Christmas Story

By Anchor Bay Ent (Actor), Kari Väänänen (Actor), John Turturro (Actor), Noah Emmerich (Actor), Minna Haapkyla (Actor) & Juha Wuolijoki (Director)
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Item Description...

Overview
This Christmas, a great secret will be revealed. Have you ever wondered how Santa Claus came to be Santa? A long time ago, the world's greatest story was born when a young boy named Nikolas took on a mysterious mission and created a legend that would be carried on from generation to generation. This magical and heartwarming tale of how the gift giving tradition was created will bring holiday joy to the entire family!

Item Specifications...


Record Label   ANCHOR BAY
Format   Color / DVD / NTSC / Widescreen
Dimensions:   Length: 7.56" Width: 5.45" Height: 0.63"
Weight:   0.2 lbs.
Binding  DVD Video
Release Date   Nov 1, 2011
Publisher   EMI CMG Distribution
EAN  0013137222498  
UPC  013137222498  


Availability  0 units.


Product Categories

1DVD > Actors & Actresses > ( B ) > Borowitz, Katherine   [1  similar products]
2DVD > Actors & Actresses > ( E ) > Emmerich, Noah   [6  similar products]
3DVD > Actors & Actresses > ( T ) > Turturro, John   [13  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?

Santa as a mortal man who inspired a legend  Dec 1, 2009
If you enjoy movies about the life of Santa Claus and his origins, here is a very different one from Finland that takes a much more realistic approach and is well worth checking out. It's the story of a boy named Nikolas, hundreds of years ago, who loses his parents and baby sister at Christmas. The only orphan in Nikolas's tiny fishing village, it is decided he will be taken care of by a different family each year. This holds for a while, until the families can no longer afford to care for him. Then, the mean and bitter carpenter Iisakki takes him in when he notices Nikolas's talent for carving in the toys he gives to the village children. Soon, Nikolas is an adult with a passion for making and giving toys on Christmas Eve, but he is determined that his tradition shall carry on after he is gone.

Without spoiling too much, that is the main plot of "Christmas Story". So, you may have noticed that this isn't the Bob Clark/Jean Shepherd classic about Ralph Parker's quest for an official Red Ryder B.B. gun. It also isn't a Disney film, yet the folks at Anchor Bay have cleverly seen fit to include a magazine quote above the title stating that, "If WALT DISNEY would have known how, this is the kind of CHRISTMAS STORY he would have created." Well, I'm not sure why they think Walt Disney wouldn't have known how, and I'm sure this is NOT the kind of Christmas Story he would have done. This film is light on fantasy. In fact, it seems to be trying to tell a completely reality-based tale. Not a true story, mind you; this isn't the story of the real-life Saint Nicholas. But "Christmas Story" is instead a fictional story, a fully believable one, about a man named Nikolas who inspired the Santa legend. It actually reinforces the concept of parents giving the gifts and saying they are from "Father Christmas" rather than the idea that Santa is this immortal, magical person who lives at the North Pole. So, this may be a deciding factor for some of you. I tend to prefer the more fanciful Santa Claus stories myself, personal faves being "Here Comes Santa Claus" and "Santa Claus: The Movie", but this is still a good film for the most part. I can't see it being all that entertaining for children, however. I'd say this film would be better enjoyed by adults. One thing throws me off a bit though, and that's the ending. I don't think it's too revealing to say that we do see Santa flying through the sky, as do characters in the film, and this seems to contradict the film's telling of Nikolas only inspiring a legend... However, I've come to terms with the idea that the ending is just symbolic rather than a huge jump in the story bringing up a ton of questions. Because, seriously, the first time I watched the film, I was left wondering, "Wait a minute! They didn't explain how he became immortal and learned to fly, and so on and so on!" No, they didn't. This was just a movie about a real guy, which I realized on the second viewing, and that's not exactly what I want in a Santa Claus film, but it was still a mostly pleasing movie.

