Number one: “Little Lord Fauntleroy” — This film is a real dark horse. Most don’t even know it exists. It has a simple, well-constructed plot, charming characters, and culminates on Christmas Day with the full redemption of an old man. Like Scrooge, the old man’s spirit had withered, but was recovered through the pure and innocent love of a young child (“and a little child shall lead them”—Isaiah 11:6). I like the 1980 version, starring Ricky Schroder and the incomparable Alec Guinness, known to my generation for his Oscar-winning role in “The Bridge over the River Kwai,” and to younger movie-goers as Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The most common elements in these five movies are the power that children have to touch our hearts, the wonder of redemption, and the opportunity for rebirth. Indeed, birth and rebirth is what Christmas is all about. When a baby is born, it signifies the eternal hope that life can be pure, gentle, loving, and peaceful. Babies are living miracles. I love the way Luke relates how the Virgin Mary, shortly after her spiritual conception of Jesus, visits her elderly relative, Elisabeth, who had become pregnant with John the Baptist six months earlier, and John “leaped in [her] womb for joy” (Luke 1:44). How can one read that and not recognize the humanity of babies as people? And what greater wonder (and hope) can there be that there actually was a baby who brought to light Immanuel—God with us—to heal, restore, and bless?
Merry Christmas, everyone. Enjoy those Christmas movies, and may you feel as a palpable presence the holy benediction “on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).