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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale [Blu-ray]


(Jalmari Helander, 2010)





Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Agnès b. Productions

Video: Oscilloscope Laboratories



Region: FREE (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:22:45.543

Disc Size: 48,800,366,191 bytes

Feature Size: 24,403,451,904 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.98 Mbps

Chapters: 17

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 25th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3566 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3566 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English (SDH), English, none



• The two original short films in which the Christmas tale was born, Rare Exports Inc. (2003 - 7:19) and Rare Exports - The Official Safety Instructions (2005 - 10:51)
The Making of Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (28:21)
“Blood in the Snow” – a look at the concept art (3:09)
Animatics & computer effects video comparison (3:58)
Behind the scenes production stills photo gallery
Original theatrical trailer from Finland
Exclusive to Blu-ray Release:
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) – a cult classic from the Oscilloscope vault featuring Pia Zadora in her first movie role. (1:19:55)

DVD of the feature included in the package





Description: It's the eve of Christmas in northern Finland, and an 'archeological' dig has just unearthed the real Santa Claus. But this particular Santa isn't the one you want coming to town. When the local children begin mysteriously disappearing, young Pietari and his father Rauno, a reindeer hunter by trade, capture the mythological being and attempt to sell Santa to the misguided leader of the multinational corporation sponsoring the dig. Santa's elves, however, will stop at nothing to free their fearless leader from captivity. What ensues is a wildly humorous nightmare – a fantastically bizarre polemic on modern day morality.

RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE is a re-imagining of the most classic of all childhood fantasies, and is a darkly comic gem soon to be required perennial holiday viewing.


A film for those who think they don't believe in Santa Claus anymore...
In the depths of the Korvatunturi mountains, 486 metres deep, lies the closest ever guarded secret of Christmas. The time has come to dig it up!

This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus.

Based on award winning shorts of director Jalmari Helander that have already acquired a cult reputation on the internet.



The Film:

What unfolds is a dark comic thriller and action-hero send-up, a strange alloy of daredevil helicopter maneuvers and night of the living elves. Captured in atmospheric widescreen camerawork, the end-of-the-world frozen landscape (actually Norway) is spectacular and spooky.

Excerpt from The LA Times located HERE

Finnish writer-director Jalmari Helander first explored the dark origins of Father Christmas in a pair of YouTube shorts, Rare Exports Inc and The Official Rare Exports Inc Safety Instructions, which follow skilled trappers in Lapland who hunt wild Santas and train them to be benevolent, child-friendly Christmas icons. This feature-length prequel shows how the business began, and reveals what the feral, naked old men who run wild in the frozen wastes actually are. It’s also an essay in the kind of kid-friendly horror popular in the ’80s (think Gremlins or The Monster Squad), albeit with sub-titles, slaughtered reindeer and plentiful geriatric-male nudity.

Excerpt from Empire Online located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Oscilloscope Laboratories have supplied us with a highly impressive Blu-ray of a wonderful Finnish gem; Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale.  The image quality is solid with excellent contrast supporting healthy detail. This is dual-layered with a very high bitrate and the visuals are very showcasing depth and exhibiting healthy, rich black levels. Colors are bright and true and the frequent darkness has no digital noise encumbrances. The cinematography utilizes some majestic mountain scenery (in Norway) and the 2.35:1 scope maximizes the widescreen effect.  This Blu-ray has no flaws that I could detect - the image is clean and dynamically sharp sporting vibrant, yet un-manipulated colors. Big Thumbs up!
















Audio :

The audio is an equal match to the high-level HD visuals. We get a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a strong 3566 kbps. There are some atmospheric effects creeping stealthily to the rear speakers and a few instances of depth that can shock. There is some original music by Juri and Miska Seppä that is not always festive and the creepy moments are well supported with a haunting quality that sounds fresh and crisp. Excellent rendering. There are optional English and English (SDH) subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE.


Extras :

Aside from the two original short films in which the Christmas tale was born, Rare Exports Inc. (2003 - 7:19) and Rare Exports - The Official Safety Instructions (2005 - 10:51) - both accessible on YouTube last I saw - we get a 1/2 hour The Making of Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale with the director/writer and cast giving soundbytes to behind the scenes preparations. There is a short piece on the creepy concept art aptly entitled “Blood in the Snow” and a cool animatics & computer effects video comparison plus behind the scenes production stills photo gallery, a Finnish trailer and for the Blu-ray only (not the simultaneously released DVD - also included in the BD package) the 1964 ,1 hour 20-minute, dud Santa Claus Conquers the Martians described as 'featuring Pia Zadora in her first movie role' (is that a positive?) It's horribly fun if you can last - but the picture quality is the pits with plenty of damage. Overall, though a great collection of supplements.



I thoroughly enjoyed Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. It, surprisingly for a 'Santa' film, lacks any sentimentality or cloying nature and has some harsh and amusing twists on the Christmas theme. Be sure, this is not for kids under a certain age but the Blu-ray package is a genuinely recommendable Home Theater gem. Sterling image and sound and a multitude of extras. As a nice distraction from the commercialism of the holiday season - give this a spin and put your feet up for some rare adventure-based and highly imaginative amusement. 

Gary Tooze

October 19th, 2011




About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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