Dir: Nils Gaup. Norway. 2012. 77mins
A Christmas children’s fantasy tale aimed fair-and-square at hitting the Norwegian Christmas market, Nils Gaup’s fairy tale (based on a 1924 play by Sverre Brandt) Journey To The Christmas Star may well be rather simplistic and overacted at times, but it features some fine special effects moments and young Vilde Zeiner is a delight as Sonja, the 14 year-old girl who sets off on a quest to find the long-lost Christmas Star.
The film features a suitably fairytale castle and a feisty young heroine, and while playful enough for under 10s, it offers little in the way of movie sophistication.
The film – screened in a dubbed version at the Dubai International Film Festival – has been a hit in Norway, where it has kept Skyfall off the top of the box office chart for several weeks, and while it could sustain a few platform festive releases internationally it is most likely to play on DVD in other territories.
The story – which has been filmed before in 1976 – may well be beloved in its native Norway, but for international audiences the $5million budgeted Journey To The Christmas Star (Reisen Til Julestjernen) is your basic fairy tale structure, packed with Pantomime-style acting, a perky lead performance, a mixed bag of special effects and a fluffy storyline aimed at the very young.
The film opens picture-book style as a series of drawn images tell the story of how the King’s beloved daughter Princess Goldenhair vanished in the dark forest while out searching for the Christmas Star, with the King cursing the Star. Years later legend has it that unless the King finds the Christmas Star before the next Christmas Goldenhair will be lost forever.
Orphan girl Sonja (Vilde Zeiner) hides in the castle to avoid a gang of thieves offers to help the King search for Goldenhair, and sets off on journey to find the Star. She is chased by an evil witch (a sexily stylish Agnes Kittelsen) and a conniving count, but is helped on her quest by forest elves. She rides to the North Pole on the back of a flying giant bear (am impressive special effects sequence), riding on the North Wind.
The film features a suitably fairytale castle and a feisty young heroine, and while playful enough for under 10s, it offers little in the way of movie sophistication. The warm-hearted climax is entirely predictable, but then Journey To The Christmas Star is not about twists and turns, it is about reassuring young ones about fairytale magic.
Production companies: Moskus Film, Storm Rosenberg
International sales: Sola Media, www.sola-media.net
Producers: Sigurd Mikal Karoliussen, Jan Eirik Langøen
Executive producers: Lasse Greve Alsos, Jorgen Storm Rosenberg
Screenplay: Kamilla Krogsveen, based on the play by Sverre Brandt
Cinematography: Odd Reinhardt Nicolaysen
Editor: Per-Erik Eriksen
Main cast: Vilde Zeiner, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Eilif Hellum Noraker, Agnes Kittelsen, Andreas Cappelsen, Jari Goli, Knut Walle