Wednesday, December 23, 2020



Netflix viewing 

The real-world origin of the mythological figure known as Santa Claus goes way back—I mean waaaaay back—but Hollywood has had their share of fun creating origin stories more befitting such a beloved character. 

I remember, for instance, the Rankin-Bass animated TV special Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, featuring voice actors Mickey Rooney and Fred Astaire (this year is its fiftieth anniversary). In 1985 RB made a second origin story, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.

Last year, Spanish animator Sergio Pablos added his Netflix feature film Klaus to the pile and gained an Academy Award nomination for his effort. A former Disney imagineer who worked on Tarzan and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, he and his team at SPA Studios animated the film by taking 2D digital animation and lighting it as if it were 3D.

The story involves a young postman, a privileged rich kid, assigned to a remote northern village in order to establish a successful post office and prove his worth. He stumbles upon a way to get it going when he meets a reclusive toymaker and encourages him to make toys for the children of a community at war with itself. Complications ensue. Jason Schwartzman voices the young postman and JK Simmons (who sounds just like Peter “Optimus Prime” Cullen in this) voices Klaus.

I like that Klaus is (mostly) grounded in the real world, with almost nothing in the way of what could be considered “magic.” The usual myths about Santa have a real-world foundation and are developed through the rumor and exaggeration of the children. 

The animation reminded me of the work of Don Bluth in places. It doesn’t resemble the Pixar/Dreamworks CGI style we’ve come to expect these days, but it is something more than traditional 2D. The effect is startling, and it brings a fresh twist to computer animation. I kinda hope it catches on.


  1. I don't know why my kids didn't know or didn't tell me about Klaus. It sounds like something I must see over the holidays this year.

    Janet is on "vacation" which means I can drag her in front of the TV. After two weeks we'll be back to the AT WORK sign on her door.

    1. Let me know what she thinks of the animation style. I was interested to read about how KLAUS tried to meld 2D art with 3D lighting and I thought the overall effect was good.

  2. I watched Klaus last Christmas and really liked it. As you said, th style of the animation is great and I hope we'll see more films like these. The real-world connection was also a great one.
    Merry Christmas!

  3. Yeah, I liked that the Santa myth was constructed without an overdose of magic for a change. It was clever.

    Feliz Natal to you too.

  4. I meant to get to this one this year, but didn't. I might have to put at the top of the list for next year. I really enjoy Christmas movies during December up to and including Christmas day, but then my interest drops off. I have the same issue with Christmas crafts, which I'm sorting out and packing back up today.

    Hope you had a nice holiday, Rich! Here's to hoping for better days in 2021.

  5. I think I understand the feeling.

    Always good to hear from you. Hope next year is better for all of us.


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