Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

I’m not fond of Christmas movies, just as I am not fond of most Christmas music. I find It’s a Wonderful Life a bit too cute. And I’ve always wondered what the big deal is about Miracle on 34th Street. (This film pretends to be a parody of the commercialization of Christmas, while subtly endorsing it.) The only Christmas movie I can say that I really enjoyed was A Christmas Story, based on stories by Jean Shepherd, because of its realness and lack of sentimentality.

Leave it to the Finns to come up with a Christmas movie that will put a grin on every Grinch’s face. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, a film by Jalmari Helander, begins with a rich industrialist leading an expedition to drill in the Korvatunturi mountain on the Russo-Finnish border. The industrialist is convinced that the historical Santa Claus is buried here. (If there’s an historical Jesus, why not a historical Santa Claus?) He turns out to be right, but the historical Santa Claus turns out to be different from the one in modern myth. Instead of bringing gifts to good children, he would punish bad ones. The drilling awakens Santa and his army of elves, just as atom bombs awakened Godzilla. Santa’s helpers kill the drillers and proceed to terrorize a local village, until some of the villagers figure out a way to fight back.

Rare Exports starts out as a seemingly serious horror film, but gradually turns into a comedy. I was still laughing when I left the theatre. This film is a good cure for the Chirstmas blues.

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