Tag Archive: Hogfather


Most of the Twitter quotes for the past week have been from Hogfather, a Terry Pratchett book that satirizes (among other things) the commercialization of Christmas.

Actually the Hogfather, like a good many of the things we connect with Christmas, is associated with the winter solstice, which is today. Here in Alaska, it’s 8:30 this evening; if you live on the East Coast it’s 12:30 tomorrow morning. The book has been made into a DVD, which I reviewed yesterday. Happy southern Solstice!

“Three million dollars could buy a lot of no questions.” Thoughts of Downey, the head of the Assassins’ Guild, when the auditors offer that amount to get rid of the Hogfather (the Discworld’s equivalent of Santa Claus.)

“Everything starts somewhere, though many physicists disagree.” The opening sentence of Hogfather, though unless this is a reference to the old steady-state universe theory, now pretty well debunked, I’m not sure why the physicists would disagree.

“Real children don’t go hoppity-skip unless they are on drugs.” Susan Sto Helit, rebuking Gawain for stepping on the cracks to bring the bears so she can go after them with the nursery poker.

“Education had been easy. Learning things had been harder.” Susan, considering her past life and education.

“Wizards wouldn’t be wizards if they couldn’t see a little way into the future.” In this particular case, the wizards of Unseen University are apprehensive, with good reason, about the hangover cure being mixed by Mustrum Ridcully in hopes of curing the oh god of hangovers.

“Clever isn’t the same as sensible.” Susan to the oh god of hangovers, after she has said that the wizards of some of the cleverest men in the world.

“Idiocy is not a communicable disease.” Ridcully’s comment on the idea that Hex (the Unseen University computer) might have caught something from the burser (who is more than usually unusual mentally.) In fact Hex is confused by something done by Death, who is filling in for the Hogfather.

“Freedom came even before survival.” Bowling, Tourist Trap. Roi is commenting on Timi’s mindset, and how it differs from his own.

Hogfather: DVD Review

“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?