|SANTA CLAUS (1959)
|Copyright 1959 Cinematografica Calderon S.A.
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 21 December 2007
- Santa - He constantly chuckles, which gets kinda creepy after a while.
- Merlin - His shocking disregard of prudent safety measures while working with radioactive materials was, well, shocking.
- Hephaestus - The god of blacksmiths works for Santa now. Mostly, he forges magical keys that will open any lock. However, he probably assists with the Christmas lists from world leaders: a nuclear ballistic missile submarine for Russia, ICBMs for the United States, and machetes for South Africa - that sort of thing.
- Lupita - A little girl who only asks for a doll to call her own. Cute wish, but there might be some other things she needs, too. Things like a hot meal, antibiotics, clothes that are not torn, or a bed free of parasites; any of those would be nice.
- Billy - The only thing he wants for Christmas is the love of his parents. Failing to obtain that for more than one day a year, he eventually changed his name to "Henry Spencer."
- The Bad Boys - The trio spends Christmas Eve smashing store windows and stoning effigies of Santa. The following day, the only toys they have to play with are chunks of coal (I imagine those were also chucked at likenesses of Saint Nick).
- Dante - Bad dog!
- Pitch - When Satan's head devil has nothing better to do than causing Santa mild grief, you start wondering. I mean, just how evil is EVIL?
|I am about to tell you some facts about Santa that are surprising. Grab and hold onto your britches, this film is a doozy.
Santa Claus lives in a magical castle above the North Pole (meaning "in space" - how the heck Santa achieved a geostationary polar orbit is beyond me). Two more orbital fortresses can be seen, but we are never told who lives in them; maybe they belong to the Easter Bunny and Father New Year. Heck, for all we know, Warmech patrols a floating walkway that links the three domains and Tiamat is the closest neighbor to Father Christmas.
From his lofty vantage point, Santa uses a variety of spying devices to keep tabs on the world's children. The instruments are a disturbing mix of mechanical and organic elements. There is a huge eyeball for visual target acquisition, an ear for eavesdropping, and even a mammoth set of fleshy lips on one console. I have to tell you, those lips freak me out.
Among the various machines, Santa has a gadget that can display a sleeper's dreams. That explains why he stopped visiting my house around the seventh grade. I had a lot of dreams involving Cindy Crawford that year.
Another obvious deficiency is elves, because there aren't any. Instead, hundreds of children build the toys for Santa. They do not get to live inside the big, comfy palace. Instead, the children are forced to work in the courtyard, with snow falling on them. Now and then, Santa comes out to tell his young slaves that Christmas depends on them. From a conversation he has with one child, I get the idea that Santa took them from Earth when they were very young and the children have never seen their places of birth. This makes it a little weird that they would speak different languages and wear clothes appropriate for their country of origin.
Santa's antagonist is a devil named Pitch. Pitch has huge ears and is tasked with ruining Christmas by Lucifer himself. Pitch tends to perform interpretive devil dances while about his tasks. He spends most of his time trying to convince children to do bad things, like throw rocks through windows at hideous mechanical Santa constructs that laugh at all the little ones pressed against the store windows. The fiendish devil is only successful with the Three Bad Boys, though he expends quite a bit of effort on Lupita. The little girl resists Pitch's pitch, but the trauma probably caused her to develop mental health issues later in life.
Do you remember writing letters to Santa when you were a kid? I do. The children in this film are no different. They create huge backups in the post office until the mass of envelopes is shot into the sky and sucked into Santa's special mail delivery system. Just about anything you could think of pops up in letters to Kris Kringle. One kid asks for a laundry list of items, including a machinegun! Guess what, Santa drops that letter into the "Approved" chute! Why didn't I ever think to ask Santa for a machinegun? I could have found an M240G under the tree on Christmas morning, instead of a baseball and glove. Arrrgggghhh!
Some other boy asks for a little brother. Santa places that one aside with a happy, "Ho, ho, ho." Yes, jolly old Saint Nick will be happy to provide you with a little brother, but the new baby will not arrive until mid-September.
To help him with the magic needed to put children to sleep and turn invisible, Santa relies on Merlin the Magician. The old wizard walks in a peculiar fashion (maybe he is a satyr), but he knows how to make sleeping powder. What he does not know is how to keep the special butterflies (dust from their wings is required for the sleeping powder) alive in captivity. I felt sorry for the one butterfly that was just laying at the bottom of its gilded cage, twitching. The last arcane item provided by Merlin is a flower, merely smelling it will cause Santa to disappear.
Elsewhere in the royal Claus palace (I mean inside, not outside in the snow, with those horrible commoner laborers) is the room where Hephaestus labors at his forge. Actually, I think that the blacksmithing deity is supposed to be Vulcan, but that doesn't make any sense. Why would the Roman god of fire work for Saint Nick? Nick is a Greek name.
Wow, I am getting way off track here.
After obtaining a magical key from Hephaestus that will open any door by arc welding the lock, Santa inspects his sleigh. The reindeer are clockwork automatons! I guess that the same cost-cutting measures that forced Santa to get rid of the elves (and their troublesome union) also led to the transition from living reindeer to furry robots. The mechanical reindeer do not require food, water, or stables - just fold them up and store them in a packing crate until they are needed again.
