Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Movie Review: Christmas Story (2007)

Christmas Story (Joulutarina) 
Starring: Hannu-Pekka Björkman, Otto Gustavsson, Kari Väänänen, Minna Haapkylä, Mikko Leppilampi, Mikko Kouki, Laura Birn, Antti Tuisku, Matti Ristinen, Ville Virtanen, Matti Rasilainen, Mauri Heikkilä, Oskari Heimonen, Pirjo Leppänen, Saara Pakkasvirta, Jonas Rinne, Mikko Rokka, Roi Ron, Nella Siilasmaa, Alpo Sipilä, Lisa Sjöholm, Eeva Soivio
Director: Juha Wuolijoki 
Scarpe Diem Productions, Snapper Films Oy, Finland, 2007. 
A boy named Nikolas (Jonas Rinne) lives in Lapland, Finland hundreds of years ago. He makes Christmas presents for his sister Aada. Aada is ill so her parents Einari (Matti Ristinen) and Aleksandra (Eeva Soivio) must take her to a doctor. However they never return. The villagers are poor but every family will house orphaned Nikolas for an year, starting with Kristiina (Minna Haapkylä) and Hannus (Mikko Leppilampi). Every Christmas Nikolas makes presents for the children of his foster families and delivers them at night. 
Jonas Rinne and Matti Ristinen
Young Nikolaus and his father Einari
The village
Minna Haapkylä and Mikko Leppilampi
Kristiina and Hannus
When famine hits the village, only a grumpy carpenter Iisakki (Kari Väänänen) can afford to house Nikolas (now Otto Gustavsson). Iisakki is harsh and does not like children. However Iisakki teaches Nikolas the professional skills of carpenter. 
Otto Gustavsson)
A bit older Nikolaus
Kari Väänänen
Carpenter Iisakki
wooden piggy
A toy pig made by Nikolaus
As Nikolas grows older (Hannu-Pekka Björkman) he continues making Christmas presents and his friend Eemeli (Mikko Kouki) helps him deliver them. It is also revealed why Santa needs red suit and uses reindeer. As no-one sees Nikolas delivering the presents, legends and stories are born. Eemeli's daughter Aada (Nella Siilasmaa as child, Laura Birn as adult) and Mikko (Antti Tuisku) help Nikolas continue the tradition. 
Iisakki's cabin and workshop
Mikko Kouki
Laura Birn and Hannu-Pekka Björkman
Eemeli's daughter Aada and Nikolaus delivering the presents
The movie tells about the childhood of Santa Claus (so it could be also named as Santa Claus: Origins). The movie tells a warm and touching story. It is a story where fear of losing someone you love is also part of love. Nikolas grieves the loss of his family and sister and spends his life as a hermit making presents to others. The story is not directly based on the historical roots of Father Christmas -myth but it is rather a neo-mythological adaptation. The snowy sceneries are beautiful. The movie includes many of the most popular Finnish actors of the present and also a very popular Finnish pop singer Antti Tuisku. The Finnish DVD is available with English and Swedish subtitles. There is also English dubbed American release with voice cast including John Turturro and Noah Emmerich. The movie is mainly filmed in Utsjoki and partly in Turku (my hometown!). The movie won also awards, two Finnish Jussi-awards (Best Cinematography and People's Choice Award) and also Audience Award in Sarasota Film Festival.

Rating: Very good

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