The Year Without a Santa Claus

“The Year Without a Santa Claus” is a 1974 American stop motion “puppet” film produced by the legendary duo Rankin & Bass. The film is based on the children’s book by the same name written by Phyllis McGinley and illustrated by Kurt Werth.

This film has that old-time American charm which I just love! It is made in a time when filmmaking was not only about people pleasing and money making, but rather about creativity, art and a desire to bring something of real value to the world. I love the artistry in these old stop motion movies, like how beautifully the puppets are made, how the colors are true to the 1950s fashion ( The book was published in 1956) and the whimsical design of the Christmas tree decorations.

The story is not super impressive, but that is not the point of this movie. The charm lies in the yesteryear’s Christmas atmosphere, the sweet songs we all know and love, and in the creativity of the homemade sceneries where you can actually recognize the different materials used to transform little trinkets into movie magic.

I, as many of you know, love everything vintage, and this movie is no exception. My favorite part of the film is towards the end when Santa Claus arrives in the little town with his sleigh and presents to the tunes of “Santa Claus is coming to town”. It can’t get more Christmassy than that! ❤️🤶🏻🎅🏼❤️.

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Trollhunter

Trollhunter is a Norwegian indie film from 2010 directed by Andre Øverdal. This film has already been given a Cult status in Norway. Mind you, this is not a movie for children, even though I would have loved it as a child, but its target audience is teens and adults.
It is filmed in a mock documentary style, a little like Blair Witch Project, and is a presentation of footage filmed by a group of young journalists. The actors in the film are all unknown, except for the trollhunter himself, and it adds to the feeling of it being a documentary. The film is not really scary at all, it’s more funny, especially if you have some pre-knowledge about Norwegian culture and Norwegian trolls. And the trolls themselves are just awesome!

The movie is about a team of students studying to become journalists who set out to make a documentary about this crazy man who claims that he is a trollhunter. The trollhunter is fed up by the government who conceals all traces of trolls, and he wants the public to know what is really going on in the Norwegian forests. Following is a hilarious and brilliant chase, where we get to know a lot about trolls and how they can still be alive!

What I love the most about this film is how thoroughly all the facts are explained, like why the trolls burst in sunlight, what they eat and how they live, all explained by a veterinarian troll expert! I love the descriptions of the different types of trolls, and I love how amazingly brilliant the trolls actually look on screen.

This movie might not be everyone’s cup of tea, as it is VERY Norwegian, but if you like to learn more about other cultures, folklore and the supernatural, then this movie is definitely for you, and I highly recommend it! I would say the movie can be seen by kids from 13 and up, but it depends on the child. I would not have found this movie disturbingly scary as a child, but all children are different. I’d say, if the child enjoys Jurassic Park, he or she can definitely watch this movie. 😊

Of course, five out of five stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

For younger kids, or for all kids of all ages, I would recommend the Dreamworks/ Netflix Series “Trollhunters”. It is an animated series that is, I can’t help but think, slightly inspired by the Norwegian Trollhunter. The storyline is brilliant and the animation awesome!

The Christmas Dragon

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The Christmas Dragon is an American Christmas Fairytale Film from 2014. The film was released directly on DVD and it is not your typical ginormous budget Hollywood movie. It is a rather small film, but with a huge heart, lovely storytelling and wonderful child actors. The plot is your typical “save-the-magic-of-Christmas” plot, but it adds dragons, elves, goblins and child snatchers into the mix, and that makes it so wonderfully different!

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In the opening scene we are witness to the killing of Ayden’s (our Heroine) parents by a dragon. Six years later we meet her again, now the resident of an orphanage. One day Ayden ventures into the forest, and there she meets an elf who gives her a magic crystal, a compass that will help her save the magic of Christmas. As soon as the crystal leaves the elf’s hands he turns into a dark goblin. Meanwhile the children in the orphanage who have come of an age are being sold to the highest bidder to meet their destiny as slaves in the mines. Ayden convinces some of her friends to come with her on her quest to save the magic of Christmas and put an end to the dark times in the village. Ahead lies an adventure none of them could have expected where what the children thought of as their enemies become their most valuable helpers.

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I love this film wholeheartedly! It is sweet, magical and inspires the imagination to come up with lovely new universes! Yes, the special effects aren’t very good, but some of the sets are absolutely beautiful, and the children are such good actors! If had seen this film as a kid I would enacted the story in make-believe games over and over again, and probably made up my own stories set in the same universe. I will say though, that I think the film would have worked better as a TV series, I say this only because it would have reached a broader audience, and the fairy tale thrill of it would have allowied each episode to end on a cliffhanger which would have made it even more popular. But anyway, regardless of other reviewers, I loved the film and have already watched it twice!

