I started loving this made-for-television movie (screen play by Eleanor Perry) back in 1972, watched it religiously for several seasons; and then it seemed to disappear. I was so happy when it reappeared in my life, first on VHS and now on DVD. Of course, it's also a book (by Gail Rock) which I had never even read until a year or so ago, when I got the gift idea of giving copies of the book along with copies of the movie and felt I should read before sending.
While reading House Without a Christmas Tree, I could see the movie playing in my mind's eye and hear it in my mind's ear -- I guess if we have a "mind's eye," then we also have a "mind's ear," right? The voice-over narration that accompanies the movie and much of the dialogue comes word for word from the book. My usual pattern is to read the book first and think of the movie as a visual aid; but in this case, it's the opposite, the novel serving as script / reference work. Well, that works too.
What I always liked best about the movie were the transitions before each commercial when the final scene would freeze and then morph from realistic to a cut and paste bulletin board version of the same image: Dad's truck, the night kitchen, the Christmas Star. Does anyone else remember that?
After the commercial break, the sequence would occur in reverse: the construction paper school building, Grandmother in the kitchen, and the Nativity Stage slowly becoming real as the action resumed. Even now, we wait for the moment of our favorite changes and try to guess which one is coming next. You'd think we'd have them memorized by now -- but maybe not, if you're only watching once a year. Of course, that's part of the charm.
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Art Project, 1995