Santa Claus: The Movie
Santa Claus has been around for a long. This red suited man spends more time then anyone, crafting wonderful toys for children as he makes the delivery in one night. Many people know him, but how much of his origin do we know? Best resource is looking back at the true-life story of Saint Nicholas. Born in 270 A.D., Nicholas was born to a wealthy family who were religious. When they died, he was raised by his uncle who was a bishop. Nicholas grew up religious and decided to not only become a bishop, but spread his wealth to help the poor. His most famous situation was when a farmer had three daughters, but no money to support them. Nicholas snuck into their homes and slipped golden coins into their stockings. Thus, a legend was born.
I’m surprised that Hollywood has yet to tell the true story of Saint Nicholas. There is lot’s of potential to tell an amazing historical story. In 1985, another movie was created in an attempt to explain the Santa Claus origin. Santa Claus: The Movie doesn’t go into the Saint Nicholas story, but instead attempts to start from scratch with it’s own magical version. The result is a bizarre film that needs to be seen to be believed.
Rather then going back to true time, we start somewhere in the fourteenth century. Santa (played by David Huddleston) is a humble woodcarver who spends every Christmas night with his wife Anya (played by Judy Cornwell) giving his figures to children in the far northern villages. One Christmas Eve becomes colder then the air, as Santa has trouble leading his two reindeer, Donner and Blitzen, through the snow. When it seems like they will freeze to death, he wakes up to find a vast scape of Ice Mountains on top of the world, and a group of elves that have been waiting for him.
The elves take him inside a giant workshop and tell him that the toys are for his children, “all over the world”. One of the elves, Patch (played by Dudley Moore) tells him about his future job of delivering the toys around the world in one night and how time travels with him, making Christmas Eve last until he is finished. Throughout the ages, Santa continues his one night job while adapting to the new world. The story stops in the nineteen-eighties where Santa must deal with an evil toy manufacturer simply known as B.Z. (played by John Lithgow) who is bent on taking the holiday from the jolly red man.
Santa Claus: The Movie is growing among the cult audience, and I can see why. This is a very strange Christmas movie that takes some weird directions with the story. The origin of Santa only makes a third of the movie while the rest takes a backseat to a story about toy companies and the questioning of one’s place in the modern world. The story cannot keep a clear focus, nor does it give Santa a goal for this movie.
But speaking of Santa, David Huddleston makes for a good Santa. Though not as good as the Santa in Ernest Saves Christmas, he makes a jolly man who has the inspiration of a giving child, but is willing to take the responsibilities of a true man. Plus Dudley Moore and John Lithgow give some over-the-top, but enjoyable performances. Though I can’t quite say that this movie works, it does have a classic fantasy tone and does keep to it.
I’ll give it two and a half ice mountains out of five. I would have rather have had the origin story stay the sole story. It’s the nineteen-eighties where thing go weird. It feels like a fantasy movie that is often stuck in the forties. But if you’re really looking for something different for a holiday midnight movie, then this is it.