Many, and by many I mean a vast majority of, Christmas specials are more secular in nature meaning they deal with the myths and the folklore of the season, which is all well and good, but on occasion it is important to reflect on the true significance of the date. When more secular specials break for a moment into the more spiritual, and the better ones do like Charlie Brown and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, it is noteworthy. More noteworthy still is one that deals head on with the religious aspect of the holiday.
To start about the only thing, of major significance, you can knock this special on is some of the writing, it is likely the weakest in that department of the wonderful specials that Romeo Muller and Rankin & Bass brought us. There is a lot of repetition early on about how Aaron hates people, however, some of the finer writing in the piece is when you finally see why.
Also noteworthy are the words Muller wrote which are elevated by the stunning narration by Greer Garson. There is no narrator personified in the case. She is simply a storyteller whose voice moves the tale along which makes her role more important and allows you to delve deeper into this profound tale.
Where this special separates itself is that it is the most cinematic. The climax of the tale is practically all visuals and this film soars to new heights as Aaron is overcome with emotion and changes. He decides on his gift with little commentary. Then there is no commentary as for the first time in the special we hear the Vienna Boys’ Choir singing “The Little Drummer Boy” in its entirety and in full voice.
Then the conclusion which sends this film out of the stratosphere is the closing as relayed by Our Story Teller, as the narrator is referred to in the script. It’s a story that starts a bit slowly and uneasily but absolutely packs a wallop each and every time you see it, and beautifully sends home the message of the holiday.
The visceral impact of the conclusion of this short special is what makes this the absolute best special that Rankin and Bass ever put out. It’s an absolute classic.