Before going back to school… Miracle on the 34th street

Are you capable of having faith? Can you believe in Santa? These are the questions asked by the Christmas comedy-drama directed by Les Mayfield and produced by Hughes.

It’s Thanksgiving Day. Like every year, the reindeer sleigh guided by Santa Claus must close the parade of the famous Cole department store. Tony, the Santa Claus of that year, is drunk and Dorey Walker, director of the show, to replace him hires Kris Kringle, an elderly gentleman passing by and very similar to Santa Claus. All the children believe he is the real Santa, except Susan, the daughter of Dorey (played by Mara Wilson), a little girl who has clear ideas about everything. Cole’s business rival, however, manages to get Mr. Kringle into trouble and takes Santa to trial.

There aren’t many special effects in the film, but everything takes place in a magical atmosphere created by the evocative images of New York full of Christmas decorations and by the Christmas music alternating with sad and tense melodies. The actors are very appropriate to the characters. Richard Attenborough, the actor of Kris Kringle, is always smiling, cheerful, kind and Elizabeth Perkins is perfect for the part of Dorey Walker, a closed woman, with a mischievous smile, disappointed in her previous life, and who at first does not believe in Santa Claus.

In general, the scenes involve the viewer and make him/her feel part of the story.

A moving scene is Kris Kringle in the psychiatric asylum, sitting alone and sad, he who is usually so cheerful. He decided that it is better for the children to believe that he is just a crazy old man, rather than to think that Santa is violent.

A key moment in the film is the speech in which Santa Claus explains to Dorey Walker, that he is not just a cheerful and good old man dressed in red, rather he is a symbol of love and generosity. Believing in him means knowing how to believe by faith, overcoming one’s doubts.

Despite being an old film (released in 1994) it continues to fascinate and excite today’s viewers. A classic to revisit on Christmas, and not only…

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Nelva Sanchez


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