever since the first movie of the series premiered in early 90s, it has been the Kim family’s annual holiday tradition to marathon the series, dressed in onesies and sitting by the fireplace with some hot cocoa. For Shelby, Christmas has always been a time full of festivities both inside and outside the home. Shelby remembers experiencing a unique combination of Korean and Western holiday traditions, from food to games with family and relatives.
Home Alone is a movie that resonates strongly with Shelby due to the fact that it deals with children staying home alone, facing their fears and imaginations without any adult supervision. When Shelby was younger, both of her parents worked, so she would often come from school to an empty home, where she pictured ghosts and strangers lurking in the dark. For several years, she fought and won countless battles with imaginary figures, keeping secrets from her parents and sister. Shelby’s childhood imagination is in close correlation with the thematic elements of the film, and every time Shelby watches the movie it brings her back to the good old times spent alone at home.
In the movie Home Alone, eight-year-old boy Kevin McCallister wakes up and finds himself stuck in his house alone while the rest of his family has flown to Paris to spend the holidays there. While his parents struggle to make it home before Christmas Day, Kevin struggles to keep a pair of burglars, Harry and Marv, from breaking into his house. With a number of intricate booby traps, Kevin plays with the duo, successfully protecting his home from intrusion before his family gets home.
The film incorporates infamous original musical pieces produced by composer John Williams. Christmas songs, like "O Holy Night" and "Carol of the Bells", are presented in the film, and the movie’s theme song “Somewhere in My Memory” is a holiday classic that transcends generations. The soundtrack adds intensity and focus in the film, and viewers are drawn into Kevin’s mischiefs step by step with the intonations of the music. The film not only brings viewers on an emotional rollercoaster as they see Kevin triumph over the evil burglar duo, but also allows the audience to reminisce on their own childhood memories.
Both films, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Home Alone, are wonderful films to watch with friends and family this upcoming holiday season. Shelby and Janet would like to challenge you, the reader, to find a new personal favorite film this Christmas and to share your experiences with us. Before we sign off, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our readers!
Janet: To be able to share with each other some of our most personal and meaningful memories was something neither of us ever imagined could come from watching Christmas films. Shelby and I would like to sincerely thank the BerkOp staff and our readers for continuing to follow our individual, as well as, collaborative work and look forward to contributing more pieces next semester!
Shelby: Our movie marathon to release stress before finals and to get in the holiday spirit to kick off December and the 25 days of Christmas was a success! I am lucky to have been able to share this experience with Janet, and to our editor Christine for giving us an opportunity to walk back in time into our childhood. I am blessed to have ended my first semester in Berkeley Opinion with such a good note. To our readers, keep posted for more exciting and interesting articles from both of us next semester!