Nine-year-old Ralphie Parker wants only one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and “this thing which tells time”. Ralphie’s desire is refuted with his mother, his teacher Miss Shields, and even a department store Santa Claus, all giving him the same warning: “you’ll shoot your eye out”.
Christmas morning arrives and Ralphie dives into his presents. Although he does receive some presents he enjoys, Ralphie ultimately is disappointed that he did not receive the one thing he wanted more than anything. After it appears all of the presents have been opened, Ralphie’s father, who is referred to throughout the film as “The Old Man”, directs Ralphie to look at one last present that he had hidden. Ralphie opens it to reveal the Red Ryder gun he wanted.
Ralphie takes the gun outside and fires it at a target perched on a metal sign in the backyard. However, the BB ricochets back at Ralphie and knocks his glasses off. While searching for them, thinking he has indeed shot his eye out, Ralphie steps on his glasses and breaks them. In order to cover for the fact that he broke his glasses, Ralphie tells his mother that a falling icicle was responsible for the accident. His mother, not having seen what actually happened, believes him.
The film ends with Ralphie lying in bed on Christmas night with his gun by his side. A voiceover by an adult Ralphie states that this was the best present he had ever received or would ever receive.
Well, that’s the core story (thanks Wikipedia).
But there is a lot that is not listed, so a lot that you can explore in the actual film.
Oh right, I’ve got to talk you into watching first.
So we have a film that harks back to a simpler time, a time when you could go around telling everyone you wanted a gun for Christmas without fear of the police, when you could spend weeks drinking something you don’t even like just for the free toy which never stood up to your expectations (for me this was breakfast cereal, the promise of the free toy was better than the toy itself).
A Christmas Story is really a tale of innocence and growing up, of learning to be a man but still being a child, it serves to remind us that the magic of Christmas isn’t in the adventure we have or the gifts we get, but in the family we share this time with.
And that’s really the film in a nutshell, the sub plots really serve to underline the themes of growing up with Ralphie taking his first steps towards adulthood.
Though I do love this film, there’s a couple of aspects that are less than stellar, it’s apparently based on a true story but as always you never know if this merely goes as far as “I had a childhood…” and everything else was made up (I detest how vague this term actually is), and the version of the past we see is rather idealised, cut straight out of a “When I was young, everything was so much better” ramble by your grandfather, but then ultimately that is what the film needs.
It’s not really a complicated reasoning, but this is a firm festive favourite and I plan to be watching it come Christmas Eve, you’re all welcome to join me.