Forgotten Films: Terry Pratchett’s HOGFATHER (2006)
This is the 3rd in my series of Forgotten Obscure or Neglected Films
This week’s film is relatively unknown in the US, though it is based on a very popular series of fantasy novels. With the success of the Harry Potter and Narnia films, you would have thought that this one might at least have gotten a decent network showing. But, no, it was dumped onto some of the lesser cable networks and DVD bins. So, I am going to assume that some, but not all of you, are familiar with the Discworld, that strange planetoid which is generally aptly named, a disc sitting atop the back if four elephants atop the giant turtle Attu who swims through the vastness of space. The Discworld shares many elements with our world, except that it is sillier in many ways and it provides Sir Terry Pratchett, OBE, with a palette on which to address human foibles and customs.
In this story, the head of the Assassin’s Guild is approached and offered a lot of money to undertaking the death of the legendary Hogfather. On the Discworls, the winter solstice is celebrated with a ritual involving the giving of presents. The embodiment of that season (and much more) is the Hogfather, who is responsible for the rising of the sun. On Hogswatch, we traverses the Discworld in a sleigh pulled by wild boars and delivers presents to good boys and girls.
The assassination is assigned by Mr. Teatime (pronounced tee-at-im-ay, not the normal way) who is one creepy little character played with gusto by Marc Warren. Death (voiced by Ian Richardson) begins to notice that something is not right with his world and begins to look into the Hogfather. The Hogfather is a creature of legend and thereby immortal by Mr. Teatime has found away to break that problem and it involves the Tooth Fairy. Death decides the Hogfather must deliver Hogswatch presents and if he is unable to do it, Death himself with don the suit and take the sled and deliver presents. Death cannot interact in the Hogfather’s realm so he contacts his granddaughter Susan (played by Michelle Dockery) who can go there and do things. Look at the poster. Susan is the one with the tall white hair and black streak. Normally she works as a governess of two small children but she decides to go based on her grandfather’s fears.
There are lots of fun passages throughout the film. The scene where Death as the Hogfather shows up at a department store and gives all the children there whatever they want to the chagrin of the manager is pretty funny. No one really wants to challenge a free giving skeleton in front of kids and parents. And Teatime and his band of helpers tearing through the Tooth Fairy’s castle, stealing the teeth is pretty fun as are the scenes at the Unseen University where the wizards seem to be inventing imaginary figures/gods.
The film was originally presented on the BBC in two parts and the DVD runs to just about three hours. Like the similar but vastly different THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, this is a fun seasonal film. It works better if you have some knowledge of Pratchett and the Discworld than if you come in cold. There are other films in the series including THE COLOR OF MAGIC, based on the first Discworld book, which I hope to get to some time soon.
Here are the pertinent details (courtesy of imdb):
Michelle Dockery Susan/The Death of Rats (a short but hilarious role)
Ian Richardson Death (voice only)
David Jason Albert
Marc Warren Teatime
David Warner Lord Downey
Director Vadim Jean
Writers : Vadim Jean based on Terry Pratchett’s nove
lI have watched this twice now and enjoyed it both times. It might be a good addition to your holiday viewing traditions.
Series organizer Todd Mason hosts more Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.