Olly MacNamee writes
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Pre-Christmas Sales; I don’t know about you but I’m already suffering from the constant bombardment by all media, great and small, that is encouraging us all, at this time of year, to spend, spend, spend! There’s absolutely no getting away from it even for a minute as the public sphere of advertising and promotions find their way into the private spheres of our living rooms through an array of different devices and platforms. Even my local pub has got it’s tree up already.
No, don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and all its crass, kitsch customs, even though many of these have only been around since the Victorian era which saw the introduction and establishment of several rather pagan-originating ‘traditions’ such as the tree and the holly wreath as well as the first Christmas cards (interestingly, these were first printed and posted in the same year as the publication of Dickens’s The Christmas Carol in 1843, while trees were established in the 1870s; hence no sign of one in Dickens’s Christmas themed ghost story). Oh, and don’t forget Boxing Day, either! A rather British tradition that sees all of us here in the UK bask in another additional day off which, bizarrely, has never found its way across to our colonial cousins in the New World. But, like so many of us, the commercialism of the season can be all enveloping.
But, I digress, before I’ve even started.
The point is that while I love Christmas, I also love to rest and unwind without a constant bombardment from the disciples of Mammon. And this is where I can see the use for this rather gentle, mellow DVD first shown on BBC4 last year, All Aboard The Sleigh Ride from Arrow Films. And, it does exactly what it says on the packaging as we, the viewer, are asked to simply watch a 2 hour long journey following the ancient postal routes of the indigenous Scandinavian Sami people across Karasjok, Norway in deep, deep snow.
There’s no incidental music, no narrative voice-over and only the slightest of on-screen displayed text, which, when it does appear, is educational; informing us of the Sami people and their relationship with this harsh environment and their relationship with their reindeers who are ideal for using as transport, fishing (their horns, we learn, are used as makeshift rods) and food. There’s only one fixed camera too! You can’t get more lo-fi than this. It’s mesmerising, as it offers a window into a more ancient, quieter natural world that will find you feeling nostalgic for a culture that you have no relationship to. The unending vistas of snow, the odd person the sleigh-riders meet on their plodding, peaceful journey, and the Aurora Borealis; these are all the makings of the perfect night in with a fire burning and hot chocolate in hand.
The idyllic on disk.
Oh, and it makes a nice change, too, from other more traditional Christmas films like Die Hard. So, maybe it’s time to get back to a more gentle style of Christmas, even for just a couple of hours. Put it on while wrapping presents or mulling wine, or stick it on when visitors come knocking. Either way, this is a DVD that, I think, is best used as an additional festive decoration rather than something you would actually sit down and watch from start
to finish. Something to add to the Christmas feeling, the coziness and contentedness that in Denmark they call ‘hygge’. This then is a slice of hygge; snuggly, soft and on shelves now.
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