- Background Artwork by Steffi Whittaker -


12/22/99 - Our first viewer review! - - > I laughed, I cried, I watched in amazement this latest installment in what is apparently a Christmas viewing tradition... a tradition, I might add, made immeasurably more pleasurable with the debut of this fresh, new "Christmas classic!" Although on first viewing one might be tempted to dismiss this film as just another "The Smurfs Meet The Exorcist On The Set Of The Blair Witch Project", further watching rewards the observant critic with layers of rich & colorful imagery, symbolism, & metaphor; indeed, the film is less like an onion, which one peels apart layer after layer, but more of a cinematic pomegranite, each sweet juicy morsel only adding to the total experience.

Altho more learned critics will undoubtedly watch & discuss this film a thousand times in years to come, please allow this poor wordsmith a brief moment to point out but a few of the many literary references in this deeply felt (and deeply moving) cinema tour de force. The Kringelotts themselves are a subtlely complex family of elves...seeming to exist only to do good deeds & prepare for Christmas, each Kringelott embodies some holiday trait:

* Sugarplum represents the magic of Christmas, the decorations & seasonal trappings- her silence throughout the movie speaks to us of midnight snow falling softly upon evergreen branches.

* Tinselott demonstrates to us all that is good & noble in the human spirit: kindness, selflessness, courage & perseverance, traits that all to often only appear during the holidays.

* Nutmeg & Pa Myrhh remind us all of the child within us, carefree, fun-loving & "living life to the fullest."

* Yule, the main player in this multifaceted epic, is all this & more. He is full of energy & joy, romping on the beach when we first meet him, yet only minutes later, bravely struggling to carry a large rock up a precipitous incline.

I was deeply he the Christ figure, struggling to carry the cross to Golgotha, or is he the mythological character doomed by the ancient greek gods to forever roll a rock to the top of a hill only to see it roll back down again? We are not left to wonder long, for soon Yule unearths some mystic talisman from the past. Again, the image of the crucifixion is almost palpable in the wooden statue, but I felt a stronger case can be made for the figure as the crass commercialism of Christmas- witness how quickly Yule tells the figure he loves it, & how determined he is to keep it &, especially, to keep it a secret only he possesses. (I must take this opportunity to mention a bit of "naughty" humor in this film...Yule always keeps the statue in his pants, which is quite funny in itself, but during the "exorcism" scene when it is removed from his pants one of the Kringelotts remarks "I thought it would be bigger!"- a delightful double-entendre, no?)

Once the transformation of Yule begins, the movie really picks up steam. The juxstaposition of Nutmeg & Pa Myrhh's efforts to capture & restrain Yule are a humorous counterpoint to Tinselott & Sugarplum's epic journey to gain the knowledge of Wise Wayne. Wayne, too, is an enigmatic creature; altho Tinselott & Sugarplum seem satisfied enough with the unspoken revelation that perhaps the "sins of the flesh" were all that lured him away from the forest, Wayne's choice of furry haberdashery & his constant use of tobacco implies that he, as well as Yule, may have succumbed to the siren call of the consumer marketplace, ultimately the "anti-Christmas" that the Kringelotts speak of so fearfully.

Armed with the lore provided, the elves finally stand face to face, mano y mano with the darkness. All comparisons with "The Exorcist" are valid, altho this film rises far above that pea soup vomiting genre. Indeed, the graphic image that burns itself into one's mind is that of a helpless Yule, bound & tied with holiday decorations, looking for all the world like some wierd human Christmas tree! As you would expect from such seasonal fare, good does indeed triumph over evil, although I find it extremely refreshing that good does so without resorting to laser weaponry or the martial arts!

Rarely does a film strike so many chords, or give one so much to think about...I certainly could go on & on dissecting the many nuances & subtleties of each & every scene. I would also be remiss if I did not mention the musical score, a lilting melange of tunes including "Shaft" & "Bonanza"... one can hope for a soundtrack CD any day now.

Kudos to all involved in this project, & Bravo to the actors & actresses who all did such a fine job! In closing, I can only quote Siskel & Ebert who said about this film: "We'd give it two thumbs up, but one of us is dead."

PS- Thanks for the video, wife & I loved it!

Steve the WAS truck driver

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