Video Review

The Snowman (1991)

MPAA Rating: Unrated
EW's GRADE
A+

Details Movie Rated: Unrated; Genres: Animation, Kids and Family; Distributor: Columbia Tri-Star Home Video

In this often breathtakingly beautiful animated tale (recommended for ages 3 to 9, based on the 1979 award-winning book by Raymond Briggs) about a young boy who builds a snowman that comes alive, a stunning orchestral score serves as the narrator. There is no dialogue, no voice-over narration. The heavy silence of a big snow as it blankets the countryside seems to permeate the story of The Snowman.

At midnight, a little boy creeps downstairs to check on the snowman he built earlier in the day. As the child peers out the window, the snowman slowly turns around to wave at him. Delighted, the boy brings the snowman inside, where they cavort around, the snowman trying on a pair of false teeth and dancing on a skate with the boy. Then the two take off on a motorcycle; as they plow through the snow, catching trees, rabbits, and a fox in the bright yellow beam of the headlight, the boy's cheeks flush pink with cold and excitement. You can almost smell the frigid country air. Back at the boy's house, the snowman takes him by the hand, and they soar high above the snow-covered world.

It's obvious why this production won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for Best Children's Drama. The story of the boy's friendship with his creation is a poignantly moving assertion of how satisfying the imagination can be. The muted style of animation, in which the boy's cheeks and red hair are the only really vivid colors, illustrates perfectly the video's quiet but affecting tone. The music carries the story along so effectively that a viewer forgets the characters never speak. The score and the animation capture the imagination and hold it in thrall until the story's end. A+

Originally posted Jan 18, 1991 Published in issue #49 Jan 18, 1991 Order article reprints
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