With the likes of Rare Exports and Tokyo Godfathers becoming cult classics around this time of year, and after a handful have cropped up in the past, this year’s Alternative Christmas Film Advent Calendar focuses solely on foreign language/ non-English Christmas films. Some simply less heard of around the world, and in some cases their home country, while others aren’t deeply rooted in the season. And so, via this year’s Calendar, let’s go abroad for this year’s Christmas vacation.
The final film in this year’s calendar seems almost right to end on after a week that appears to have largely been filled with dramas about feuding families. In fact, today’s entry is perhaps the most conventional Christmas film that may ever appear in any edition of the calendar. In many ways Christmas Story, as the title might suggest, is an out and out Christmas film – alternative simply because of it’s little known status around the rest of the world.
It seems fitting for this year’s Christmas Eve film to be one about the origins of Santa Claus. And a Finnish one to be precise. Housing Santa in his other home of Lapland we see him go from orphaned child Nikolas (Jonas Rinne/ Otto Gustavsson), leaving thank you presents for the children of the families who take him in each year, to the iconic red-suited, jolly fellow of Christmas (Hannu-Pekka Björkman). When he finds himself taken in by strict, hard-working carpenter Iisakki (Kari Väänänen) while his carpentry skills, and opportunities, are enhanced his Christmas ‘operations’ are too, especially when it comes to the distance travelled to the town.
Overtime, as both characters age, a bond begins to grow between them, and Christmas becomes an even bigger part of the year. Rumours begin to spread about who’s really bringing the presents each year. Myth and legend are created by the local children – enhancing the idea of Santa’s origins and the tales around him.
As a whole the film feels strongly in the vein of traditional festive family flicks. From start to finish, unlike other films not just this year but in previous ones too where the point could be up for debate, this is undeniably a Christmas film. The spirit of the season flowing throughout it, making for even more fitting Christmas Eve viewing as the film begins to look at the impact of Nikloas’ actions on the town, and perhaps even beyond as while he himself begins to isolate himself from the town to keep mystery afloat he continues to hold a friendship with growing Aada (Laura Birn).
A film focusing on the origins and spread of both the Christmas spirit and Santa himself. One which knows the mythology that it wants to depict and does it rather well with an enjoyable traditional fashion. Certainly living up to what it says on the tin and being a rather good Christmas Story to end this year’s globetrotting Alternative Christmas Film Advent Calendar on.
Christmas Story can be watched in the following places:
iTunes/ Apple TV
Or, if you’re not able to/ don’t want to find a physical copy, you can find a list of most services housing the film, including in different countries, on JustWatch.