Contemporary Or Classic? Miracle On 34th Street (1994)

When you hear Miracle on 34th Street, what do you think of? The remake or the original? Following on from my last piece about the 1947 version, I would like to share my review of one of my favourite Christmas films of all time; the 1994 version of Miracle on 34th Street.

If you not seen either version of Miracle of 34th Street, the plot in both films is very similar; the story follows young Susan Walker, played by Mara Wilson, who lives with her mother Dorey, played by Elizabeth Perkins, in New York. Susan’s mother has never been one for fairytales or imagination, so Susan does not believe in Santa Claus. However, after a meeting with a special department store Santa called Kris Kringle, played by Richard Attenborough, who also plays Santa at a thanksgiving parade organised by Dorey, Susan begins to wonder if Santa does actually exist? When Kris gets into trouble with the law, it is up to Susan, Dorey and their neighbour Bryan, who admires Dorey, to help Kris out.

This version slightly differs from the original, in that it has more of a religious subtext, but the characters and the majority of the plot remains the same. The store name of Macy’s is changed to Cole’s for this version, as Macy’s did not give permission for their name to be used in the film. This version is written and produced by the 1980s teen comedy legend that is John Hughes, and 20th Century Fox were noted for offering a full refund to viewers who didn’t enjoy the film when it was originally released.

Like the original film, the cast in this version are excellent. Mara Wilson is especially wonderful as the young Susan Walker, as Natalie Wood was in the original. Wilson has now left acting to pursue a career as a writer, but there is no denying her brilliant acting ability as a child. After a fourteen year stint of directing instead of acting, Richard Attenborough returned to acting for Jurassic Park in 1993, and completed this film shortly after. For me, Attenborough makes the film as the loveable department store Santa Claus with a grandfatherly touch, and I now can’t imagine anyone else playing this role instead of him.

Of course, there is a bit of cheesiness in the film, as there is in many Christmas films! But it cannot be denied that the heart-warming message that a film such as this produces isn’t always a bad thing, especially when you can watch Miracle on 34th Street with your family over the Christmas period and enjoy it together.

Whether you have seen the original or not, I highly recommend this version, after the 1947 original of course! You won’t regret seeking either out.

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About writingsuzanne

History graduate. Freelance writer and reviewer. Passionate about film, theatre and music (film soundtracks!).
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