It should be pointed out that "Christmas Story" is a rather short film. It clocks in at around an hour and 17 minutes, which was after about 7 minutes of end credits. It's a good thing this film is usually found for around and under 10 dollars. Some may applaud the pacing and editing that make the film so brisk, but frankly, I think there was room for more character motivation and relationship development here and there. The film's better half is unquestionably the first half: Nikolas as a child. Plus, in that first half you still have hope that you are watching a more traditional Santa film that will explain the flight, the elves, and all that good stuff. In the second half, Nikolas is an adult, most of the joy in his hard and lonely life comes from his focus on Christmas and making/giving gifts. When he first is shown as passionate about expanding his operations, he actually seems to have been driven a bit mad by his loneliness, which is fascinating but not too charming, but other parts of the adult years half are still very enjoyable, like the introduction of reindeer and his red suit. This second half of the film does have those special moments, and it's still very touching at times, if lacking a rich conflict/climax beyond the question of Nikolas's mortality vs. his legend.

So, when all is said and done, this is a charming enough fictional story about a man who inspired the legend of Santa Claus. I personally can't help but wonder, why make a totally realistic Santa film that is fictional? Why not base it on Saint Nicholas's own story then? Oh well, whatever the reason, yes, this is a nice little Christmas movie, probably better appreciated by older viewers. It's brief, it's dubbed in English from the original Finnish (no option to view with the original audio), it has beautiful anamorphic widescreen visuals, fine acting (though the voiceover work varies), and the DVD includes a nice, meaty behind-the-scenes featurette and the film's trailer. While it could have been better, it's quite pleasant if you're interested in a less fantastic take on the origins of Santa Claus.
 
Not your average kids' holiday movie - artful, beautiful, with lovely message  Nov 30, 2009
This is a superbly rich and beautiful children's movie that tells the story of how Santa Claus came to be. Adults may not want to buy or rent this film just to watch by themselves, but it is perfect for a family movie night.

Spoiler-free plot summary: A young boy named Nikolas grows up in a small, wintery Finnish village and experiences a tumultuous early childhood. Mentored by a grumpy-turned-benevolent woodworker named Isaac, Nikolas becomes "Father Christmas" and brings joy to the village children with his beautiful hand-carved toys. (If you want a very in-depth plot summary, including spoilers, please scroll down to the paragraph with the two asterisks ** in front.)

The cinematography is superb, artful, and lasting -- so different from the choppy shots in mainstream American movies. The location is breathtaking, and the movie is worth watching for the landscape/snowscape shots alone. Personally, I found the characters -- with the exception of "crazy" Isaac (as the village children call him) -- to be fairly one-dimensional and the dialogue to be somewhat stilted and unrealistic; but this could be due in part to the translation from Finnish to American English. Nevertheless, these elements do not detract from the movie's overall beauty or message of love, generosity, family, and happiness.

Although obviously written and produced in Finnish, the film has been dubbed in American English for release in the US. This is perfect for younger viewers who may not be able to follow along with subtitles. However, there are conspicuous lip-synch issues with the English dubbing. I would have preferred to watch the film in spoken Finnish with English subtitles; but unfortunately this option is not available on the DVD, which is a huge disservice to adult viewers and older children.

The film is rated PG, likely because the subject matter is somewhat heavier than the standard American kids' movie. There is sadness and tragedy (death) at the beginning of the film, as well as one very dark, aggressive, mean-spirited antagonist -- "crazy" Isaac -- who could be frightening to very young and/or sensitive viewers. However, the rest of the movie is more lighthearted and is very positive and uplifting.

All in all, this is a top quality holiday film appropriate for all ages. Had the DVD included spoken Finnish with English subtitles, I would give it 5 stars.

