Short Film: The Night Before Christmas (1905)


#1

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#2

The nanny had tucked all the children in bed,
But visions of pillow-fights danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Shouted “Go the fuck to sleep!”

(I like how Cindy Lou Who, who started the pillow fight, ends up standing at the foot of the beds, enjoying the show.)

P.S. Santa decorating the tree (at 7:18) is one of the earliest examples of cinematic special effects. Audiences (of the silent film) in the 1900’s had their minds blown.


#3

I’d always thought people back then had more taste when it came to decorating the tree, but apparently not. Also, Dunder and Blitzen?


#4

Probably working from an earlier copy of the poem. The names mutated a fair bit.

Or it’s just perfectly understandable Blitzen / Mifflin confusion.


#5

I’d forgotten about the Dutch word for thunder, although then it would be “Donder and Bliksem”, not “Dunder and Blitzen/Blixem” (alternate/anglicised spellings, perhaps?). German is more common in the US as a second language, so I guess it makes sense that it would be changed at some point or other, especially if the spelling had already migrated a little. I was thinking people had misheard “Donner” as something like “Dunderhead”.


#6

Assuming that the original author was fluent in Dutch and not just riffing on something half-remembered from elsewhere. Language and especially names get really weird like that.
The original 1823 publication (there’s a tiny pic of it below) shows Dunder and Blixem. You could probably use the different version of their names as a rough way of estimating the age of the text they were working from.

Anyway, it’s very small, but you can just about spot it in the center of the text. If I find a better pic, I’ll add it. :smile:

It’s interesting that in the 1837 manuscript after the poem’s authorship was claimed by Clement Moore, their names have already been changed to the more Anglicized/Germanic ones.


#7

I don’t know about Dunder, but Blitzen now, after Santa bought a Prius instead, became a frontman of the Blitzenkrieg heavy metal band.
http://www.lifeaftersanta.com/blitzen/bio.html

(What’s with the world? You cannot even make up a Blitzenkrieg joke without somebody else beating you to it, and even turning it into a Toyota marketing campaign…)


#8

Thanks for featuring this. I’d like to add that Santa was played by Harry Eytinge, who was featured in many early Edison films.


#9

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