“HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.”

Thus Death says to his granddaughter, Susan Sto Helit, and thus Sir Terence David John Pratchett says in the interview on this DVD. You have to start believing in the little lies, like the Hogfather (Santa Claus) and the Tooth Fairy, in order to believe the big lies, like truth and justice.

The Auditors don’t believe in this. Humans are untidy. Life is untidy. So they plan to get rid of the untidiness, first by getting rid of the Hogfather. To manage this, they engage the Guild of Assassins, who assign the task to one Teatime (Teh-ah-tim-eh, as he keeps correcting people’s pronunciation) who is a little strange, even for an assassin.

The DVD is remarkably close to the book, probably because Terry Pratchett was closely involved with making it. Since the plot involves not only the Hogfather and Teatime, but Death, his granddaughter Susan (especially Susan), the Tooth Fairy and the franchise she runs, the wizards of Unseen University, and an assortment of unlikely creatures such as the oh god of hangovers and the sock-eater, there tends to be a good deal of jumping between scenes.

There are complications, many (and much of the satire on the commercialization of Christmas) coming from Death’s taking over the Hogfather’s job. I particularly enjoy his filling in for the hired Hogfather at the Discworld equivalent of a department store. Then there is the idea that there has to be a certain amount of belief in the world, leading to any personification thought of coming into being once the children’s belief in the Hogfather wavers. But there are serious scenes, too, like the Hogfather, in boar shape, being chased by the Auditors as dogs. (Why not boarhounds, instead of Malinois? And how did the filmmakers manage the boars, either fleeing from the dogs or pulling the sleigh? Are they animated?)

If you like satire and like Pratchett, it’s definitely worth watching. It’s on my watch-every-Christmas list. And, as a challenge to the reader, Pratchett himself is in the movie. I had to check the cast list to find out whom he portrayed. Can you do better?

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