Amoeblog

Silent night - Christmas movies of the silent era

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 6, 2009 11:55am | Post a Comment
A Christmas Past DVD         A Christmas Carol & Old Scrooge DVD

Happy St. Nicholas Day! For your enjoyment, a little somethin' to break the monotony of all that hardcore Christmas that has gotten to be a little bit out of control...


Santa Claus
(1898) was directed by George Albert Smith (Weary Willie, Making Sausages), a former portrait photographer and member of the UK's Brighton set. In 1906, he and Charles Urban patented the world's first commercial color film process, Kinemacolor. Smith was something of an English Georges Méliès, employing and pioneering the use of special effects, mostly in the fantasy genre.

Scrooge; or Marley's Ghost (1901) was apparently the first adaptation of seemingly millions of Dickens's novel.


The Night Before Christmas
(1905) was directed by the great Edwin S. Porter (Uncle Josh in a Spooky Hotel, Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show, The Gay Shoe Clerk) and is a pretty loose adaptation of the famous poem by Clement Moore. It will undoubtedly appeal to fans of dioramas and vintage children.

Krampus

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 5, 2008 10:07am | Post a Comment
Last year I posted an entry about St. Nicholas and the rather unsavory company he keeps. Child murderers, demons and hags (oh my). Well, the Krampus proved very popular, earning me another nickname that has stuck around throughout the year.

The Krampus is a demon that, with the approval of kindly St. Nick, terrorizes bad children and apparently lusts after the ladies. His chief implements of torture seem to be a switch and a tongue which would embarass Gene Simmons. This is designed to frighten children into behaving well. Germanic peoples have always understood that the best way to rear children is by keeping them terrified of the consequences of bad behavior. My mother used to get on the phone to call "The Nanny," a character who rammed food down the throats of ungrateful children with her thorny stick. I credit my continued membership in the Clean Plate Club to these threats.

Der Struwwelpeter der struwwelpeter illustration

If you've never read Der Struwwelpeter then you don't know what you're missing. It's a childrens book which uses stories and wonderful illustrations to suggest that misbehavior is likely to end in disaster and even death. It's a wonderful tool.

So, enjoy these Krampuses, have a happy St. Nicholas Day and behave or die!

Krampus studying the globe Krampus flyingKrampus in motorcycle
First Krampus scours the globe. With many means of travel available, hiding is futile.

It's the Eve of St. Nicholas Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 5, 2007 01:08pm | Post a Comment
It's already December 5th again. Everyone knows that I'm obsessed with holidays and St. Nicholas Day is one of my favorites. Most people have heard David Sedaris' story about Santa Claus vs. St. Nicholas and maybe some of us know that he was a Greek bishop in present-day Turkey who became the patron saint of children by resurrecting their little corpses and paying off debts of the living to keep them out of child sex slavery.
 
I know people still exchange gifts at least in parts of the Middle West. Fewer of us still stuff our shoes with carrots and hay for his white horse Amerigo (or in some places a donkey) with the expectation that tomorrow we'll find our initials in chocolate, chocolate coins or marzipan. Of course, if we've been bad there might be some salt or a bundle of sticks to get switched with.

In different parts of the world he's accompanied by different comrades.
 
Probably most well known is Zwarte Piet who is his companion in Flanders and the Netherlands. Originally Zwarte Piet was a nickname for the Devil and, after arriving from Spain, he threatened to stuff bad kids into his sack and take them back with him. In the 19th century, in typically misguided proto-Political Correctness, he was re-cast as a Moorish servant in blackface wearing colorful clothing from the Renaissance. Satan is too offensive, Moorish slavery is still unfortunately commonplace, so I guess it's not as tasteless. If you look up Sinterklaas on YouTube you will be shocked by the prevalence of blackface, which no one there seems to find remotely controversial. All the comments are in Dutch and I guess you don't see a lot of black people in Holland unless Urban Dance Squad is still around.