** Complete plot summary, INCLUDING SPOILERS, for parents/caretakers who want to ensure that there's nothing inappropriate or too scary for their youngsters (do NOT read below if you don't want spoilers!):

The film begins at night, in a one-room log cabin, in the midst of a terrible snowstorm. Six-year-old Nikolas stays at home while his parents venture outside to take his baby sister to the doctor. Nikolas's family dies in the storm, and two village wardens come to collect the boy. It is understood (although not directly stated) that Nikolas's family died because they fell through a thin patch of ice over the river.

At a town hall meeting, the village decides to move orphan Nikolas from family to family each year on Christmas because no one can afford to feed or clothe him longer than that. At the meeting, the audience is introduced to "crazy" Isaac, a gruff, dark, witch-looking man with an angry and booming voice, who lives on the village outskirts. Isaac bitterly suggests that Nikolas be thrown into the river with his parents. The villagers obviously choose to help Nikolas, so the boy moves in with his first family. Nikolas is grateful for the hospitality and begins to carve little wooden Christmas toys for the children of the families he stays with.

Six years later, the village holds another town hall meeting. The fish harvest has been especially poor and no families can afford to keep Nikolas this year. The villagers are at a loss as to what to do, when Isaac -- who is still angry, bitter, and scary at this point -- offers to have Nikolas live with him. Wary at first, and literally left with no other option, the villagers eventually agree; and Nikolas and his meager belongings are sent to live with Isaac on the village outskirts. Isaac has a simple cabin perched on a hill overlooking a beautiful fjord; in the basement is a huge wood workshop. For the first year, Isaac calls Nikolas "brat" and demands to be called "master" as he shows the boy how to use the woodworking equipment and choose the best trees for lumber. Isaac is a successful woodcarver and sells his wares at the bustling city market, Nikolas in tow.

If your children watch the movie all the way through, they will not be scared of Isaac by the end of it. Isaac slowly but surely warms up when he discovers Nikolas's secret toymaking; Isaac even helps Nikolas deliver the toys the next Christmas. Nikolas learns that Isaac acts so angry and grumpy because his wife died and his children left him. The bond between Nikolas and Isaac grows as the seasons change, and before you know it Nikolas is an adult (and is starting to look more and more like Santa Claus, with long white blond hair and a scruffy beard!).

Grumpy Isaac is now an old man, and his sons, remorseful for leaving their father so many years earlier, come to collect him so he can live with them in a distant town. The bond between Isaac and Nikolas is strong, and Isaac's departure is sad for both of them. Isaac gives Nikolas a key to a large trunk inside the cabin, which contains all the money Isaac ever made from his woodworking business.

Nikolas now makes toys for all the village children and enlists his friend Emile to help keep track of all the children's names and houses. Nikolas uses Isaac's sled to deliver the toys, and his bag has become so heavy that he must purchase four reindeer to help pull the sleigh to the village. And, wouldn't you know it, the reindeer only respond to Nikolas's command when he wears red, so he purchases a luxurious burgundy cap and overcoat: unmistakably Santa Claus!

In the meantime, Nikolas has befriended Emile's daughter, Aada (pronounced "odda"). Aada often hangs out in the wood workshop and helps Nikolas deliver the Christmas toys to the village children. Nikolas carves a beautiful box with an enclosed note for Aada and delivers the toys by himself one Christmas, and then he disappears. Aada and her family know that they will never see Nikolas again (has he died? no explanation is given). The village parents decide to honor and continue Nikolas's tradtion by giving their children gifts each Christmas. Note that this last part -- that parents now give their children gifts -- is very, very subtly conveyed through minimalist dialogue; adults and teens will notice it, but children may not.

Overall, this is a beautiful, artful film with an equally beautiful message of love, generosity, family, and hope. Recommended!
 
