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RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER ($20) was a childhood favorite of every Christmas season, along with FROSTY THE SNOWMAN, THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY and SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN. Of the four, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER is the first to come to DVD, thanks to Sony Wonder and Golden Books Family Entertainment. Additionally, this release also restores all of the footage cut from the program over the years (to add more time for commercial interruptions).

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER first appeared on television in 1964, and embellishes the story told in the lyrics of the famous Johnny Marks song. Santa's lead reindeer Donner, has a new son named Rudolph, who is born with a shiny red nose. Donner tries to hide his son's non-conformity behind a false nose, but the truth about Rudolph soon comes out. Because of his shiny red nose, Rudolph finds himself ostracized and unable to join in any reindeer games. Rudolph then decides to make his own way in the world, leaving his family and the other reindeer behind. While crossing through the arctic wilderness, Rudolph teams up with an elf named Hermey, who is a misfit amongst his own peer group because of his dreams of becoming a dentist. During their travels Rudolph and Hermey encounter prospector Yukon Cornelius, dodge the Abominable Snow Monster and find their way to the Island of Misfit Toys. Eventually, Rudolph discovers that no one can run away from his or her problems, so he returns home. Rudolph finally gains the acceptance of his peers, when Santa asks Rudolph to guide his sleigh through the worst blizzard of the century, which just happens to fall on Christmas Eve. For those only interested in children's videos that provide educational value, this one does fit the bill. RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER teaches children the values of tolerance, although it is a bit blunt in its approach.

Instead of standard cell animation, the Rankin/Bass production of RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER was created using the stop motion technique with three-dimensional figures. The overall effect is very cute and appealing, especially for children, who are certain to enjoy this type of non-puppetry. Adults who grew up on this special will still get a kick out of it. Additionally, after seeing RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER hilariously parodied on MAD TV as RAGING RUDOLPH, my appreciation for the innocence of this Christmas special has since intensified. For those who have never seen this special, Burl Ives tells and sings the story of RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER in the guise of a friendly stop-motion snowman.

The DVD release of RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER is a great improvement over the Laserdisc release from several years ago. This re-mastered edition is cleaner and more detailed than the older version, however it isn't perfect. There are still occasional blemishes on the film elements, which only could be fixed by striking new prints or through heavy-duty digital correction. Children won't notice the flaws and I am willing to overlook them since this isn't exactly the kind of program anyone will ever use to demonstrate the virtues of DVD, or to show off their home theater system. Colors are bright, appealing and well reproduced on this DVD. First rate compression disguises all traces of artifacts.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is clean and will take amplification without distortion. Of course, the soundtrack occasionally shows its age. In a couple of places, the sound seems to slow down for a half a second and then speeds back up to normal. English subtitles are provided on the DVD.

The interactive menus are basic, providing the standard scene selection feature. A trivia game for the kids is also accessible through the interactive menus.

While I certainly enjoyed the DVD incarnation of RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, it would have been nice if an entire Christmas collection could have been released on a single DVD featuring these titles as well: FROSTY THE SNOWMAN, THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY and SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN.


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer



DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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