Film I love/Film I hate deconstruction – Love Actually opening scene

A Christmas Prince 0:00- 2:00 minutes available on Netflix

As the Holiday season approaches, I have been getting into the spirit, quite early, by watching my favorite Holiday and Christmas movies. One interesting thing about Christmas movies is the sheer number of movies that networks that Hallmark and Netflix release each year. Netflix has been known to release multiple Christmas movies each year, which are all notoriously known as bad movies. The same goes for the Hallmark Network, who has developed such a strong reputation for their Christmas that there is an understanding of a basic “Hallmark quality” holiday movie. For this assignment, I chose to compare a holiday movie that is known for being a modern Christmas classic, Love Actually, with one of Netflix’s many holiday movies. For this assignment, I chose to compare Love Actually with Netflix’s A Christmas Prince, as A Christmas Prince was extremely popular when it came out, mostly for how bad it was. I chose to compare the opening scenes of the movies, because they really set the scene and tone for the rest of the movie.
Love Actually begins with an iconic scene at Heathrow Airport. The movie starts with quiet music fading into the background and a slow monologue spoken by Colin Firth. The camera shoots various couples and families at the arrivals gate of the airports greeting each other after long flights, as Firth talks in the background about how love is so apparent at airports. The scene feels very personal and not overwhelming and sets the tone for a very comforting movie.
The beginning of “A Christmas Prince,” on the other hand, starts directly with loud, cheesy Christmas music, and cliché shots of Christmas scenes throughout New York. It is apparent from the first second that it is very clearly a Christmas movie, as it begins with shots of Rockefeller Center and the Christmas Tree, the lights in Central Park, and other cliché New York City Christmas scenes. The music is also overly cheery, and resembles a classic Christmas song, but is very clearly a remake. From the beginning, it is very clear, and even overwhelming, that the movie is about Christmas. Also, the first scene of the movie goes onto an awkward dialogue between the main character and her coworker. The dialogue is very unrealistic, and again feels forced and overwhelming. It is made very clear from the beginning that the movie is about the main character struggling about being respected at her job as a journalist during the Christmas season, but the director and writer left very little to insinuate and made it very obvious and apparent. From the beginning, it feels forced and it is clear that the acting itself is not as natural as it is in most, better produced, films.
As for the shot composition, in Love Actually, the director uses close-up shots that involve many people in the foreground and background, as it is shot at the airport, that makes the scene feels very personal, realistic, and relatable. As for A Christmas Prince, it begins with very cliché shots of New York landmarks that do not involve any personal touch or shot variation, which makes it not stand out among different Christmas movies. The sequence of the camera shots in A Christmas Prince are also quite abrupt, as it goes right from a bunch of cheesy Christmas shots to a main character in a stereotypical but not realistic office. I think the main thing that makes the opening of Love Actually much more effective than the opening of A Christmas Prince is that the opening of Love Actually feels much more personal and relatable. The opening of A Christmas Prince feels very over-produced and commercial, and like something that you have seen a hundred times. It also feels very forced and not natural, where the opening of A Christmas Prince feels like they are filming real people and makes you connect to the story right away. I think Christmas movies especially are made to make the audience feel connected and comforted, and while Love Actually uses film techniques to their advantage in making this happen, it feels as though A Christmas Prince used techniques in all the wrong ways.