A Touching Holiday Tale  Nov 30, 2009
First of all, this is not Bob Clark's wonderful holiday favorite, "A Christmas Story." This is a Finnish film dubbed in English. A young boy, Nikolas, loses his family and is left alone and homeless. The village folk decide that he will spend one year in each of the town's families. To acknowledge the kindness of the families, Nikolas makes toys year-round and delivers the gifts by leaving them outside the villagers' homes. Once the viewer gets used to the not-so-great dubbing and settles into the story, it holds the attention and has charm. The movie is really a fable, played out initially as a traditional drama. The Finnish Lapland locations are beautifully filmed, and the production design evokes a long-ago era. The movie is not a familiar, recycled Christmas saga, but one that is both entertaining, somewhat sad, and ultimately teaches a lesson about giving, responsibility, and gratitude. The central character is a sort of role model. For one of such a tender age, Nikolas is gracious, polite, hard-working, and recognizes and appreciates the generosity of others. The film underscores the theme of repaying generosity and kindness with the same, but does so in a non-preachy manner. There's a making-of featurette included as well as a theatrical trailer. I just wish the film had been released in the original Finnish with English subtitles.
 
5 STAR Beautiful Christmas Story Completely Melts Your Heart!  Nov 29, 2009
As a lover of Christmas movies, I was totally unprepared for the impact this Christmas Story movie would have on me and my entire family! It has become a movie that will be seen every year in our home.
This movie is dubbed in English, as it is a Finnish movie, but this makes no difference as the beautiful scenery and pure spirit of the film rise above everything that we have come to know as Santa Claus or St. Nick.
The Finnish Director and Producer Juha Wuolijoki one day said to himself, Have you ever wondered how Santa Claus became Santa Claus? To answer this question, he made the most beautiful movie ever told about Saint Nick- called Christmas Story. The story begins with a little 7 year old boy named Nikolas and shows how his life molded him into the man he became, which had such a great impact on everyone, that hundreds of years later we still carry on the tradition of gift giving at Christmas.
The film was shot in Northern Finland and in an old village in Finnish Lapland. To say these actors were truly freezing to death at below zero temperatures in the frigid arctic would be an understatement! There is nothing quite as beautiful as the real arctic, and not using fake snow in a film studio, to film a movie about Saint Nick! The real village, the real reindeer, the spectacularly gorgeous white scenery all give the movie a genuine magical quality that is illuminated by the beautiful old lanterns in the fishing village and on the sleighs! We all gasped when we first saw the candle lit workshop that would become Santa's toyshop, and this was filmed in an old mine- not a film set! It's a visual, magical feast for the eyes!
The very believable actors in their beautifully made period costumes, are mostly Finnish and some Swedish and the characters they play each have a tremendous impact on how Nikolas becomes Santa Claus.
The gifts Nikolas leaves for all the people in his village are not just given in gratitude, but it is obvious he wanted to leave them a little part of himself. The movie also contains bonus material on The Making Of Christmas Story, which is just as lovely as the movie. Now, thanks to Juha Wuolijoki, everytime I give or receive a Christmas gift, I will not only know it is given or received in happiness and gratitude, but that it contains a little part of ourselves and of Saint Nick- and that is the truest and purest meaning of the Spirit of Santa Claus! This is one Christmas Story that will become a permanent part of our yearly traditions for the lovely Holidays!
 
A good holiday film with beautiful cinematography but the DVD not including the original Finnish dialogue is a downer!  Nov 29, 2009
In 2007, the holiday film from Finland "Joulutarina" (Christmas Story), which was directed by Juha Wuolijoki and a screenplay by Marko Leino was released in theaters and won a Jussi Award in 2008 for "Best Cinematography" and an Audience Award in 2008 from the Sarasota Film Festival for "Best in World Cinema".

The film focuses on Nikolas, the boy who would one day be known as Santa Claus. Of course, with a variety of different stories of where the origination of "Santa Claus" came from, in "Christmas Story", the film revolves around a boy named Nikolas who lives in a small village where most of the surroundings is ice and snow.

