Pros: new Santa Claus story; elements of folklore; humor; classic animation; voice acting Cons: background music, sounds out of place “Klaus” / Klaus
Directed by Sergio Pablos
Voiced by Jason Schwartzman (Jasper), Jonathan K. Simmons (Klaus), Rashida Jones (Alva), Joan Cusack (Mrs. Crum), Will Sasso (Mr. Ellingbo), Norm MacDonald (Boatman Mongens), Neda Magrette Labba (Margu) and etc.
Companies The SPA Studios, Aniventure, Atresmedia Cine
Year of release 2019
The cartoon offers its own version of the legend of how Santa Claus came to be, and shows why he took on the labor-intensive task of delivering gifts in the first place. The story is extremely interesting for another reason: contrary to expectations, the main storyline is devoid of fantastic elements. Therefore, a flying reindeer team is more of an absurd accident than a magic trick.
The cartoon begins at the Royal Postal Academy. The postmaster general’s patience is tested by his son Jasper, accustomed to a rich and idle life. Instead of studying, the heir prefers to relax in silk beds and enjoy delicacies. To end this, his father sends him to work in the distant city of Smeerensburg, where Jasper must organize the postal service.
Such a task becomes a real problem for the main character. Firstly, Smeerensburg turns out to be a cold and uncomfortable haven. Secondly, the city’s residents are divided into two warring clans. They devote all their energy to petty machinations and, naturally, do not waste time on communication through correspondence. Jasper has no hope that he will be able to complete the job and leave the hated city. Everything changes when the guy meets a sullen carpenter named Klaus, who lives in the forest.
The creator of the cartoon is Spanish animator Sergio Pablos. Most likely, his name is not as recognizable as Pablos’ creations. Few people know that it was Sergio who came up with the idea for the Despicable Me franchise, which brought good profits to Universal Pictures. Previously, he worked in animation for Walt Disney Pictures, recreating the stories of Tarzan and Hercules.
When Sergio Pablos was thinking about an alternative history of Santa Claus, he decided not to resort to computer graphics, preferring hand-drawn animation. Despite his good reputation, Pablos could not find either investors or distributors for the new project for a long time. This prompted him to found his own animation company, and the ubiquitous Netflix came to Sergio’s aid, which generously financed the cartoon (interestingly, this happened during the same period when Netflix took on Martin Scorsese’s drama The Irishman, which was rejected by other companies).
Classic animation really has a right to life, moreover, it can easily compete with cartoons that offer overly realistic characters. However, it is hardly possible to do without new techniques. Understanding this, Pablos and his team of animators used volumetric lighting and texturing technology to create the effect of depth in the image. To appreciate this, you need to get used to the style of depiction of the characters and pay attention to the background details.
There are quite a few characters in the cartoon and, oddly enough, the central figure is not Klaus at all, although the story is just about him. But in the thick of things, more often than not, there is a chaotic rich man who finds himself in unusual conditions. The hero’s manner of getting into awkward situations and wittyly accepting failures becomes the basis of the cartoon. This character is well voiced by Jason Schwartzman, whose voice is worth listening to in the original.
The cartoon also features Sami speech, which is deliberately left untranslated. It can be heard from a little girl who is a representative of the Finnish-Ugric people. This gives the story a special element that didn’t even have to be invented – the creators just turned to the colorful Lapland origins.
By the way, the city of Smeerensburg, where the events of the cartoon take place, is not entirely fictional. Rather, this is an exaggerated image of the town of Smeerenburg, which once existed in Norway. To convey the atmosphere of the northern climate that reigns there, the animators use oppressive shades of gray. And when the story develops, rich colors are gradually added to them.
As it should be for every Christmas work, “Klaus” has its own morality and a call to do good deeds. This message doesn’t make you sick, largely because the cartoon shows a down-to-earth version of the appearance of Santa Claus. The main characters are endearing and the jokes are funny. All that remains is to accept the not entirely successful musical accompaniment (here these are modern songs that do not fit the mood), and then the whole family will enjoy the viewing.
so far, Klaus is the best Christmas story released this year. Ideal for family viewing