Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 50th Anniversary Blu-ray Review
The fact that RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (1964) exists at all is kind of a strange story. Did you know the character was invented for a children’s coloring book to be sold at Montgomery Ward stores, in 1939? The book, written by Robert L. May, went on to become their best selling Christmas children’s coloring book and spawned this television movie, songs, feature films… it’s all kind of unbelievable given that Rudolph is just accepted by today’s culture as part of the traditional Christmas/Santa Claus lexicon.
In an attempt to capture some of the magic, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER was presented on broadcast television in 1964. The stop-motion animated film took great care and still looks pretty good today on Blu-ray though it is showing signs of age. The fact that the movie was originally intended for 19 inch screens or smaller is certainly obvious when you watch it on any 30+ inch HDTV. And sadly this 50th Anniversary Blu-ray edition of RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER leaves the viewer feeling like something is lacking.
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER tells the story of the reindeer we all know and love with the shiny red nose. Before he was accepted as one of Santa’s nine reindeer, Rudolph was an outcast (or in ‘60’s parlance, a misfit). Rudolph, with his shiny red nose, isn’t accepted by his father Donner, by the other reindeer children, or by Santa. He’s raised and taught to hide his condition but Raised hiding his ‘condition’, Rudolph is outed while attempting to learn to fly and runs away. There he meets a similarly-misfit elf named Hermey who doesn’t want to make toys, he wants to be a dentist. The two misfits then go on an adventure where they encounter an island filled with unwanted toys, a prospector, and even an abominable snow monster.
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER tries to be a story with a message but the message is pretty muddied until the very end of the movie. Even then the message of acceptance could easily be mistaken for ‘accept them if their useful to you’. I’m sure I have watched this over 10 times but I was still surprised at the sour taste the movie leaves in my mouth after watching it. The viewer is also constantly reminded that RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER was made and released in the 1960’s thanks to the outmoded thoughts and ideals presented constantly in the television feature. For instance the way Santa treats the elves or the way everyone responds to Rudolph; this type of bullying would not be acceptable in today’s society.
In all, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER is a disappointing film for anyone who hasn’t viewed it in some time. But at least it’s a 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition, right? It must come with some cool extra features, right? Sadly no. The minimal special features are boring and don’t give much information. The HD transfer is serviceable but the format itself is distracting on HD televisions. And the story is based on a moral compass that no longer exists (at least not in my world). All of these things make RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER the type of movie I wish I hadn’t shown my children. I don’t recommend it.
Video: (1080p Full-screen 1.33:1) As I stated in the movie review RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER is starting to show signs of age. HD televisions don’t do any favors for movies this old and while mostly the images are clear they are far from the quality we’ve come to expect.
Audio: (English Dolby Digital 5.1) The audio track is also outdated and the source material is a bit fuzzy on RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER.
Rudolph Pop Up Book (02:47) Someone does a bad Burl Ives impression and tells the story7 as a digital pop up book. It’s a neat concept for RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER but like the movie is a bit disappointing.
Holly Jolly Sing Along (01:21) RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER features a sing-along version of this Christmas classic.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Sing Along (00:52) Another incredibly short extra, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER features the title song in sing-along/karaoke fashion.
Learn to Draw – Dreamworks offers some simple ways to draw some of the characters from RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER in demos so kids can learn to draw the characters. Featured in 4 parts: Intro (01:13); Rudolph (11:13); Hermey (11:31); Abominable Snow Monster (09:24).
Rudolph Unwrapped (16:41) Designed like an advent calendar counting off 50 little factoids about RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER. Sorry they weren’t more interesting. This one gets boring after about 3, and after 20 it’s just unbearable.