All Aboard The Sleigh Ride Arrow Films review Monday 14th November


This Christmas the sleigh ride will never end – Nordic Noir & Beyond is pleased to announce the DVD release of the Slow TV Christmas special ‘All Aboard! The Sleigh Ride’ on Monday 21st November 2016, which was aired last Christmas Eve on BBC Four.

With no commentary, music or presenter – just the crunching of snow and the soft tinkle of a reindeer bell, this hypnotic sleigh ride will be an enchanting experience to put everyone in the Christmas spirit.

‘All Aboard! The Sleigh Ride’ is the perfect stocking stuffer for Christmas 2016!

The above information is from the official release notes, and with a running time of roughly two hours for this DVD, I have to admit that my first thoughts were “do I want to give up two hours of my time for this?, it sounds pretty boring!!  Well I did, and I could not have been more wrong in the first place.

Following a sleigh ride along ancient postal routes with reindeer herders Anne Louise Gaup and Charlotte Issen Mathisen of the semi-nomadic Sami (we only find out their names in the final credits) we get an insight into an ancient culture that somehow has survived into the 21st century and retained not only their way of life, but their connection with the land and the animals around them.  The reindeer are as important to Sami life and culture as the buffalo were to native Americans.

The marketing images for this film are designed to give us that perfect winterland image that many of us imagine to be somewhere at this time of year and that feeling of  perfect Hygge.  There is no literal translation for this word, but roughly translated – living well, living simply and enjoying the company of good friends in a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere.

The scenery and the photography are stunning here and this film has allowed us into an almost magical wonderland and given us a small glimpse into another culture, but underneath the perfect postcard winterland images there is another world here too.  This is a harsh environment to survive in and Sami only survive here by knowing every aspect of their land.  Informative captions through this film give us more information on this, but suffice to say, this is a culture that has over 1,000 words describing the different types of reindeer and over 150 words to describe the different types of ice and snow around them. In a land where the snow stays on the ground for six months of the year and you are so far north that the sun does not rise from late November until January, you need to know exactly what type of landscape you are in to survive in this Nordic twilight world.

Watching this film for two hours is relaxing, and almost hypnotic at times, and I am glad that they made the decision to leave commentary and music out.  The only extra I would have liked would have been some translated captions of what the people in this film are saying as that little extra insight into their world would for me have been nice.

Many people have gone into making this unique film, but camera (Tom Hooker), Sound (Mark Robert), Director of Photography Justin Evans and producer & director Luke Korzun Martin must get a special mention here.

You can enjoy  ‘All Aboard! The Sleigh Ride’ at whatever level you want – just a switch off, relax for two hours or an insight into another culture –or both.

Review by Tom King



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