Thirty years ago the British television company Channel Four premiered this enchanting, lyrical film based on the award-winning Raymond Briggs children’s book, The Snowman.
The tale bears some resemblance to the earlier American story, “Frosty the Snowman,” but probes deeper into the psychology of children, conveying the fear and wonder they feel in a mysterious world, and their longing for friendship and magic. It’s more elegantly told, too, using only pictures and music to convey the story. And just as Maurice Sendak said “I refuse to lie to children,” Briggs refuses to provide a Hollywood ending.
The original version of The Snowman includes an introduction by Briggs. A later version (see above) has a similar introduction by David Bowie, who plays the grownup boy from the story. As the introduction ends, Bowie opens a drawer and pulls out a scarf that was given to him during his adventure with the snowman, proving that it was not just a dream.
In 1983, The Snowman was nominated for an Academy Award. It ranks 71st on the British Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest British television programs and was voted number four in UKTV Gold’s “Greatest TV Christmas Moments.” Watching The Snowman has become a holiday tradition in the UK in much the same way that watching A Charlie Brown Christmas has in America. Tonight in Britain, Channel 4 will premiere the long-awaited sequel, The Snowman and the Snowdog, set 30 years later at the same house but with a different boy.