Day five of Nick’s Flixmas brings us to the first Rankin/Bass animated Christmas special, The Little Drummer Boy. As the company’s first, Drummer Boy gets away with a lot of things later films in their collection do not. It’s the darkest and most religious (completely revolving around the birth of Jesus Christ) story in their line up. It’s also one of the most powerful.
Something about its grainy quality, lack of materialism, and blunt religiousness helps keep the films alive after all of these years.
[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!]
The Little Drummer Boy is set within the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. An orphan boy is hateful of humanity around him as they naively laugh and play while the world has left him high and dry. Left only with the drum his parents left behind, the boy makes friends with three dancing animals, and one man tries to take advantage of his hatred for humanity by forcing him to perform a sort of circus act in front of others. As mentioned in the intro, this film manages to reach some dark depths within its short run time.
Drummer Boy is my mother’s favorite Christmas film, Rankin/Bass or otherwise. My family’s not one of the most religious (my father loathed sitting through church), but my mother tried to instill some of Catholicism’s values within my sister and I. She’s been struggling her entire life, and she’s always told me that having faith in something beyond yourself (whether there’s something there or not) will help me reach greater heights. She loves Drummer Boy because the little boy lost the hatred in his heart by placing faith in someone else. And even I have to say, that’s a nice message.
The Little Drummer Boy‘s heavy religiousness may turn most off, but hopefully it does teach you to love something other than yourself. It’s one of those “open your heart” stories that’s perfect around this time. But it’s still not my favorite Rankin/Bass movie. There’s still one more.
Tomorrow concludes our run through the Rankin/Bass films with my favorite one, Nestor, the Christmas Donkey.