How much do you want to bet that, for several weeks after Blitzen and the others were "let go," Santa ate a lot of venison?
Finally, Santa rides to Earth on his sleigh, and Pitch, still bent on stopping Christmas, tries everything from moving the chimney on one house to blowing on the doorknob of another (devils have hot breath). Cunning as ever, Santa enters via a window and sneaks up behind the devil. He primes and fires a toy cannon that hits the evil imp in the butt with an arrow-like projectile, causing Pitch to shriek and dance around the room. Wait a minute, he was going to give that toy cannon to a child?
What should have happened is this: Santa drawing forth a massive broadsword and cleaving Pitch in twain, then throwing the twitching carcass into the fire and letting out a ground-shaking belly laugh. Merlin has a history of hooking his friends up with magical swords. Why is Santa contesting against a minion of Satan without so much as a magic snowball?
Is there something wrong with believing that Saint Nicholas, patron of needy children, is a warrior at heart? He is centuries old and has survived wars, plagues, and cataclysms, not to mention oppressive despots (Hitler, Genghis Khan, Burgermeister Meisterburger) trying to kill him. I can safely say that, given a broadsword, the old man can probably kick some ass.
However, my Santa is not the one portrayed in this unique film. This incarnation of Father Christmas finds himself in trouble after Pitch cuts a hole in his belt pouch. All of the sleeping powder and the invisibility flower fall out the bottom, leaving Santa in quite a pickle when Pitch sics a vicious dog on him. My Santa would kick the mutt across the yard; this one climbs into a tree and calls out for Merlin to help him. Will one of the children hear Santa's plea for assistance and alert the old wizard or will Lupita wake Christmas morning to find her hopes and dreams dashed?
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Santa lives in an orbital fortress.
- The cost of running a toy factory at the North Pole is offset by the lack of child labor laws.
- Devils are terrified of ice cream trucks.
- The NSA really is staffed by elves.
- Santa's palace is kept neat and tidy by a fleet of red Roombas.
- Letters sent to Santa require a 42¢ anti-gravity stamp.
- Merlin the Magician invented LSD, angel dust, cocaine, and Splenda.
- Hell has strict emissions regulations.
- Santa's red suit is made of asbestos and Nomex.
- Always pay for the ignition kill switch option when you purchase an artificial reindeer.
- Opening Credits - If our kitchen was decorated with this wallpaper, I would be a scraping fool until it was gone.
- 8 mins - How many children has Santa kidnapped over the years?
- 21 mins - Now it is time to unwrap something for daddy...
- 22 mins - All things considered, the film makers were lucky that Disney did not sue them over that.
- 32 mins - What is a mushroom cloud doing there?
- 36 mins - "If you want to eat tonight, I had better have a sleigh full of toys by ten o'clock!"
- 69 mins - "Did you put dry ice in my martini?"
- 75 mins - A painting of the Virgin Mary is obscured by Pitch's shadow! I would call this clever, but I think it happened by accident.
- 80 mins - The COC should be manned at all times on Christmas Eve.
- 90 mins - What sort of job was Lupita's father looking for at 5:00 AM? Is he a professional ladyboy in Tijuana or something?
- Bad Boy #1: "Okay, listen now! As soon as Santa Claus lands on the roof here, all three of us will jump on him."
Bad Boy #2: "We'll tie him up and we'll stick him in the sack and then we'll go home with all of Santa's toys."
Bad Boy #3: "But what about Santa?"
Bad Boy #1: "We can make him our slave and all his candies and toys will belong to us."
- Billy's Mother: "That's a strange cocktail, isn't it?"
Santa: "It's the cocktail of remembrance, which only I can prepare. Whoever drinks it will think of that which is most dear and, which at times, for some unknown reason, we seem to forget."
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Lucifer: "You, Pitch, chief of all my demons, must listen closely. The time is almost here when you must abandon the brimstone pits and journey up to Earth, but this time you must not fail at your appointed task. You must not be defeated by the bearded old goat, Santa Claus. If you do not succeed in making all the children of the Earth do evil, you shall be punished."
||Narrator: "Who are these three? Say, it's rude to push and shove like that, but the devil likes rude little boys and it doesn't take him long to find them. They're just right for his evil plans."
||Santa (reading a letter): "My dear Santa Claus, this year I have behaved very well. I have been obedient and have studied very much. For that reason, please try to bring me these toys: a toy automobile, a submarine, a football, a bat, roller skates, a scooter, a cannon, a rocket, a bicycle, an atomic laboratory, a machinegun...oohhhh, oooohhhh!"
||Santa: "In that case, I couldn't get back to the castle, and on what they use for food I'd perish, because here our main food is pastries and ice cream made of soft cloud and on the Earth there's no such thing." |
Child: "What food do they eat on Earth, Santa Claus?"
Santa: "Oooo, everything in sight! They eat most of the animals, the plants, the flowers, the roots, birds - even smoke and alcohol!"
|Theme Song|| Listen to a clip from the soundtrack. |
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|Pitch is making the doorknob red hot by blowing on it, but Santa sneaks in through a window. The jolly old man pulls a toy cannon from his sack, and sees a way to get back at the bothersome devil. |
Was he really going to give that toy to a child? The darts it fires look lethal.
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