The holiday sequence of animated Charlie Brown films spans Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. However, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown differs as it contains one storyline secret, which turned this animated movie into a timeless classic. What is the one universal theme that runs through the film?
The storyline secret of ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ centers on one universal message
The storyline of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown appears basic enough. A child believes that a fictional character called The Great Pumpkin appears out of the pumpkin patch and delivers toys to children.
Linus Van Pelt is the central character in the story. He believes that The Great Pumpkin is similar to Santa Claus.
Hopefully, Linus sits in his neighborhood pumpkin patch, forgoing trick or treating with his friends and waiting for The Great Pumpkin to appear. Linus’ friends poke fun at him, and only one stays back, Sally Brown.
As the night progresses, Linus falls asleep in the patch with The Great Pumpkin, nowhere to be found. He is brought home by his older sister, Lucy Van Pelt, and put in bed.
However, the one storyline secret of The Great Pumpkin is central to the story. And it’s not about the appearance of a fictional character.
Linus’ deep belief in the existence of The Great Pumpkin centers on one universal message: his unwavering faith in the impossible. “People hold on to that value,” Karen Johnson, Director for the Charles M. Schulz Museum, said to SF Gate.
“From a philosophical and emotional point of view, people attach to that and the whole sweetness of it. That’s about friendship and loyalty to each other and believing in something bigger than yourself. Those are the universal appeals of it.”
Jean Schulz, Charles Schulz’s wife, said her husband believed the idea of a small child mixing up all the fall and winter holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, was amusing. It was this premise that generated the core idea for It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
She told SF Gate it started with “Sparky [her husband’s nickname] with his kid thinking going on.” However, the basic story of unwavering hope in the face of adversity became central to the story.
“He always felt badly at Christmastime how a lot of little kids don’t get anything or are expecting or hoping for more, and he was kind of showing that you don’t always get what you want or you dream about, but you endure,” revealed Schulz’s professional partner Lee Mendelson, in the same interview.
To The Washington Post, Lee Mendelson revealed the success of A Charlie Brown Christmas led to the conception of the now-iconic Halloween animated special. “CBS called and said: ‘We need another holiday blockbuster,’ ” Mendelson admits. “It was prompted by the network because they wanted another holiday hit.”
“So we sat down, and Sparky said: ‘We’ve got to go with the most obvious holiday — and it’s not Thanksgiving. Why don’t we do the Great Pumpkin?’” Mendelson revealed.
The animated special made its debut on Oct. 27, 1966. Roughly half the nation watched the series the night it first aired, reported The Washington Post, and it would be nominated for three Emmy awards in 1967.
It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown not only centered on Linus’ belief in the fictional Halloween character. His hapless friend Charlie Brown hopes for candy during trick or treating and receives rocks instead. And his beloved dog, Snoopy, defeats The Red Baron in a five-minute flying sequence in his doghouse without uttering one word.
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