The other evening I watched part of the movie, “Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer” with my daughter. It brought back memories. I saw it when it first came out, way back in 1964. It was an event back then, for it was in color. We didn’t have a color TV back then. Most of my friends didn’t have a color TV. But there was one family in the neighborhood that had a color TV and they invited the whole block over. A hoard of us kids crowed into their living room, sitting on the floor in front of the television, rooting for the misfit reindeer as he fought with rejection and battled the evil abominable snowman. To a kid, it was scary. I have to smile the other night as I watched the terrifying parts. It doesn’t seem nearly as scary or nearly as real it did back then.
I’ve been cynical when I’ve thought about this show. After all, Rudolph was created for a 1939 advertising campaign for Montgomery Wards. It looks like the character might stick around longer the institution that created it. I know there are some who think there’s a major onslaught against Christmas in our culture and in some ways, they should use the character of Rudolph and this movie in particular as an example. After all, there’s nothing in the movie about the birth of a Savior. But watching a part of the show again, as a middle-aged adult, I’ve reconsidered my position and realize that I may have been a bit harsh. Yes, it is true that the movie takes the focus off Christ and places it in the North Pole. But Christ-like values are seen throughout the film. The misfits find a place to fit in. You have an elf that wants to be a dentist, a reindeer with a bright red nose, toys that are exiled on an island as misfits. In the movie, they all find a place. The dentist elf pulls the teeth of the feared abominable snowman. Rudolph’s nose allows Santa to fly in inclement weather. The misfit toys find homes. And even the feared abominable snowman becomes tame and is able to help out, decorating Santa’s large tree without a ladder. There’s a place for everyone. Yeah,, it’s a kid’s movie, but it’s also a movie about redemption which is at the heart of the Christian message.