The 2011 production of Arthur Christmas is an animated wonder that is sure to entertain families everywhere for years to come. As Santa is delivering presents on Christmas Eve and into the early hours of the Christmas morning, his high-tech, fool-proof "sleigh,"run by his eldest son Steve, ensures that no child is missed on this special day - almost. When it is discovered that a child has been missed, Santa's younger son, Arthur, believes that no child should be missed no matter what. He then proceeds to go on a crazy adventure in order to make that child's wish come true. Even though this film is animated, it follows many of the traditional rules and guidelines to which a regular film adheres. In one of the final scenes where the gift is finally delivered to the child, the cinematography makes the scene captures the audience's attention and allows them to feel the emotions that Arthur is feeling at that moment. The combination of close-ups, color, and the depth of field within the shot adds to the scene and gives children and parents alike an appreciation of the work put into the movie while enchanting their Christmas souls.
Arthur is an innocent young man who believes in Christmas and his father, Santa, to bring true joy to all the children who believe in him. When he found out that a child had been missed, it was his mission to get that child her gift. After having delivered the present in the nick of time, Arthur, Santa, and Steve decide to stay to watch her open the gift. The expressions on Arthur's face during this scene adds to the emotional appeal of the entire film. A close-up is strategically utilized on Arthur's face during this scene. Santa, Steve and Arthur are all shoved in a closet and crack open the door to look at the little girl opening her gift. We get a look at Steve's face, and then, we look at Arthur's face. Steve has a puzzled look on his face, and a question in his eyes as to why exactly they are all watching a little girl open her gift. Arthur on the other hand has a look of pure joy and excitement. It does not matter that he just flew all around the world to get this little girl her gift because his joy has come from watching her joy. We see his eyebrows lift in excitement and his awkward smile light up his face with such detail. Where we are only given a close-up of Steve's face, an extreme close-up on Arthur's face shows the audience just how important Christmas is for Arthur. As The Film Experience states, these close-ups suggest the importance of an object or a "character's feelings or thoughts (pg 109)." We see the feelings and emotions on each of the characters' faces, showing the audience the importance of the event to each character.
While close-ups and extreme close-ups were able to capture the wonder of Arthur's emotion, the utilization of color within this scene truly enhances the moment. Throughout the movie, we see how bright colors represent Arthur's happy mood and good feelings which the audience can interpret. When he is feeling sad, the colors turn to grays and blues, representing his hopelessness at the moment. The same applies to the scene where the little girl opens her gift. The colors of the stairway and hallway are completely dark and dismal. The audience understands that Arthur is nervous about giving this gift and hopes that the girl likes it. The instant that the little girl goes into the living room with her gift, the Christmas tree lights up and bright colors illuminate the whole room. There is a yellow glow which radiates from the room, and the little girl looks as if she has a light coming directly from her. This light and color gets reflected onto Arthur's face when the camera cuts to his face. We feel the happiness and joy that Arthur is experiencing, thus enhancing the emotional value of the movie. Just like The Film Experience states, "Color profoundly affects our experience and understanding of a film shot... (pg.114)."
The entire film is focused on getting the little girl her much wanted gift. When the little girl finally receives her gift with Santa, Steve and Arthur looking onto the scene, the focus is completely on the little girl. The utilization of shallow focus allows a "narrow range of the field" to be focused (pg. 113). We see that the characters are focusing on the little girl and only that. We see past the door to the closet, past the stairwell and the hallway, to get a shot centered completely on the living room where the bright colors of the Christmas tree and gift are located. This focus demonstrates to the audience how important this moment is. It symbolically represents the focus that Arthur had throughout the whole movie to get that girl her gift. This cinematography technique speaks volumes about the emotional impact that this scene should have for the audience.
The emotional appeal of Arthur Christmas will allow this movie to have staying power for years to come. Children and adults alike will love this movie for not only funny antics and cute characters, but the moral of never giving up on your dreams, no matter what they are, will inspire the young and old alike. The cinematography techniques of close-ups and extreme close-ups, the utilization of color and the depth of the field add to the emotional appeal by making the film more technologically spectacular. I would highly recommend this film for the holiday season for any family and any age group. I personally was entertained for the entire movie and would love to see it again!