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Movie Reviews

Will It Snow For Christmas  

As the Christmas season approaches, people turn their minds to happier thoughts of friends and family, as well as more materialistic concerns. Cinematically, the sorts of films which people turn to again and again range from the Capra fantasy of It`s a Wonderful Life to the animated version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. In both cases, the idea of Christmas represents a larger belief of the ultimate warmth and kindness within humankind.

But I`ve dug up a little nugget from my local independent video store which is not some lovely little Christmas flick, even as its title asks the question that everyone asks during the month of December - Will it Snow for Christmas? The sight of snow is evident in this picture, and the very end of the film does take place on Christmas Eve, but there is little holiday cheer. That`s because the film depicts the most grim and subtle of abuse that could possibly be inflicted upon innocent people.

In what appears to be a very remote area of France lives what appears, on the outside, to be a fairly normal image of rural country life - the family farm. We see adults, and children, as well as other locals, help in bringing in the crops for the year, and so we think that things are as they should be. But this normalcy disguises a tragic and appalling set-up, as the truth is that this residence is closer to a forced labour camp than a family farm. There is a mother and (a lot of) children, but the mother is not married to the father. The father runs the farm, but does not live with the rest of the family, and instead lives in a nice house somewhere else in the province - with his wife and kids! The mother and kids, on the other hand, live in squalor (they don`t even have proper heating), but are tied to the owner, because without him, they would not have a place to stay, and a single mother with a huge number of children would not be able to have what little she does have by herself.

Hatred and anger simmer within virtually everyone in this household. The children feel and express it most, never once behaving as if they actually love this guy. They hate him, and this is obvious to everyone. On the days when he is not terrorizing them (he freaks out at one kid over something involving a water-line which the kid would not have been in a position to be aware about in the first place), the children are more happy, because it feels like freedom.

The mother`s actions, however, are a little more questionable at first. In fact, she still sleeps with this monster sometimes, which begs the question of whether she is a slave to him in more ways than one. Later on, her anger develops, and we believe that she will finally pack up and leave with the children. But soon the evidence seem to suggest that this is a cycle of behaviour that constantly gets repeated.

I cannot truthfully say that I was immensely entertained by this film - even at 90 minutes, the movie moves very slowly, and does not implement any of the usual melodramatic cues, except for the falsely happy ending. Therefore, there aren`t a lot of high points in the film, because we aren`t being told a story so much as being presented a situation, much like an unintrusive documentary would do. The people work on the fields, have their meals, while angers simmer and sometimes explode, and this is presented authentically; a slice-of-life without the elements to make the story larger than life. That`s an interesting fact when one considers that the premise is shocking and outrageous. Somehow we believe that this could never happen, but I suppose it could be possible. The situation is an example of the exploitation of poor people for richer individuals` benefits: the father obviously sired all these children for the purpose of creating more workers without the strain of having to pay them wages (he also has immigrants, no doubt nearly as impoverished, hanging around the property. What a true capitalist!), while giving the excuse that, hey, you have a house of your own and have heat.... sometimes! The family is unable to get out because they would not be able to last on their own. If the mother wanted to live for herself, she`d have to give up her children, something she does not want to do. And, just as with any capitalist, the father would most likely never be punished for what he`s doing. Who would charge a man who has a family farm, and whose children work with him, and who live in his property? Like I said before, on the outside, everything looks normal.

I always enjoy finding movies like this, not because they will become classics, but just for the experience of saying that I was lucky enough to see something different or interesting. Will it Snow for Christmas? is a good example of a film which was certainly very different, and was very interesting, although fairly difficult as well.

David Macdonald

David Macdonald's Movie Reviews

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