Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas
Christian Movie Review
Kirk Cameron is back with another riveting documentary-style film. It’s called Saving Christmas, it hits theaters Friday, November 14, and it follows in the footsteps of Kirk Cameron’s other successful documentary-style films Monumental (a personal favorite) and Unstoppable.
This time he’s taking on Christmas — with, of course, that gentle-hearted, winsome conviction that he’s become known for — and saving it from the seasonal killjoys that emerge each year from Christendom to condemn Christmas trees and rebuke Santa.
Take special note of that last sentence. Notice I wrote “from Christendom.” That’s right, this documentary is not some scathing critique and wrathful expose of the atheists who sue Christians for putting up a plastic glowing Mary in their front yard. That’s what I was expecting, frankly. I was expecting a video version of Sarah Palin’s razor-sharp book Good Tiding and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas (a great book, by the way, in my opinion).
Saving Christmas, however, addresses many of the common complaints that well-meaning, zealous Christians make about Western culture’s Christmas customs; and the list is long — to name a few:
* Christmas trees
* Santa Clause
* Hot chocolate
* The increase in consumerism because people are buying gifts
* The alleged pagan connections to many of these customs
* The apparent blackout of anything related to Jesus in these “secular” Christmas celebrations
* Even the complaint that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25
Why “Saving Christmas” Works
In general, there are two qualities that make Kirk Cameron’s documentary-style films so appealing, riveting, and successful: 1) the jaw-dropping level of research that he conducts, and 2) the way he presents all of it in a compelling narrative/storyteller format.
And Saving Christmas is no exception. The movie is essentially a story about Kirk and his friend. It even has sort of a fictional, dramatized plot to it: his friend — who believes that the Western Christmas traditions are, well, of the devil — shows up to a Christmas dinner. At first the friend tries to be polite and tolerate what he believes is something akin to pagan worship. But soon he can’t take it anymore. He leaves the party and sits in his car in protest.
Kirk, the host of the party, notices this, and he goes to talk with his friend. They engage in a lively, often comical but very meaningful debate about Christmas. The film cuts back and forth between their conversation in the car and various dramatizations of Kirk’s explanations about the history and symbolism of our Christmas traditions. He defends everything from the Christmas tree, the ornaments hanging on the tree, to Santa Clause himself.
Skepticism Gives Way to Astonishment
At first, I was a little skeptical. I mean, how much information is there really about the history of all this stuff that has found its way into Western culture? I had heard the debate before, but I always got the impression that it was an educated guess on both sides, that no one on either side really had the full story behind all of these little customs.
Wow, was I wrong.
Kirk Cameron dives into this treasure trove of historical information that just shattered every preconception and prejudice that I had about all of the allegedly secular traditions of Christmas. At the end of the movie, I just kind of sat in stunned silence, staring at the screen.
The bottom-line? All of it, yes, all of it, from the Christmas tree to the giving of presents, has far more to do with Jesus than I ever would have imagined.
Christmas: A Visual Dissertation On the Redemptive Work of God
For example, Cameron’s run-down of the real story about the Christmas tree and the meaning of its symbols unfolded like a beautifully crafted exegesis about the Cross — all dramatized with artful, interesting film aesthetic. It’s astonishing to consider: the Christmas tree is basically a ten-foot-tall seminary dissertation wrapped in tinsel and candy canes, and Santa Clause is a walking, talking sermon about the power of Christ’s love. It really brings a new depth of joy and revelation to the season.
What makes the documentary really effective — at least in my book — is the warmhearted, likeable kindness that Kirk infuses into everything. He’s not attacking anybody or making any Christians feel bad. He’s just excited to share the fascinating information that he’s discovered. The film opens our eyes to see Jesus in places we never would have expected to find Him.
On top of all that, the documentary features top dollar film craft, the photography is gorgeous, and there’s even a healthy dose of comedy. If you’re looking for a memorable experience at the movie theater, something to get you excited and inspired for the coming Christmas season, you can’t go wrong with Saving Christmas.
I will never look at a Christmas tree — or hot chocolate — the same way again.
Nicely done, Kirk.
Saving Christmas comes out in theaters on Friday, November 14. You can check showtimes and purchase tickets here.