Holiday Animation

Silent Night, Holy Night

Produced By: Hanna-Barbera Productions

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            I was searching for animated Christmas specials that I had never seen before when I came across Silent Night, Holy Night.  This Hanna-Barbera production aired in 1976 and I don't know how I could have missed it.  Set in Austria in the early 1800s, the cartoon tells the tale of how the Christmas carol came into existence.  I decided to check it our for our loyal readers. 

            The story begins with a discussion between the burgermeister and the local pastor regarding what it is that brings people to the little town of Oberndorf.  It's an age old discussion referring to the commercialization of Christmas.  Meanwhile, the church choir and its organist have begun practicing songs for the Christmas Eve mass.  Unfortunately, the church organ is old and in desperate need of repair.  The organist is sent to Salzburg for a part for the organ.  He takes his young sons with him.

            Unfortunately, it is at the very moment when they are returning victorious from Salzburg with the organ part that an avalanche, brought on by a treacherous snowstorm, prevents the trio from heading down the mountain with their horse and carriage.  As they attempt the descent via skis, they realize that the road has been wiped out.  There is nothing for it but to descend the mountain via rope.  Unfortunately, they lose the organ part along the way.  What will the town do without an organ to accompany the choir during Christmas Eve mass?  Only a miracle can help them.  Fortunately, the pastor and his organist believe whole-heartedly in the existence of miracles.

            Now, from a historical point of view, Silent Night, Holy Night may not be the most accurate of stories.  But as an animated feature suitable for young children, this 30-minute animated Christmas special fits the bill, teaching children how important it is to have faith and never give up.  It also teaches them that money and expensive things do not make a beautiful Christmas.  In the cartoon, Silent Night is a gift from the pastor and his organist to the congregation - a sweeter gift no one could have asked for as it came from the heart.  Those are the type of gifts that mean the most (once again a commentary against the commercialism of Christmas arises). 

            Having seen this special for the first time, I am quite happy that I took the time to watch Silent Night, Holy Night and recommend it highly to the parents of young children looking for a sweet, kinder sort of animated special for their kids to watch.


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