Peanuts says ‘Merry Christmas!’
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - December 24, 2015 - 9:00am

The TV Special A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired 50 years ago on Dec. 9, 1965 and has become a Christmas tradition watched lovingly every year. It gave birth to one of the most popular Christmas songs from recent times, Christmas Time Is Here. It was composed by Vince Guaraldi who also did the jazzy soundtrack, and had lyrics by Lee Mendelson.

Like the picture, the song was simple and childlike but also charming and filled with emotional undertones. One cannot help but think of emotions in anything connected with Peanuts. And that holds true even with Peanuts music. The song has been covered by a wide variety of artists ranging from Mariah Carey to Toni Braxton, Kenny Loggins and many others.

Christmas Time Is Here plus Linus And Lucy and Skating, songs performed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio in the TV special have become the Peanuts themes for generations. You hear them and you know that Charlie Brown and his friends cannot be far behind.  Therefore it is no wonder that these songs in their original versions also made it to the soundtrack of Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie.

Spicing up the line-up are some new compositions by music director Christophe Beck, plus That’s What I Like by Flo Rida featuring Fitz and Better When I’m Dancing, a song especially created by the hot pop star Meghan Trainor of All About That Bass fame for the scene where Snoopy is teaching Charlie Brown to dance to impress the Little Red Haired Girl. Very sweet and truly fun.

The Peanuts Movie was produced to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the comics strip by Charles    Schulz and the 50th year of the TV special. The plot is divided between Charlie Brown and his beagle, Snoopy. Charlie Brown has a crush on the Little Red Haired Girl but is afraid that his string of bad luck will never get her to notice him. His friend Lucy helps him to get more confident and he embarks on activities that might catch the Girl’s attention all to no avail, of course. Meanwhile, Snoopy is acting out his fantasy as the World War I Flying Ace trying to rescue his ladylove Fifi from the Red Baron.

It is not much really, given how complicated filmmaking has become. But this is Peanuts where less is always more and warmth is inherent. Truth to tell, when news about this picture came out, I wondered how Peanuts, originally and vastly effective in black and white, pen and ink drawings, would look like in 3D. The results are very good and I am glad the producers retained the linear style for the faces. Changing those would have been disastrous. Watch, I am sure you will find yourself in the Peanuts Movie.

Just like many do every year when they watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. In it, Charlie Brown’s persistent but ever insecure self is portrayed as perplexed over how materialistic Christmas has become. He is disappointed that his friends and even his dog cannot see further than what their hearts’ desire. 

Not all of them though. The boy Linus, so attached to his blankie, is different. In fact, he not only sees Christmas for what it really is, a time of redemption and freedom from fear. And he has shown audiences all over the world year after year the beautiful meaning of the season through this simple scene that Schulz himself wrote.

Charlie Brown: I guess you were right, Linus. I shouldn’t have picked this little tree. Everything I do turns into a disaster. I guess I really don’t know what Christmas is all about. (Shouts) Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

Linus Van Pelt: Sure Charlie Brown I can tell you what Christmas is all about. (And he recites.)

“And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not.’ (Linus drops his security blanket to show he has no more fear.)

“For behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

(Linus picks up his blanket and walks towards Charlie Brown.)

“That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”

Merry Christmas, everybody.

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