Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Price: 25 cents (i shit you not!)
Run Time: 53 minutes
Director: Larry Roemer, Kizo Nagashima
Cast: Burl Ives, Billie Mae Richards, Larry D. Man

Christmas has arrived early!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, not quite, but it seems that way, because I just watched a 25 cent copy of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, that I bought last night.

We all know the story and the song. A misfit reindeer with a nose like Ringo Starr at a Senor Frogs struggles to find acceptance, until one day he is called upon to save the day. In addition to this being a popular song, children's films often go back to a very similar story. The moral is that different is good, even if (or especially if) you have a nose like a christmas light.

I can't help but feel that Tim Burton was heavily influenced by this movie. The scenes in Santa's shop and on Misfit Island (a haven for botched toys) are very reminiscent of The Nightmare Before Christmas. The absurd, yet organic look of the characters make me long for a time when stop motion (claymation or otherwise), was the standard in 3D animation. Although CGI animation has had some major triumphs, it has had more failures. Mr. Burton lost the magic of Nightmare Before Christmas when he focused on CGI in Corpse Bride, his most recent mediocre animated effort.

The stop-motion animation used in this classic movie is both organic and surreal in quality. It was considered cutting edge technology at the time it first aired on television. It was sponsored by General Electric, and TV guide did an entire spread on stop-motion animation. Rudolph is certainly one of the most famous stop-motion pieces, and was clearly a big television event.

If you are around my age (22) or older, you probably have seen this at least once, since they used to show it every year on TV, like how they show Its a Wonderful Life. These days Rudolph has been MIA, and not in the hipster-friendly rapper way. I guess today's kids are so used to CGI animation and cell animation that something like Rudolph might seem dated. Every once in awhile we get a Wallace and Gromit, or Chicken Run, but for the most part stop-motion has gone out of vogue when it comes to children's animated features. In fact, you're more likely to see stop-motion animation under the umbrella of experimental film and video. If you yourself are interested in learning stop-motion techniques, Rudolph wold probably be a good piece to look at. With the advancements in animation that have come since its creation, I am more likely to recommend Rudolph to fans of more off beat films than I am to recommend it to children. The jilty movement of the characters might be a little frightening to tots who are used to increasingly graceful characters.

Speaking of the characters, Rudolph has some great ones. My personal favorites are the Abominable snowman, and King Moonracer, who is the flying Lion that rules Misfit Island. Also, Coach Comet, Yukon Cornelius, and Hermey the Elf have some strong moments.

If there is a movement to bring back this classic to regular holiday programming, then i intend to join it. Maybe they could show it as a midnite movie? I know it has many fans....

Including Beyonce and Co.!



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