Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

One of the more popular additions to Christmas canon in the 20th century was Dr. Seuss' the Grinch. The fellow first appeared in Seuss' 1957 book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The book was adapted into an animated special by Chuck Jones in 1966, where the Grinch took on his classic green shade and the story was accompanied by the now classic songs "Welcome Christmas" and "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch."

The Grinch was based on Theodor Geisel's own post-Christmas foulness as his own attempt to redeem how he viewed the holiday. He even had a license plate reading "GRINCH" on his car.

Seuss' simple story was adapted faithfully for the special: the town of Whoville joyfully celebrates Christmas, while up on his mountain, the Grinch despises them and their holiday. He then has the idea to make them as miserable as himself by dressing as Santa Claus and stealing all their presents. With his dog Max pulling the sleigh, the Grinch sets out to steal every last vestige of Christmas from the Whos.

During his heist, the Grinch is interrupted by little Cindy Lou Who, who wonders why Santa is stealing the tree. The Grinch makes up an excuse and sends her to bed. Heading back out, the Grinch waits to hear the people of Whoville bemoaning their missing Christmas presents, feasts, and decorations. However, instead of doing this, the people head out to sing again, leaving the Grinch to realize that "Christmas doesn't come from a store, Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." Overcome by goodwill, the Grinch returns everything he stole and is welcomed to celebrate with the Whos.

Audiences have enjoyed the story, and Seuss wisely didn't make the story overtly religious, but Christian groups can read a Christian theme into the Grinch's epiphany if they wish, while non-religious people can appreciate that goodwill doesn't require material goods.

Dr. Seuss did not feature the Grinch in future books, however, in Horton Hears a Who! the titular Horton finds a speck of dust that has the microscopic town of Whoville on it somehow. Whether it is the same Whoville or not is anyone's guess.

The Grinch would reappear in animation, in Halloween is Grinch Night and The Grinch Grinches The Cat In The Hat.

The original Grinch story would be adapted into a live action feature film featuring Jim Carrey as the Grinch. The film expanded on the story and characters, making the Whos a little more three dimensional and giving the Grinch a reason for hating them and Christmas. Also added is the song "Where Are You, Christmas," joining the animated special's songs.

However, the film also adds a lot of risque humor and in my own opinion is a "Thanks, but no thanks" version. I'll stick with the original book and cartoon.

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