Narration that packs more punch than the office Christmas party.
Our favourite Christmas films are full of narration to guide us through yuletide stories. Some of these narrators make brief appearances, and some guide the whole journey – whether in movies or in a children's book. They are all unique and memorable; Christmas wouldn't be the same without them. So we are taking some time to appreciate our choices for the top 7 Christmas narrations of all time.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) – Boris Karloff
“They’re hanging their stockings, he snarled with a sneer, tomorrow is Christmas, it's practically here.”
Boris Karloff (born William Henry Pratt) voiced the Grinch and served as the film's narrator in the animated television special How the Grinch Stole Christmas only three years before he died in 1969. Known for his starring role as Frankenstein's Monster in Frankenstein (1931) and the sequels, he soon became a horror icon.
Based on the Dr Seuss book of the same name, Chuck Jones directed and produced this television special. Jones would later win an honorary Academy Award for “Lifetime Achievement” in 1995 for his creation of classic cartoons. If you haven't read the book or seen any of the adaptions, the film is about a fluffy green creature called the Grinch who tries to steal Christmas from Whoville. Why does the Grinch hate Christmas? Well, “His heart was two sizes too small, with this reason being the most likely of all”.
After being commercially released, this performance earned Karloff a Grammy award for “Best Recording for Children”. His Voice is striking due to his rhyming eloquence as the narrator and villainy as the Grinch himself. This film will forever go down as a Christmas classic.
A Christmas Story (1983) – Jean Shephard
“Oh no, it was the classic mother BB gun block: You’ll shoot your eye out!”
Jean Parker Shephard Jr. was an American storyteller known for his radio & television hosting, scriptwriting, acting, and various other creative endeavours. After serving in World War II, Shephard began his radio career, entertaining his fans by reading stories and poetry in the overnight slot. He has nine film narration credits to his name.
A Christmas Story is an American comedy film directed by Bob Clark and co-written by Shephard. The film is loosely based on Shephard's life and stories, including 2 of his books: In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories And Other Disasters. The plot follows Ralphie, a 9-year-old boy who's desperately trying to persuade his parents to buy him a BB gun for Christmas. They keep saying no, but Ralphie wakes up to find the “holy grail of Christmas gifts” waiting for him on Christmas day. Shephard narrates an older version of Ralphie, looking back on this Christmas.
Shephard's voice in this performance is particularly goofy. As an adult version of Ralphie, he speaks with the same childish enthusiasm for Christmas as the child version of Ralphie does. Shephard's voice is often infused with a wild and energetic vitality, and it's that trait that makes his narration in this film so entertaining and memorable.
The Muppet Christmas Carol – (1992) – Gonzo (Dave Goelz) & Rizzo (Steve Whitmire)
“A blue furry Charles Dickens who hangs out with a rat?”
David Charles Goelz is an American puppet builder, puppeteer, and voice actor. Most known for voicing Gonzo in the Muppets, he is also known for his work on The Dark Crystal, Fraggle Rock and Labyrinth. Goelz's Puppeteering career took off in 1973 when he met Jim Henson, who hired him as a part-time puppet builder for the pilot: The Muppets Valentine Show. He later started to work full time for Henson, creating beloved characters such as Brewster, Nigel, Animal, Floyd Pepper and Zoot.
Steve Lawrence Whitmire is also an American puppeteer who got his big break on The Muppet Show in 1978, where he has voiced favourites such as Rizzo and Kermit and Ernie after Jim Henson's death. Whitmire has also appeared in other Henson franchises such as Sesame Street, The Dark Crystal, and Dinosaurs.
The Muppet's version of A Christmas Carol is beloved. Even people who aren't fans of the Muppets often love this Jim Henson spin on a Dickens classic. It features Michael Caine as the miserable Ebenezer Scrooge, who must learn the error of his stingy, self-serving ways through visits from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. The Muppets take on classic Dickens Characters, such as Kermit as Bob Cratchit, Waldorf as Robert Marley, and Robin the Frog as Tiny Tim.
