Christmas: Why You Need to Watch ‘Klaus’ This Christmas

Official poster art for ‘Klaus’. Copyright goes to Netflix Animation, The SPA Studios, and Atresmedia Cine.

Hey! Hallie here!

Recently my family realized we burned through most of our must-watches for Christmas. Which means trying out new movies! I had heard only amazing things about this movie but kept forgetting about it each time Christmas rolled around. I’m so happy I remembered it this year, and I’m also extremely mad at myself for not remembering to watch it before. This is, quite honestly, one of the best Christmas movies I’ve ever seen and an excellent animated film in its own right. It’s unique, heartwarming, gorgeous to look at, and packs a surprising amount of emotional moments. Unlike my other posts of this type, this isn’t a review. I don’t have any criticisms to talk about to give this a typical liked/disliked format. So instead, I’m going to use this post to convince anyone who hasn’t given ‘Klaus’ a shot yet to take a chance on it this Christmas. It’s insanely good and it’s a shame that there are people who haven’t seen it yet.

The Story Is Original:

The story for ‘Klaus’ seems generic at first. It’s another Santa origin story, which we’ve seen in many Christmas movies before. But ‘Klaus’ is so much more imaginative than I expected. First, our main character isn’t the character of Klaus, but a postman named Jesper. Jesper’s sent to a village called Smeerensburg to send 6000 letters or else be cut off by his father who’s been funding his lavish lifestyle. But Smeerensburg is a delightfully ominous village made up of two warring family clans who spend all their time either playing potentially deadly pranks on one another, or outright fighting each other with sharp weapons. Then the character of Klaus is introduced, a lonesome woodsman who has hundreds of toys in his possession and, despite his scary appearance, immediately turns adorably emotional at the idea of giving the toys away to children who appreciate them. As the film goes on we get a cleverly thought out story made up of completely unique characters that slowly unfolds into the origins of sending letters to Santa. And beyond just giving us one origin story, ‘Klaus’ introduces crazy events, fun misunderstandings, and quick remarks Jesper makes himself that fill in other pieces of the classic Santa Claus stories we all know and love. The movie also takes its time to drive home its message about how easily acts of good will spread from person to person. Both the village and the characters change over the course of the movie simply because of selflessness, but the movie makes these moments of change both gradual and believable rather than beating the audience over the head with the message. ‘Klaus’ perfectly balances well known stories with original messages and ideas, and in the process becomes its own beautifully crafted classic.

The Characters Are Lovable:

‘Klaus’ is surprisingly deeply character driven for a Christmas movie. Jesper, our main character, made me immediately think of Kuzco from ‘Emperor’s New Groove’. He’s very spoiled and full of himself, but in a way that’s hilarious rather than irritating. As a result of his spoiled nature though, his initial motives aren’t honorable. He approaches getting children to send letters to Klaus as a clever ploy, exchanging toys for a ticket back to his life of luxury. He doesn’t care about the children getting toys, or that Klaus gets any sort of fulfillment giving the toys away. But beyond the surface of his selfishness is an aimlessness. He doesn’t see a future for himself and so he isn’t passionate about doing anything in particular aside from enjoying a materialistic life. It’s really nice not just to see this character begin to care about others aside from himself, but begin to see a direction for himself where he feels like his actions have purpose. Klaus is a similarly interesting character. At first he doesn’t even speak. It takes him a long time to warm up enough to Jesper to begin having conversations with him. And when he does, he has past trauma that makes it easy for one wrong move from Jesper to send him back into his shell. But that makes the unraveling of this character and his backstory that much more rewarding. Along with these two main characters we also get characters like Alva, a school teacher who, when she’s introduced, is selling fish because she’s given up on her dream of teaching. Her entire storyline involves her rediscovering her love of teaching, which in turn becomes inspiration for Jesper. And then there’s Margu, a little girl who doesn’t speak English but manages to be the heart of the film despite the language barrier between herself and the other characters. There isn’t a character you don’t adore once the film ends, and I’ll be thinking about them even after Christmas is over.

The Animation is Gorgeous:

I took one look at the animation style of this movie and knew that I wanted to watch ‘Klaus’. This film is one of the only traditionally animated films we’ve seen among recent major releases. 3D animation has dominated animated movies recently, but my favorite art styles for these movies have always been 2D. I was ecstatic when I saw that this movie was 2D, but beyond just that, it has a unique look to it. This movie uses volumetric lighting which allows for a more realistic change of a color on each character dependent on lighting and scenery, as well as other computer techniques that add depth to the look of the animation. The result is something that feels as magical and personal as hand-drawn animation, but with the fluidity of 3D animation. The characters have pretty, storybook-like designs with hilarious expressions, but they also have a depth to them that goes beyond typical hand-drawn animation. The scenery is dramatic and vast, all while keeping the look of an illustration in a Christmas book. And all of it boasts gorgeous colors. Though we spend most of the movie in Smeerensburg, where the main colors are gray and white, we still get places like the forest around Klaus’ home where light streams through the trees and gives a golden glow to the multicolored birds in the branches. And the characters themselves bring their own color to the movie, whether it’s the blues and yellows we see on Jesper, or the bright reds Margu and Klaus show off. ‘Klaus’ is, without question, a gorgeous film. I really hope we see more mainstream films going back to at least some hand-drawn animation because ‘Klaus’ only makes me want more.

In other words, make this a priority within the next two days. You won’t regret it. You might cry in front of your family. The end of this movie is a bit of a tearjerker. But it’s all because of the amazing story this movie tells. ‘Klaus’ is a triumph among Christmas movies. It manages to be something you’ve seen before told so differently that it’s nothing like anything you’ve seen before. And all of that aside, this movie is just an aesthetically pleasing movie to look at. Watching ‘Klaus’ is definitely going to be a holiday tradition for me and my family, and I hope those of you who haven’t watched it will find the same amount of appreciation for it as we did.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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