One night, Nikolas's parents had to leave him at home as they had to bring their daughter Aada to the doctor because she was sick. Because they had to leave Nikolas (who was 7-years-old) home alone with enough food and firewood for a few days, the parents took a short cut. But with the parents not arriving back home, Nikolas receives the tragic news that his family fell under ice and died during their trip to the doctor. Now an orphan, Nikolas is brought to the main village where a few families live.

But with everyone with their own families and money tight, the village elder and the families agree that Nikolas will live with one family and on Christmas day, he will move to the next family. During his time with each family, to show his gratitude, Nikolas would use his father's knife to carve out animals or toys from wood, which he would then give to the kids of families of the homes where he stayed at.

For the most part, things went well for the next six years...that is until food became more difficult for each family to obtain. Because of this, families are no longer able to take in Nikolas.

But one day, a mean salesperson named lisakki, a man that literally scares the children has come to the village. Nikolas who doesn' t know why people are scared, gives lisakki one of his wooden toys. lisakki doesn't believe a young boy could make such a thing but learning that he has no place to live, he takes Nikolas in.

Of course, lisakki is quite mean to Nikolas but gives him a place to live and clean up the workshop. While lisakki is sleeping, Nikolas would continue making wooden toys for the kids at his village which he wanted to make sure he continued to give as gifts for appreciation.

It becomes a routine for Nikolas and as he gets older, he wants to give back to children not just in his original village but also in other villages as well. So, throughout the film, we see how the young boy grows up along with his guardian lisakki and suddenly becomes a man who has the long beard and dons a red suit, why he uses reindeer to pull his sled and why its so important for him to deliver toys to the children in different villages.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

"Christmas Story" is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen (2:35:1). For the most part, the film looks absolutely beautiful as most of the film is shot in a small village and we can see homes in the middle of nothing but snow and trees. The cold, winter weather was captured quite amazing on camera and was not CG'd. the cast and crew had to bare harsh conditions to make this film because a lot of the electrical equipment had difficulty working in cold weather and the wiring would easily snap because of the cold weather. But the scenes overlooking the mountains, snow covered trees, varying seasons during the fall and winter. Simply put, Mika Orasmaa's cinematography is amazing and beautiful.

Audio is presented in English Dolby Surround 5.1 and 2.0 and for me, this is probably the most disappoint part of the DVD. The English dub was well, but I prefer to watch this film in its original Finnish dialogue. It's quite interesting because the special feature features the dialogue in Finnish. For the most part, dubbed dialogue is clear and understandable. I didn't notice the surround channels being used all that much but the film is pretty much center and front channel driven.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

"Christmas Story" comes with the following special features:

* "The Making of Christmas Story" - (21:57) the cast and crew talk about the challenge of making this film in the extreme cold (a lot of the equipment would not work in the intense cold and the wires would snap like branches because of the cold weather). We learn about the scene location and certain scenes that were shot (and cut) from the film.
* Christmas Story Trailer - (1:16) The theatrical trailer for "Christmas Story".

JUDGMENT CALL:

Overall, "Christmas Story" was an enjoyable holiday film. The film would make a good family film but children under 6-years-old, that's a tough call because it is a PG film and some children might get scared of how lisakki treats young Nikolas and the fact that there are dramatic scenes in the film.

I enjoyed "Christmas Story" and the special feature was very interesting to watch, especially to see how difficult it was to shoot the film due to the weather conditions. But I have to say that I was very disappointed that Anchor Bay Entertainment did not include the Finnish audio track and English subtitles to accompany it. We've come to a point in time where many people who are getting exposed to international films want to enjoy a film spoken in the original language. And the fact that it's not included on this DVD is disappointing.

Yet, it's hard for me to dislike the film because the cinematography is beautiful and I did enjoy the film because although it does feature Santa Claus, it was an intriguing take on how Nikolas became Santa Claus . "Christmas Story" is an entertaining holiday film...and if you have been watching the same Christmas films for the last few decades, its something different this time around.

Overall, if you can overlook the DVD not including the original spoken dialogue, then "Christmas Story" is definitely a holiday film worth checking out.
 

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