The Twelve Flicks of Christmas

A New ben’s TEN Series

Get the Scoop You Won’t Find Anywhere Else on 12 Christmas Movies Old and New
[See complete list of reviews]

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Directed by Chuck Jones
Not Rated
Starring: Boris Karlof

Review by Ben Koch

Conventional Synopsis:
The cranky, self-interested, hairy green man-thing who lives in the mountains above harmonious Whoville is angry, bitter and completely fed up with the Who’s (inhabitants of Whoville) oh-so-happy Christmas celebrations year after year. This time, he’s decided to do something about it. With his unexpectedly cute dog Max as an accomplice, he contrives the ultimate evil plan–pose as Santa and steal Christmas.

Beneath the Surface
The story of the Grinch has now become as ingrained into our cultural psyche as A Christmas Carol, and like Scrooge, the Grinch himself represents one of the very first stories of transformation we encounter as “American kids” (right up there with Cinderella). Anyone who doubts whether Dr. Seuss wasn’t operating at deep levels of politics, sociology and psychology hasn’t read much Dr. Seuss. We could definitely hash through the social commentary here regarding the commercialization of Christmas and how, by peeling away the external “trappings” of the season, the Grinch discovers the true spirit and essence of the holiday.

That’s true enough, but since this is ben’s TEN we are going to get a little esoteric and take a different approach. My favorite scene from this movie, for as long as I can remember (and it’s a strange one for a kid to be mesmerized with), is when the Grinch’s heart grows “three sizes” and breaks the animated box that encloses it. At this point in the story, he has had his awakening up on Mount Crumpit, triggered by the joyful voices of the Who’s who sing, hand-in-hand, despite their now materially impoverished Christmas (the Grinch has snatched up every last crumb, present and ornament).

This is not an intellectual understanding he comes to, however. Instead, the Grinch experiences a visceral, intuitive and spiritual realization that erupts out through his heart chakra. Many eastern traditions have mapped out the chakras as seven energy centers aligned vertically along the body which plug our physical and subtle energies into the flow and energy of the universe. “Opening” a chakra means awakening to the particular truths, vibrations and gifts that chakra represents. In the case of the heart chakra, these truths are balance, love, compassion, healing and unity–precisely the intangible qualities the Grinch now seems to embody.

With the energy and understanding that come with this mini-enlightenment he must complete his transformation by becoming the epitome of the spirit he once despised: Santa Clause. He does so with great exuberance, and the “strength of 10 Grinches” in fact, racing back down the mountain toward Whoville in his sleigh loaded high with presents, donning his red coat and hat, and accompanied by his “reindeer” (remember cute little Max?).

So what began as a mockery of the spirit of Christmas was metamorphosed in an instant by a simple, humble display of love and unity–the Whos carrying on in gratitude and joy without food, presents, trees, etc (all the things the Grinch thought WERE Christmas). We all have Grinches yet to transform. The cold caves and mountain hermitages where we hide and broil aren’t “10,000 feet up Mount Crumpit,” though, they are in our own hearts and minds. How the Grinch Stole Christmas reminds us just how precarious the life of a Grinch can be; with nowhere to hide, your heart could burst at any moment.


Cocoa Factor = 9 out of 10
How good is this one for cozying up with a fire burning, a hot beverage of your choice, and your new Snuggy?

Magicality = 9 out of 10
How well does this one transport you back to the timeless wonderment beyond rationality when Christmas enveloped you in magic? AKA “The Santa Clause factor.”

A Date with Grandma and Aunt Bernice = 10 out of 10
How appropriate/awkward is this one to watch with relatives of all ages? Will hot kissing scenes or male rear nudity spoil the mood?

Tiny Tim’s Big Truths = 10 out of 10
From the mouths of babes come life’s most profound lessons. At the heart of this flick, how authentic, heartfelt and lasting is the message? Does it transcend Xmas clichés and ring bells?

Overall = 10 out of 10


About bensten

Teacher, writer, blogger and spiritual practitioner. Managing editor of

One response »

  1. […] we emphasized last year, the biggest moment of this narrative is the opening of the Grinch’s heart chakra. For this […]

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