Christmas Special Review: O Natal de Todos Nós


I didn’t, as of yet, stockpile a bunch of new Christmas specials for this year so I am unsure how many of these reviews will be posted, and how many titles will be added to this year’s Holiday Viewing Log (to be posted soon) in addition to the first class.

O Natal de Todos Nós

However, I did see this short special through the year. It’s interesting that this universally loved group of characters in Brazil in essence did one special did kind of what I suggested in this piece. The film goes through short iterations where we see disparate characters, one-by-one, have their own Christmas preparations and they all coalesce in the end and join into one story.

The stories deal with the following characters: Horácio, Jotalhão, Mônica, Cebolinha, Cascão, Magali, Bidu, Franjinha, Chico Bento, Astronauta, etc. and is made up of shorts produced from 1966-1986. It includes a preponderance of voice over, emphasis on montage and stills. Techniques aside there are quite a few interesting thematic touchstones in it such as, mainly, the fact that there are dinosaurs and Jesus, thank you, Brazil! Aside from the co-existence of science and religion in the same special, which would be unheard of here; there is also fantasy and reality side-by-side such as acknowledgment of the true nature of Santa Claus and embracing it nonetheless. There are other aspects touched upon both universal (midnight mass) and culturally specific (trying wine with parental consent), more creative touches (a celestial Christmas tree and the Big Bang) and voice talent up the wazoo.

Perhaps what’s best is, that at least for the time being, I found it on YouTube (Sorry, I did not locate English dubbing or subtitles). Enjoy!

Christmas Special Review- Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

If you need further evidence of the genius of Rankin & Bass, and their favorite writer Romeo Muller, I present to you exhibit B: Rudolph the Red- Nosed Reindeer. The only thing I could really call this special out on, in my umpteenth viewing, was how silly Rudolph’s ostracism is, but that’s a given of the story, and ostracism is usually baseless and it’s really lampooned if it’s based on something so frivolous.

What really stands out in this tale is the characters and some of the things which are done with them. You have Rudolph’s parents who have differing opinions his mother sees no problem with the nose, his father, Donner; is embarrassed by it. You also have Santa Claus, of all people, being wrong about Ruldolph and admitting as much.

Typically, I do not favor didacticism in the arts, but there are exceptions to every rule, and many to this one; here it works wonderfully because it’s not overt. Kids see that even Santa can be wrong and learn not to judge a book by it’s cover, so to speak.

Yet, where this special really excels is in the original characters it brings into the mix, and the different wants they each have, and yet, most of them are also misfits. There of course is Hermey, who wants to be a dentist and not build toys. He and Rudolph are fast friends.

The cause and effect also works very well the Abominable Snow Monster chases them away and they run into Yukon Cornelius. A character who meets a very real fate, following a Disney axiom that you can scare kids if things work out in the end.

Then of course there is the iconic Island of Misfit Toys. All these pieces may seem disparate but the fact that they’re all sewn together in a coherent manner, and each are still original pieces that do not get homogenized, make this story work.

Thanksgiving Review: Mayflower Voyagers

This is a Peanuts special that was made several years after the original Thanksgiving tale which sees the characters we have come to know assuming the roles of Pilgrims.

It does a rather admirable job of recounting the tale of both the journey across the Atlantic and also the Pilgrim’s first few years on the new continent, albeit a somewhat sanitized one.

The voice over in this tale is very persistent as it is truly a storybook type tale and save for one or two slips in pacing it’s nearly impeccable and a very admirable feat.

Over the years the voice casting of these specials was tremendous overall as the actors frequently had to be switched to have them sound genuinely like children and not adults imitating kids’ voices. To keep the same quality of voice in each character is quite a feat and it was nearly always seamless. Here though you will notice that there was quite a departure in the casting of Marcy.

It is for all that still a very worthwhile and humorous look at the early origins of the holiday and, in fact, our nation, that is worth seeing and it is usually included as a bonus feature on Happy Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown DVDs.