Archive for December 13th, 2010

We’re in that time of the year when seasonal films extolling the virtues of Christmas usually appear.  Films like Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life,  and White Christmas are among the many.  But this year there is a new and different take on one of the traditional myths behind the season, Santa Claus.  It’s a film from Finland titled Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale which has a story that concerns itself  with the Nordic traditions of Sinterklaas set in a modern Finnish setting.

San Francisco Examiner movie reviewer Pamela Alexander-Beutler starts her review of the film with this  brief description of the myth behind the premise of the film: “Once upon a time in pre-Christian nordic mythology Sinterklaas is accompanied by ‘Zwarte Pieten’ (Black Petes). During the Middle-ages Zwarte Piet was a name for the devil. Later in Alpine regions of the North, these characters became known as St. Nicholas and Krumpus. Children were told that if they were pure of heart and lived without sin, St. Nicholas would bestow gifts and treats on them in December. But if they were bad the demonic Krampus would punish them. Arcane images often show Krampus with a basket or sack on his back carrying bad children away and dumping them into the pits of Hell.”

Basically, the story has to do with the discovery during an archaelogical dig of sorts and the capture of the real Sinterklaas, who is a darker and more sinister version than the jovial Santas we grew up with.  We might not be too thrilled about this guy shimmying down our chimney.  The film has gotten very good reviews so far and is opening in large cities around the country but, as Alexander-Beutler points out, this no film for children.

Here’s the trailer:

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