Now that the eating holiday is over (and Hanukkuh is halfway through) and folks have begun narrowly escaping retail stores with their lives and money, it’s officially time for the hypest countdown of the year: the 25 days until Christmas Day (or 26 days to Boxing Day if you’re so inclined). To celebrate, I’m going to write about a holiday movie a day for 25 days as part of Flixist’s December special: Nick’s Flixmas!
To start things off, I figured the best film for the job is the quintessential Christmas film CBS decides to show earlier and earlier each year. In fact, CBS decided to re-air the 1964 special, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, before Thanksgiving (meaning I totally saw this instead of the Dancing With the Stars finale airing the same night) catapulting us into the holiday season far earlier than ever. Then again, the way things have been going this year, the holiday spirit couldn’t come soon enough.
[Nick’s Flixmas is a 25 day celebration of films Nick watches every Christmas! Nick will do some analysis, review, and just generally walk down memory lane. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the ride. Merry Flixmas!]
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is the first Christmas film I’ve ever liked. The eight year old me had seen plenty of them before, but they were budget titles my mom would find at the local grocery (which sadly doesn’t exist anymore). You see, my family really couldn’t afford too much of fancy stuff like that. We had a VCR, but it’s only because my dad managed to save a few bucks over several months to get it. It was an awesome RCA that we ran constantly because we didn’t have cable. It was just more preferable to watch The Lion King for the 15th time than sit through fuzzy daytime television.
Around that time too, my father was finally recovering from lymphoma. In 1995, he was diagnosed with it and it practically ruined him for two years. He had to quit his job, my mom had to work multiple shifts, and we ate plenty of potatoes and eggs. It was pretty rough. Thankfully, my mother did her best to bring levity to the weight of our lives as much as she could. It hurt her like crazy that she couldn’t provide for us, so one Christmas she just kept buying videotapes of Christmas specials. They were pretty terrible collections of one off TV shows and black and white serials that I don’t remember even seeing. They’re in my mom’s house still, but I don’t remember watching them at all. But then one day her AVON shilling friend sold her an unforgettable Rankin/Bass trio. The first of which was Rudolph.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer really did have a shiny nose. And when I saw it, I would even say it glowed. Point is, I was instantly drawn to Rudolph for reasons I still don’t really understand. Was it the messages of self-acceptance and not really giving a sh*t what others thought? Was it all of the hot Bill Ives action? Whatever happened, I was instantly grabbed by the film’s style (Laika’s the only company that’s come close to topping Rankin and Bass’ stop motion puppetry) and the music. It’s the film which finally put a face to that “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” carol I was forced to sing in 3rd grade choir.
I re-watch the film every year (as well as its sequel, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year) because every time I watch it, or even think about it, I remember that first time I popped it into my VCR. It was the first movie that made me believe everything was going to be okay, or even be happy that Christmas was coming. It just reminds me of my mother’s warmth. Her drive to keep us going and wonderfully naive to the harsh realities we’d face a short few years later. It’s just a warm and happy blanket…without the hilariously overt Christian overtones of the other Rankin/Bass specials.
My favorite scene from the film is the “Silver and Gold” song segment. It’s the song I play when I decorate the Christmas tree every year. It’s blasted at full volume without paying neighbors any mind. My favorite character? Herbie. That lovable little guy wanted to be a dentist and that’s fabulous considering a major part of Christmas celebration is ruining your teeth. Oh and the Abominable Snowman! It’s so fluffy and adorable…and…and that’s all I have to say about that.
Short, but sweet right? Future installments of Nick’s Flixmas will likely go into more detail the more I want to discuss them, but it’s the end for now. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer may be the Christmas film, but it is admittedly the blandest. I also have a few more memories that I want to share, but they really correspond with the other films in the line up!
Stay tuned tomorrow for Day Two of Nick’s Flixmas when I dive into Frosty the Snowman!