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Journey To The Christmas Star DVD Review

Journey To The Christmas Star DVDDirector: Nils Gaup,

Starring: Vilda Zeiner, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Agnes Kittelsen, Stig Werner Moe, Eilif Hellum Noraker, Sofie Asplin, Jakob Oftebro, Evy Kasseth Rosten, Kristin Zachariassen, Andreas Cappelen,

Running Time: 74 minutes

Certificate: PG

When it comes to movies, Christmas and the Nordic countries have been excellent bedfellows in recent years. Finland gave us the beautiful RARE EXPORTS and CHRISTMAS STORY, and now it’s time for Norway to shine with JOURNEY TO THE CHRISTMAS STAR, a fantasy adventure which delights in its creative world and simple but powerful story. Opening up with a prologue from a storybook, we’re instantly instilled with the feeling of being wrapped up in front of the fireplace. It’s warm and welcoming, just like a Christmas film should be. It details the disappearance of a young princess called Golden Hair, and how her father then cursed the Christmas Star. Unless the Christmas Star is found within 10 years (we’re now at the 9th), Golden Hair will be lost forever.

The story is propelled along by a series of generic, but very welcome characters. There’s the king, his evil traitorous family member who desires the thrown, an evil witch, a helpful gnome, a friendly bear, and our protagonist the perfect orphan.  It may sound dull, but at a brisk 74 minutes the characters are quickly established and serve their purpose well. The running time does however mean that we are dragged along at a restless pace where many scenarios seem inconsequential. When our hero, Sonja (Zeiner) needs to scale up a mountain, she meets a kind bear, the film then skips their journey and the next scene is Sonja getting off the bear and saying goodbye. Such quick snippets will still delight a younger audience, who may not be as concerned with structure and cohesion.

The film’s main strength, as it should be for Christmas films, is its beauty. Every shot, every landscape, every costume, is a miraculous construction of either nature, computer imagery, or hard work. Castles sit atop snow covered mountains in breathtaking shots that are so inviting you yearn to be in such a locale while watching. The costumes are also very distinctive and help towards creating a world outside the film itself. Even Santa is given a slightly new spin. The actors filling these costumes are also great, at least in terms of facial expressions and screen presence, as unfortunately this release does not offer the original language track. The dubbing is abysmal at times, not so much for line delivery, but because the voices sound omnipresent and never seem as though they are coming from the characters themselves. It may be for kids, but this decision will upset many foreign film fans who want to experience the beauty of the language as well as the beauty of the visuals. For some, this will be a deal breaker, and it’s something that can’t be ignored.

Aside from the painful choice of dubbing over subtitles, there is still much to enjoy in JOURNEY TO THE CHRISTMAS STAR. The best parts are often those that speak volumes without dialogue anyway, such as the orchard of Christmas trees, where everybody has their own tree and its condition reflects our inner spirits. There’s also a high speed chase through the North Wind that highlights the director’s clear confidence when dealing with effects. A magnificent family feature, which captures the true spirit of Christmas while offering up an original story. Next time, give us the original language.

4 StarsJOURNEY TO THE CHRISTMAS STAR is released on DVD on 18th November via Metrodome.


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Luke likes many things, films and penguins being among them. He's loved films since the age of 9, when STARGATE and BATMAN FOREVER changed the landscape of modern cinema as we know it. His love of film extends to all aspects of his life, with trips abroad being planned around film locations and only buying products featured in Will Smith movies. His favourite films include SEVEN SAMURAI, PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, IN BRUGES, LONE STAR, GODZILLA, and a thousand others.

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