Watch The Snowman, the Classic Animated Children’s Tale Introduced by David Bowie

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.

Relat­ed con­tent:

David Bowie and Bing Cros­by Sing ‘The Lit­tle Drum­mer Boy’ in 1977

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