Day four of Nick’s Flixmas continues this little Santa kick I’m on with another Rankin/Bass special, The Year Without a Santa Claus. This film should be notable for a few reasons. First off, it’s the only one that centers on Mrs. Claus (thus becoming one of the few films in their line-up with a female narrator), Santa Claus is kind of a jerk in this, and it once again stars Bugermeister Meisterburger as his puppet is reused for Heat Miser.
Oh yeah! And it’s the only one that features Mother Nature, in all her frightening glory. But while The Year Without a Santa Claus is intriguing visually, it never quite took off like the others. It’s not quite as forgotten as Pinocchio’s Christmas or that one with the Leprechauns, but it’s still sadly forgettable.
[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 Year Without a Santa Claus arguably has the best premise of all the Rankin/Bass specials. Wait, did I ever explain what the Rankin/Bass specials were? Sorry! Rankin/Bass productions was founded by Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass and is known for their holiday specials. It doesn’t limit them to Christmas either. There’s an Easter one, and then there’s another one. But that’s pretty much it. They’re known for their amazing stop motion animation, and their puppet design. They were essentially Laika (the team behind ParaNorman) before it was cool. The art’s become so timeless, it’s shown every year here in America.
As mentioned in the intro, Without a Claus features a jerk Santa Claus as he finds himself at a loss of faith and decides to take a holiday rather than deliver gifts to children. Finding her husband’s distraught nature unappealing, Mrs. Claus takes it upon herself to find Christmas spirit (and the belief in Santa Claus) on Earth. The problem here is the idea of Mrs. Claus going on a journey of discovery is far more interesting than what we’re actually given. We’re given two unfunny (even as a child I found them grating) comic reliefs, a small town full of greedy jerks who still get what they want anyway, and a jerk Santa that just sort of flops around the entire special. At least Mother Nature is appropriately strong.
The worst part of all of this? The conclusion. Instead of Santa realizing how much of a jerk he is thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Claus, he succumbs to the will of a greedy little girl who sings about how said she is. As the children of the world grow and learn Santa’s kindness shouldn’t be taken for granted, and willingly give up their happiness for another’s, one lone selfish girl thwarts the feelings of the entire world. Merry Christmas, I guess.
Time to be more positive. There’s still plenty of days left for that as I have two more Rankin/Bass specials lined up! Tomorrow? The Little Drummer Boy, my mother’s favorite!