Today for Day 5 of our 12 Days of Christmas Reviews we’ll be taking a look at Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964). This is the classic stop motion TV special that originally aired on NBC. If you are familiar with the song then you already have a pretty good idea what the movie is about, except for Hermey the elf obsessed with dentistry, he’s new.
In this telling Rudolph is born to Donner, one of Santa’s reindeer. It quickly becomes obvious that he is different, and despite his amazing flying ability he is rejected because of his red nose. Meanwhile Hermey the elf is having trouble fitting in as well. You see elves are supposed to make all the toys Santa delivers on Christmas Eve, but Hermey just wants to be a dentist. What kid can’t relate to that? Both Rudolph and Hermey find themselves wandering the Arctic wilderness where they meet Yukon Cornelius, a prospector looking to find his fortune and driving a sled pulled by poodles and dachshunds. This trio of odd balls meet the toys on the Island of Misfit Toys, and eventually defeat the Abominable Snowman. In an effort to get Santa to help the toys on the Island of Misfit Toys Rudolph goes back to the North Pole. Once there he is called upon to use his shiny red nose to guide Santa’s sleigh through a snow storm.
Other than the classic songs and the wonderful animation, the best part of this movie is the characters. It should be obvious that most, if not all of the main characters are misfits. A red nosed reindeer, an elf with dental ambitions, a prospector with sled poodles, and of course an entire island of misfit toys. This begs the question, is the movie saying we should accept misfits, or that we are all misfits? I can’t speak for every child, but I know that I and most of my friends felt like misfits growing up. So maybe we could use this movie as a way to teach that we are all a little weird, and thats Ok.
The other perspective is of course that Rudolph isn’t a misfit at all. He is a hero, endowed with super powers, who has come to save the day. He is like so many great people throughout history that were seen as crazy or weird, but in the end prove to be gifted or even genius. This goes for all the heroes in this story. Only Rudolph could guide the sleigh, only Dr. Hermey DDS could extract all the teeth from the Abominable Snowman, and only Santa could save the toys from the Island of Misfit Toys.
So perhaps both perspectives are true. We are all weird misfits, and you never know who is going to be the hero that saves Christmas. I really hope you will watch this movie again this year, I found it to be just as charming today as it was the first time I saw it.
Tomorrow Micah will take a look at A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965). You won’t want to miss that one. Enjoy!