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  Cosmic Christmas, A Weird Three Kings Of Orient Are
Year: 1977
Director: Clive A. Smith
Stars: Joey Davidson, Martin Lavut, Richard M. Davidson, Duncan Regehr, Patricia Moffatt, Jane Mallett, Marvin Goldhar, Greg Rogers, Chris Wiggins
Genre: Animated, Science Fiction, TV MovieBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Peter (voiced by Joey Davidson) is a young boy in a rural Canadian town who owns a pet goose called Lucy, and with Christmas approaching fast is out on the streets to take in the atmosphere of his community gearing up for the big day. Or that was the idea, but nobody seems to be feeling the Yuletide spirit, especially not local bully Marvin (Greg Rogers) whose gang is trying to wind up Peter when he tells them he has seen a light flying through the evening sky. What, like a spaceship you mean, they taunt him, and he is forced to try asking someone else, but initially it seems as though nobody has noticed this extraterrestrial presence - this, however, is about to change, for there really is something up there.

In 1977, one movie had changed the landscape of entertainment, and you don't need me to tell you that was Star Wars which made science fiction, or a variety of fantasy adventure at any rate, the genre of choice for the film and television makers. Chuck in a robot or a spaceship to your opus and it would, you hoped, be popular by association, so the viewing public were offered such ephemera as this, a combination of Yuletide and some kind of Christianised Close Encounters of the Third Kind affair, which was not out yet but nevertheless was generating some buzz among cinemagoers. This wasn't anything to do with Hollywood, however, as it was one of the first productions from Nelvana.

That was not a distant world sending us communications from across the gulf of space, it was a Canadian animation house which was set up by Clive A. Smith, among others, the director of A Cosmic Christmas. He evidently was set to follow trends, and indeed Nelvana would produce the Star Wars spin-off Droids in the next decade, but this twenty-five minute oddity was apparently intended as a calling card to prove what the nascent company could do; the reaction was positive, in the main, but for others there was something inescapably creepy about the whole affair, its chilly atmosphere, its eerie, dreamlike visuals, and its notes of unease, even before the trio of aliens land in the nearby countryside and practically demand that Peter demonstrate to them the spirit of the season.

He is scared of them at first, before getting used to them, but no wonder, as they move in a strange way, have disquietingly wizened features, and talk with a curious echo on their voices as the obvious signifier of outer space otherness. They have a Star Trek-style Prime Directive where they cannot interfere to prove anything about this thing you Earthlings call Christmas, which makes them ask obtuse questions as they believe the simple presence of the festivities means everyone is nice to one another and everyone receives whatever they always wanted, which is not the case. But it might be this Christmas, as Peter, whose family is far from well-off, meet the aliens who can conjure up decorations from out of thin air, and the climactic drama sees Marvin fall into an icy lake after goosenapping Lucy to kill and eat (charming fare, this). It was supposed to be heartwarming as the whole town woke up to their potential of goodwill, but it was weirdly disquieting instead, and the passage of years and slicker efforts have not rendered it any more endearing. You had to see this at the right age to be nostalgic about it. Music and songs by Susan Tyson.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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