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The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

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Stealing Christmas Since 1955: The History of the Grinch

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Movies have always been a cornerstone of holiday festivities. Everyone has their favorite seasonal films they look forward to all year leading up to December. Classics like Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone, and countless others are queued up and played on repeat until New Year.  Films like these hold special places in people’s lives and traditions and have been providing Hollywood cheer for decades. 

While most of the films that we know and love are more modern, there is one lovable Christmas story that dates back to the 1950s and has been keeping its place on the holiday movie mantle for decades.  

The Grinch first appeared in 1955 before it was a popular film franchise. Initially appearing in Redbook Magazine as a 33-line Dr. Seuss poem, the Grinch devised the first plot against Whoville. The full book then came out in 1957 after the success of his first book The Cat in the Hat. How the Grinch Stole Christmas sold 7.5 million copies. 

Nine years later in 1966, the Grinch took on the silver screen. Directed by Chuck Jones and starring Boris Karloff, the animated film became an instant classic. 

This film was completely animated and narrated and stayed true to the original book storyline. Beginning with the Christmas-hating Grinch devising his plot to ruin the Who’s holiday festivities, and ending with his feelings being changed by the lovable Cindy Lou Who. Bringing the popular book to life and featuring the iconic song You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch by Thurl Ravenscroft, the original Grinch movie has solidified its place as a classic Christmas film. 

The original Grinch remained its top form of media until the year 2000 when a new edition took its place. 

Directed by Ron Howard, the live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas set a new tone for the Grinch franchise. This film goes beyond the basic Dr. Seuss poem plot. It adds more backstory for the characters and the town of Whoville’s Christmas festivities adding more to the story and making it a feature-length film. 

Starring actor and comedian Jim Carrey, the Grinch character also evolved with a new spin. In Carrey’s take, the Grinch is more cynical as well as more witty to match Carrey’s comedic acting ability. The Grinch in this version also is shown to have more character traits and emotion as he pursues his love interest, Martha May Who. 

The live-action aspect also contributed to making this film stand out in comparison to the previous version. The set, prosthetics, and Carrey’s full makeup transformation all helped shape the Whoville world beyond what was within the original book and animated special. 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas grossed $345.8 million at the box office and has become the most memorable version of this lovable holiday story. 

Last but not least, is the latest addition to the franchise. The Grinch, released in 2018 brought the story back to its animated roots while still editing and modernizing the original story. This version focuses more on the character of Cindy Lou Who, as she devises a plan to talk to Santa Claus to get him to help her struggling single mother. Her plan ends up clashing with the Grinches as he poses as Santa Claus in hopes of ruining Christmas.

In this adaptation, Benedict Cumberbatch who stars as the lead, also plays the character with kinder and more empathetic undertones than the two previous actors did in their performances. This added new levels to the Grinch plot as as the story grows over time. Featuring songs by Tyler the Creator, The Grinch was a fresh new take on the Christmas favorite. 

After 63 years of Grinch hijinks since the publication of the original poem, each version is unique and different from the last, acting as a new Christmas experience for each generation.

Whether it’s the classic original film, the high production value live action, or the modern animated feature, the story of the Grinch still makes our hearts grow 3 sizes year after year. 

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