Saturday, 7 December 2013

Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Everyone knows the story of Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer. He had a very shiny nose. This little stop-motion gem is yet another of the beloved Rankin/Bass productions that so many had the joy of growing up with. They remain as cute and rewatchable as ever, and I recommend all of them for children of all ages.

The story is narrated to viewers by Sam the Snowman (voiced by Burl Ives) and while things start off in very familiar territory - Rudolph is called names and not allowed to join in all the reindeer games - it soon moves on to something a bit different. Rudolph leaves his home, and it's not long until he meets up with an elf who wants to be a dentist and an adventurer looking for silver and gold. The three of them somehow end up on an island that is home to all of the misfit toys, toys that actually look to Rudolph and co. for a helping hand.

There's nothing more to say about this other than it's a Rankin/Bass Christmas outing, which is all that many people will need to hear before remembering it with affection, and with good reason. It's actually directed by Larry Roemer and written by Romeo Muller, based on a story by Robert May, but the identity stamped all over it is Rankin/Bass.

The character design and animation is adorable, even if it's also a bit rough around the edges at times. There are a few songs, none of them spectacular, but all enjoyable enough, plenty of references to the song that shares the title of the film, and moments of surreal joy that somehow balance out the potential excess sweetness with the imagination on display.

Clocking in at just under an hour, this isn't really a feature, but it's just long enough to keep kids entertained without having to throw in a lot of extra gags for every scene. By the time the end credits roll, hopefully, the little ones will have taken in a little lesson about how it's okay to be different. It's okay to be yourself. Meanwhile, older viewers have been able to rekindle some childhood memories or just soak up the simple pleasure of the experience.


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