The narration in The Muppet's Christmas Carol is presented by Gonzo the Great and Rizzo the Rat. Throughout the film, the two work together as a light-hearted comedy duo, with Gonzo playing Charles Dickens himself. Goelz's Voice as Gonzo and Whitmire's Voice as Rizzo are both grizzly and deep, which fits with the 19th century London being depicted in the story: cold and impoverished.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) – Anthony Hopkins
“Inside a snowflake, like the one on your sleeve, there happened a story you must see to believe.”
That's right, another Grinch adaption. As surprising as it may be, the narrator in How the Grinch stole Christmas (2000) was none other than Sir Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins is best known for his role as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs (1991), for which he won an Academy Award and many other parts in his long and successful career.
This version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is most likely the go-to version of the Grinch for most people. Starring the ever-eccentric Jim Carrey as the Eponymous Grinch, this live-action adaption goes deeper into the Grinch's history and childhood, explaining why the Grinch hated Christmas in the first place—also starring talents such as Christine Baranski and Jeffery Tambor.
Much like Boris Karloff, Anthony Hopkins has a somewhat villainous voice. This is a must-have when it comes to Grinch narration. However, in this role, he goes for a much warmer, gentler, and more sophisticated performance to perfectly contrast with the manic Jim Carrey.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – Edward Ivory
“Release me now or you’ll have to face the dire consequences. The children are expecting me so please come to your senses.”
Edward Ivory doesn't have a long list of credits, with this Tim Burton classic being his most remarkable. He has also appeared in Rampage (1987) and Police Quest: Open season (1993), with his later career being more focused on voice acting.
The Nightmare Before Christmas was based on a short poem written by producer Tim Burton. The film is a stop-motion dark fantasy musical featuring a soundtrack from the incredible 4-time Oscar Nominee Danny Elfman. The plot follows Jack, the Pumpkin King of Halloween town, who becomes tired of being a Halloween figure and decides to become the new Santa Claus.
Ivory voices Santa Claus in The Nightmare Before Christmas and narrates the film's opening in character. As Santa (AKA, Sandy Claws), Ivory's Voice is baritone and powerful. His opening lines are a poetic prologue to the film where he sets us up to discover where the various holidays came from. Although Patrick Stewart replaced his prologue in the soundtrack, ivory's original version as Santa provides the nostalgia as soon as we turn the film on each year. This performance has earned its place as one of the top Christmas narrations.
The Christmas Carol (1949) – Vincent Price
“Waking in the middle of a prodigiously tough snore…”
Vincent Leonard Price Jr. has appeared on stage, on television, and on the radio, but he is best known for his performances in horror films. With multiple horror classics under his belt, such as The House of Wax (1953) and The Fly (1958), Price is no stranger to playing the villain. He has two stars on the Hollywood walk of fame, one for his work in film and one for his work in television.
This adaption of A Christmas Carol was a black and white budget TV special with only a 30-minute duration. This might not sound very exciting, and sure, there aren't many bells and whistles, but Vincent Price's voice is why this adaption is so special.
Price's voice as a legendary horror actor is deep and eloquent but evil. His narration gives the film a much darker tone than some other versions of the Dickens' classic. Price's sophisticated narration makes this film, and it's worth a watch to see the Master of Macabre. His work here is undoubtedly one of the top Christmas narrations; however, don't expect to have a jolly time full of Christmas cheer.
Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas (1999) – Kelsey Grammar
“We love Christmas so much, we want it to stay, but what if we wished it was here every day.”
Six-time Emmy Award winner Kelsey Grammar narrates the opening and the linking segments between each short story in Mickey's once upon a Christmas. Grammar is most known for his television roles in Cheers (1982) and Frasier (1993); however, he also has many voice acting credits such as Prospector in Toy Story 2 (1999) and Vladimir in Anastasia (1997).
The film comprises three shorts: Donald Duck: Stuck on Christmas, A Very Goofy Christmas and Mickey and Minnie's Gift of the Magi. Other Disney favourites like Pluto, Max, and Scrooge McDuck also tag along for the ride. They teach the typical Christmassy lessons of It's the thought that counts, happiness is the best gift, and Christmas is about being with family.
Kelsey Grammar narrates various segments of this film, including the intro and the transitions between each story. Via rhyme, Grammar guides us through these Christmas festivities with his soft voice and relaxed pace.
These examples are some of the best Christmas narrations; however, there are many more to enjoy during the festive season. Take note of these narrators when creating your own Christmas narration.
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