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I absolutely recommend this sweet fairy film to children and adults alike!
Of course, five out of five stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The BFG

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The BFG is a family fantasy film from 2016 directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg and based on the famous children’s book with the same name by Roald Dahl.
The BFG was one of my favorite books when I was very small, and I also love the animated British film adaptation of the book from 1989, so my expectations were..well, to be honest, I kind of expected to be disappointed. I feared that the screenplay had strayed too much from the original manuscript, and that the computerized special effects would spoil the magic of the story rather than add to it. But, to my great relief, I was pleasantly surprised.

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The film shows a great attention to detail, the backdrops of the scenes are filled with little things to feast your eye on. The special effects, even though quite obviously computerized, are not exaggerated or done slobbishly. But the one who stole my heart in the film is the outstanding performance of little Ruby Barnhill who plays the orphaned Sophie, the heroine of the story. She makes the film beautifully charming and is the perfect little Sophie.

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My favorite scenes are the Dream catching scene in Dream country and the breakfast scene with the queen in Buckingham Palace. Dream Country has been designed beautifully, both magical and mystical and very artistic. The breakfast with the queen is hilarious and has been given the time and necessary dialogue to create the same charming silliness as in the book.

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Some critics have mentioned, adult critics, that nothing happens in the film and that it is dull. That is exactly what I love about it. I was afraid that the catching of the Giants would be made into this big violent action scene stealing the film completely, but it hasn’t. It has been allowed to stay as small and funny as Roald Dahl wrote it. The film is not dull, but the magic, artistry and charm win over the action, and that is exactly how it is supposed to be.

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There are a few deviations from the book. Most of them are small and insignificant, and does not take anything away from the story, but, and this is a big but in my book, the ending is all wrong. Sophie is supposed to go and live with the the BFG! To me, that is the whole point, that she chooses a small life with the father figure she has come to love over a rich luxurious life with the queen. The ending gave me a bitter aftertaste, even though I still will say I loved the film.

So all in all, a big fat thumbs-up for The BFG. I highly recommend this movie to kids, families, and adults with a childlike mind and a big imagination (like me! 😄)

Image Credit: All the images are stills from the 2016 movie, The BFG

Kiki’s Delivery Service

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Kiki’s Delivery Service is a Japanese fantasy children’s movie from 2014. The story is about a 13 year old witch who has to leave her parents to find a place for herself in the world. Kiki’s talent is her flying ability, and with the help of a bakery owner and a boy who dreams of flying, Kiki starts her own express delivery service. But it’s not all the inhabitants of the quaint little town Kiki has adopted as her new home, who feels the same way about witches. A rumor is spread, claiming that Kiki delivers curses, not parcels and letters, and Kiki slowly loses her confidence in herself, and as her self-belief declines, so does her magic… Will Kiki be able to find her way back to her magic? Or is her fate to live as an ordinary girl? The problem with ordinary is that Kiki doesn’t even know how to ride a bike!

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I loved this sweet little movie! The pace of the film is a bit slow, and the action will mostly excite quite small children, but what I loved were the details! The little whimsical shops, the blue and white wind mill Kiki lives in, the colorful vintage inspired clothes, the veterinarian who lives in the jungle and brews coffee in laboratory flasks, the tiny be-flowered streets with odd vintage shop signs, and the charming quirky inhabitants. I could feast my eyes on these little details forever and ever, wishing I was a witch living in that town! 😊😊.

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I highly recommend this film, especially to little kids, older children and adults might enjoy the animated version of this film produced by studio Ghibli in 1989 better. But I found this version enchanting!

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The Secret of Roan Inish

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The Secret of Roan Inish is an Irish adventure/ family film from 1994 about a girl who has lost her little brother at sea. He is believed to be drowned, but when our little heroine Fiona hears the legend of the Selkies, she is convinced otherwise.

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The abandoned island of Inish Roan holds a secret, it is where the Selkies (half human half seal) is believed to live. One day Fiona and her cousin Eamon borrow their grandfather’s rowing boat and they head out to sea to investigate the mysterious island. And they are not disappointed…

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I loved this quiet introverted film, the pace is slow and there are no flashy colors or special effects, but that is exactly the charm of the movie! It tells a fairy story, but it makes it look so real and every-day-like that you can’t help believe in the legend of the Selkies. I love the “Irishness” of the film, and all the actors are just wonderful!

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The Secret of Roan Inish is filmed in beautiful Donegal in Ireland, and the landscape is a calming treat for the eye as well. 😊

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I don’t know if this is characterized as a children’s movie, but adults might even love it more. As I mentioned, the pace is slow, so I don’t know if today’s children will enjoy it, but you can always give it a go! 😊😊

I highly recommend this beautiful film!