Thursday September 26th 2013
Every year throughout the month of December, my flatmate Paul and I begin our annual tradition of gathering around the television each Sunday afternoon to seek out the very worst Netflix has to offer in over-sentimental, overtly religious Christmas films. Last year I highlighted five such treasures (all from the ABC Family stable) on this blog, but there were plenty more I failed to mention. (I have especially fond memories of the 2005 caper Crazy for Christmas, in which a plucky single mom / limousine driver must chauffeur an eccentric billionaire around Manhattan on Christmas Eve, whilst desperately attempting to unravel the mystery of whether or not he molested her as a child.)
It may only be September, but I can already say with some confidence that I’ve located the gem of this year’s festive programme: The Christmas Candle.
Produced by the ultra-Christian production outfit EchoLight Studios (who recently announced the appointment of Rick Santorum as CEO), The Christmas Candle is essentially a two-hour exercise in religious pamphleteering disguised as family entertainment, the theatrical equivalent of those guys who stand outside the Scientology centre on Tottenham Court Road offering passers-by a ‘free quiz’. Now I know what you’re thinking — “forgive my ignorance, but what is this Christmas Candle?” — so allow me to cut and paste a plot synopsis:
‘The Christmas Candle is a timeless and inspirational story based on the novel by bestselling author, Max Lucado. Nothing out of the ordinary ever happens in the small village of Gladbury — except at Christmas. Legend has it that every twenty-five years an angel visits the village candlemaker and touches a single candle. Whoever lights the Christmas Candle receives a miracle on Christmas Eve. But in 1890, at the dawn of the modern age, all that is about to change. With the arrival of David Richmond, a skeptical, young minister, Gladbury’s humble candlemaker, Edward Haddington must fight to preserve his family’s legacy. When the Christmas Candle goes missing, the miraculous and the human collide in the most astonishing Christmas the town of Gladbury has ever seen.’
A timeless and inspirational story, if by ‘timeless’ you mean ‘set very decidedly in the late 19th Century in order to facilitate an era-specific plot device involving the commercialisation of the incandescent light bulb’.
When the trailer went online earlier this week, most commentators zeroed in on the inclusion of Susan Boyle in a minor role, but it’s important to remember that The Christmas Candle is about more than just cynical stunt casting and shameless cross-promotion with the upcoming Christmas album of a fading Scottish reality show contestant; it’s about the true spirit of Christmas. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the film’s god-fearing Facebook page, filled to bursting with inspirational promo images like this one featuring novelist (and Reader’s Digest’s Preacher of the Year 2005) Max Lucado, upon whose book the film is based:
Jesus has his ticket for The Christmas Candle. Do you have yours?