Picks and Pans Review: The Snowman

updated 12/21/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/21/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

Raymond Briggs, who adapted this half-hour tape from his own story, is England's version of Shel Silverstein: a curmudgeonly artist-writer who is either a children's book author dabbling in cynical humor for adults or a cynical humorist dabbling in children's books. This tale, which was nominated for an animated short films Oscar in 1982, is a variation on Frosty the Snowman, with the giddy frivolity taken out, and also all the dialogue—there's only music on the sound track. The artwork, which looks like chalk pastels, reflects much more shading and variety of color than most animated films. It's delicacy also suits the story, in which a boy's snowman comes alive and eventually takes him on a flying trip to what seems to be a snowman convention. There's an abstract quality to the music by Howard Blake, but it helps maintain the mood of quiet discovery. Like all snowman tales, this one is inevitably a parable of life and death, so the meltdown climax has its poignant moments. But as a change of pace from the hall-decking jollity of most children's Christmas entertainment, this story offers a graceful alternative. (Sony, $14.95) —R.N. (T.N.: "I liked it. My favorite part was when the man saw the flying snowman and looked at his bottle to see what he was drinking.")

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