Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)

IMDb plot summary: An outcast donkey in Roman era Judea with overlong ears finds his destiny on the way to Bethlehem.
Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr. Starring Roger Miller and Brenda Vaccaro.

This is the conversation my fiance and I had at the end of the movie:

Me: So this is pretty much exactly Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Him: But with more awful death.
Me: And completely unexplained resolution.
Him: Yup.

It's rather weird how *wrong* this whole movie is. Its story itself isn't bad - a donkey with freakishly long ears turns out to be the one chosen to carry Mary and the as-yet-unborn baby Jesus to Bethlehem - but everything about the execution was just wrong. Nestor's story is far more awful and cruel at the beginning than fits in a children's movie (for example, his mother freezes to death while lying on top of him to keep him warm), and then it gets ridiculously cheerful for no reason. A cherub shows up, they go skipping through ponds for awhile, he carries baby Jesus with the help of his magically long ears, and then he returns to the stable he came from and... everybody is celebrating him now. Even though they would have no way of knowing that he had done anything special. At all. It's all very weird and very false and certainly not one of the better Rankin & Bass Christmas specials. 1.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1626 out of 1930, below New in Town and above My Friend Irma.

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