We are halfway through November, which basically means that Christmas has arrived. The Christmas tree is waiting to be put up and the fall leaves and pumpkins are slowly being replaced by holly and snowflakes. What better way to further boost the holiday spirit than by watching Christmas movies? Over the next weeks I will be doing just that. Tag along while I review Hollywood’s attempts of making the new Christmas classic. Will they succeed? This week, it’s Klaus!
The origins of Santa Claus
The new animated Netflix original ‘Klaus’ tells us the story of Santa Claus. Have you ever wondered where the big, jolly, bearded man with all the presents comes from? Me neither. Ever since I know Coca-Cola made up Santa Claus as commercial stunt, no fairy tale could tell me otherwise. Until this movie.
Meet Jesper (Jason Schwartzman), a privileged postman-academy student with an attitude that reminds a lot of Emperor Kuzco; lazy, spoiled and arrogant. He deliberately flunks the academy and has to answer to his father, who is the chief of the postal-industry. As a disciplinary punishment, he is sent to Smeerensburg to set up a postal service; something that no one has been able to establish before.
Watching a new movie in an old style made me feel really nostalgic, a welcome feeling this time of the year
Smeerensburg is a cold and bitter island, which is known to be the ‘home of the world’s finest feuds’. This translates very well onto the screen, despite the primitive feel of the animation. After watching the trailer, I didn’t know how I would feel about watching a full length 2D animation film, as it reminded me of the animation style of the older movies from Disney, such as ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (1958). Nevertheless, watching a new movie in an old style made me feel really nostalgic, a welcome feeling this time of the year. The movie’s style has been rightfully described as a storybook look, which works really well in combination with the holiday theme.
How about those reindeer?
The plot continues, and after hopelessly attempting to get all of the hateful fighting villagers sending letters to the outside world, he knocks on the door of a familiar face. Klaus (J.K. Simmons) is a big, old, grumpy and intimidating lumberjack who happens to have a workshop full of new toys lying around. It doesn’t take Jesper very long to convince Klaus, who -not so surprisingly- is a good guy after all, to give the toys (in return for letters) to the village kids, who are deprived from the right to have fun or laugh.
In the meantime, we discover the ‘real’ truth about the flying reindeer, the sleigh and the elves working in Klaus’ workplace. Although originally done, it feels a lot like the movie needs to explain that there is absolutely no magic involved and that it is completely plausible that Santa Claus is real. This wouldn’t bother me as much if the ending hadn’t suggested otherwise, because I really do want to believe this story.
A true act of goodwill
Having said that, I don’t think that believing in this origins story of Santa Claus is the intent of the film. In classic hero’s journey style, the arrogant and egotistical postman learns that ‘a true act of goodwill always sparks another’. This message is present throughout the whole film, often accompanied by Zara Larsson’s powerful soundtrack ‘Invisible’, and leads the audience to shed a tear or two near the end.
A little less obvious, but very present, is the theme of parents fighting each other, while children are being left neglected. I think this is a very strong parallel of the world we live in today. And regarding the holiday spirit, we should look around a bit more and see who and what suffers when we fight.
A new classic?
As a final verdict, I will say that this film will definitely get you excited for Christmas. And if you’re way more critical of mushy and soppy Christmas films than I am, I can guarantee you that with a dash of dark humor and a gallon of slapstick, this film is for you too. There were some serious laugh out loud moments and I loved the heartwarming ending. This makes for a great new Christmas classic!
Cover – Jade van Laar
Final editor – Eva de Boer