Today we say merry Christmas the Open Culture way, by bringing in a piece of work from the late Maurice Sendak, the children’s author and illustrator who with everything he wrote and drew evaded the limitations of that label. Though most of us remember his books Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen from childhood, whenever our childhoods happened to be, fewer of us have seen his animated work. Above you’ll find a bit of it relevant to this time of year: Sendak’s opening sequence for Simple Gifts. In it we witness a shoeless waif’s metamorphosis into a Christmas tree which attracts and comforts a pair of similarly dispossessed tots. The 1977 anthology film collected six short films, all on the theme of Christmas. But only this first minute and a half comes from the inimitable mind belonging to the man Time called “the Picasso of children’s books.” The video then features Simple Gifts‘ opening remarks from Colleen Dewhurst, who reflects on and draws a lesson from this brief animated tale: “A person gives nothing who does not give of himself.”
Watch the Animation of Maurice Sendak’s Surreal and Controversial Story, In the Night Kitchen
The Mind & Art of Maurice Sendak: A Video Sketch
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.
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