The Victoria Era had a major influence on the way we celebrate and remember Christmas. Film was still in its infancy at the time, and it’s fascinating to see the ways the holiday was captured in early motion pictures.

Santa Claus (1898)

directed by George Albert Smith

Santa Claus may be the first Christmas movie ever made. Directed by British film pioneer George Albert Smith, it used the double-exposure technique he was experimenting with.

Santa Claus may also be the first film to use editing to show that two different actions in two different scenes are happening at the same time.

The Christmas Dream (1900)

directed by Georges Méliès

The 19th Century master showed off his skills with this early classic. Georges Méliès had a flair for the fantastic and brought it to this look at an upper-class French family’s Christmas celebrations at the turn of the century. The family eagerly awaits the coming of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and attends church Christmas morning.

The Night Before Christmas (1905)

directed by Edwin S. Porter

This 1905 vintage Christmas classic was created for Thomas Edison’s studio by Edwin S. Porter. It’s believed to be the world’s first film adaptation of the classic poem by Clement C. Moore.

Coming in at more than 8 minutes long, it shows how the Edison Manufacturing Company had moved from brief “actualities” and dancing demonstrations to longer narratives.

The Insects' Christmas (1913)

directed by Ladislas Starevich

The Insects’ Christmas is the most unique holiday movie you’ll ever see.

Polish filmmaker Ladislas Starevich used puppets, dead insects, and a frog cadaver to create this stop-motion silent Christmas classic. He used similar techniques during his long career in film.

Adam Call Roberts

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