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The Night Before Christmas (1905) [HD] First Silent Film

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Published on Jan 4, 2012

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The Night Before Christmas (1905) [HD]
First silent film adaptation of Clement Clarke Moore poem.

"The Night Before Christmas" is a 1905 American silent short film directed by Edwin S. Porter for the Thomas A. Edison Manufacturing Company. It closely follows Clement Clarke Moore's 1823 poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas", and was the first film production of the poem.

It's December 24th, and 'Santa Claus' is busy feeding his reindeer and finishing up the toys that he will soon deliver. Meanwhile, the children in a large family hang their stockings over the fireplace, and then are put to bed. But the restless children cannot sleep, and they soon start a lively pillow fight. Back at his workshop, Santa loads up everything and begins his journey. Scenes are introduced using lines of the poem. Santa Claus is shown feeding real reindeer and finishes his work in the workshop. Meanwhile, the children of a city household hang their stockings and go to bed, but unable to sleep they engage in a pillow fight. Santa Claus leaves his home on a sleigh with his reindeer. He enters the children's house through the chimney, and leaves the presents. The children come down the stairs and enjoy their presents.

Directed by Edwin S. Porter
Based on the poem written by Clement Clarke Moore
Cinematography by Edwin S. Porter
Distributed by Edison Manufacturing Company
1,670 feet of film was shot, with 798 feet used. A panoramic shot of Santa Claus riding his sleigh over hills and the moon was shot using miniatures and a painted backdrop.

1905 version by the Thomas Edison studios of the poem first published anonymously in 1823 and generally attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, although the claim has also been made that it was written by Henry Livingston, Jr.

A VISIT FROM SAINT NICHOLAS
by Clement Clarke Moore
(or Henry Livingston)

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

The poem is largely responsible for the conception of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today, including his physical appearance, the night of his visit, his mode of transportation, the number and names of his reindeer, and the tradition that he brings toys to children.

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