Reviewed by: Andrea McAteer
|Featuring:||Hans Matheson … David Richmond
Samantha Barks … Emily Barstow
Lesley Manville … Bea Haddington
Sylvester McCoy … Edward Haddington
James Cosmo … Herbert Hopewell
Susan Boyle … Eleanor Hopewell
Barbara Flynn … Lady Camdon
John Hannah … William Barstow
|Director:||John Stephenson—“The English Patient,” “Babe,” “Lost in Space”|
Big Book Media
“In a world illuminated by modern marvels, who needs the light of a simple candle.” The Christmas Candle is a film based on the short story written by Max Lucado. Every 25 years for the past 200 years, an angel has visited the candle makers in the English village of Gladbury. The angel blesses one candle and the Haddigan’s, the village candle makers, chose one needy person to give the candle to. They instruct the person to light the candle and pray, and each time the needs of the individual are met. It is a Christmas tradition that gives the hard working villagers hope and faith.
After the death of the village minister, David Richmond (Hans Matheson) arrives to take on the position. When told of the tradition of the Christmas candle, and that this is the year the angel will visit, the minister expresses his doubt. The people expect the Advent sermons to relate to the candle, but the new minister refuses to speak on it. At one point, he takes all the prayer requests and preaches that if “Your neighbor needs a miracle, be that miracle,” and he seeks to answer the prayers on his own, while encouraging everyone to help their neighbor.
This seems a great idea, in that everyone comes together to bless each other, but, unfortunately, it comes from the Reverend’s lack of faith. He himself admits he does not believe in miracles. He is a Godly man, and he preaches good sermons, but they come from knowledge of what faith and belief are, not from a place where one believes it in their heart.
When the angel arrives at the home of Edward and Bea Haddington (Sylvester McCoy and Lesley Manvill), Mr. Haddington stumbles and knocks down all the candles. He and his wife do not know which candle has been blessed—which one is the Christmas Candle? So many friends have come to them in need, humbling themselves to ask if they might be the one to receive the candle that year and the answer to their prayers. To make matters worse, the Haddington’s son does not wish to return to Gladbury, and there is no one to carry on the tradition of candle making. The Haddington’s contemplate keeping the candle for themselves.
How can the Haddington’s help their neighbors when they don’t know which candle is blessed? How do they deal with their own desire to keep and burn the Christmas Candle to have their prayers answered? Will the Reverend continue to rely on his own strength or come to terms with his own hardships that have overshadowed his faith?
While the Reverend has good intentions when he calls his parishioners to service to help one another, he inadvertently seeks to diminish the faith everyone has in the candle, which is symbolic of faith in God. The Reverend reads John 1:1-5,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
This has always been a passage that sounds confusing, speaking in riddles, metaphorically, yet as the Reverend beautifully reads it, it becomes clear and quite fitting for this movie. The candle symbolizes the light of men, who is Jesus. Other passages in Scripture also refer to God as the light.
I read the book before the film came out, so I knew the story and was pleased it was made into a film. The only possible objection one could have would be a child born out of wedlock. Given the context of the story, that child brings love and hope and is a small part of the movie. There is nothing inappropriate shown or mentioned in relation to that. During certain scenes, I had goose bumps on my arms and tears in my eyes. There is a tender moment when a man gave thanks to God for his cat. God is God of the simple things, and no prayer is too small. It is an endearing moment.
“The Christmas Candle” is a lovely film. The setting is quaint and realistic, and the acting is well done. There are a number of well-known actors in this film, and the singing talents of Susan Boyle in her acting debut. I think this film is a new Christmas classic, one to be viewed each year as a family. It is a wonderful period film, showing hope, faith and new beginnings. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend this film. “For only in Christ do we find the hope, joy and love we have come to know this Christmas season” —Reverend Richmond, The Christmas Candle.
Violence: None / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
Official site: thechristmascandlemovie.com
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.