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The Christmas Martian (Canadian International Pictures) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • The Christmas Martian (Canadian International Pictures) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Canadian International Pictures
    Released on: December 19th, 2023.
    Director: Bernard Gosselin
    Cast: Catherine Leduc, François Gosselin, Marcel Sabourin, Guy L'Ecuyer, Roland Chenail, Paul Hébert
    Year: 1971
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Christmas Martian – Movie Review:

    This sixty-five minute Quebecois oddity from 1971, directed by Bernard Gosselin, introduces us to a boy named François (François Gosselin) and his Katou (Catherine Leduc) one day as they’re playing outside in the snow in the small town in la belle province. Soon, they encounter a strange being (Marcel Sabourin) dressed in green mesh and wearing odd eye makeup and who seems to have some sort of ability to create bubbles.

    Intrigued by their new discovery, who promptly robs a small convenience store only to get chased by the local cops, the brother/sister duo starts following him around and eventually find the flying saucer that he’s stashed, which convinces Katou that this being is actually a Martian that can speak English to them after guzzling down an elixir that looks an awful lot like red wine. When the kids discover this, they decide to help the Martian out and see what they can do to get his spaceship repaired so that he can return to his home world, but when the cops find out that the Martian, whose name is ‘Poo Flower,’ has been using candy (candy that looks an awful lot likes Smarties!) to get the kids to go along with him, they rally the local villagers to go out and put a stop to this Martian’s shenanigans... just in time for Christmas!

    "Everybody knows that a Martian can disguise itself into anything, even a llama! The one we met came disguised as a human.... almost!"

    A decidedly strange film that isn’t without its own quirky charm, The Christmas Martian is a pretty breezy watch, quick in its pacing and with enough bizarre moments to keep things entertaining throughout. The acting is hokey and the script ridiculous. The movie was clearly made on a pretty low budget and the effects aren’t ever particularly convincing, but there’s an admittedly charming element to all of this that, despite its many and obvious flaws, makes it hard to dislike. Feeling very much like the product of early seventies Quebec that it is, the movie has plenty of dated fashions and vibes going on, but that just adds to the fun (their Uncle Ned, for example, refuses to drive his car in the winter and will only travel by horse and sleigh, and later in the film the kids drag the Martian around behind a snowmobile before taking him to a hockey game!). It’s also worth pointing out that the movie is narrated by François as an adult looking back on things and he describes it in the opening as the most wonderful day of his life!

    The child actors are fairly annoying, but that’s the norm for child actors. Marcel Sabourin, as The Martian, however… this guy steals the show. Running around using candy to get the kids to go along with him and wearing his mesh outfit and big fur coat, he looks absolutely ridiculous but it’s all for the better. Granted, there is a creepy element to him and at times he maybe comes across as a pedophile but how can you not get a kick out of him dressed the way he is zipping about town in his stupid outfit and hanging out in his homemade flying saucer? Oh, and more than once the kids fly.

    Note that this Blu-ray release contains both the original French language version as well as the English dubbed version of the movie. In the English version, the kids are referred to as Frankie and Cathy.

    The Christmas Martian – Blu-ray Review:

    Canadian International Pictures presents The Christmas Martian in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation “scanned and restored in 2K from the 35mm original camera negative by Éléphant - mémoire du cinéma Québécois” and framed at 1.66.1 widescreen.” The picture quality here is really nice, with strong detail and excellent color reproduction visible throughout playback. There are no problems with any noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifacts and there’s nice depth and texture on display throughout.

    Both versions of the movie get 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono tracks with optional English subtitles and they sound fine. The tracks are clean, clear and properly balanced without any noticeable hiss or distortion in the mixes.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary featuring Paul Corupe of Canuxploitation.com and film historian Jason Pichonsky. They do a great job of explaining the history of kids films in Canada from the NFB produced items to independently produced movies like this one, how it kicked off a homegrown children's film industry and it's connection to the well-known 'Tales For All' movie series, the more ridiculous elements in the movie, details on the cast and crew, Bernard Gosselin and Roch Carrier's work on the movie and other projects they've been involved with, the history of the production company behind the movie, the film's distribution history, how Quebecois culture affects the movie, when and where under-cranking is used on the movie, the use of prism filters and lots more.

    Next up is Trailers For All (1971-1994), a collection of thirty-two minutes of theatrical trailers for The Christmas Martian and the first fifteen films in the Tales for All series. This segment includes a trailer for the feature, The Dog Who Stopped The War, The Peanut Butter Solution, Bach And Broccoli, The Young Magician, The Great LAnd Of Small, Tadpole And The Whale, Tommy Tricker And The Stamp Traveller, Summer Of The Colt, Bye Bye Red Riding Hood, Pas de repit pour Melanie, Vincent And Me, Reach For The Sky, The Cleaning Machine, The Flying Sneaker and, finally, The Return Of Tommy Tricker. You can watch all of these trailers with or without some informative commentary from Corupe and Pichonsky that offers up a quick history of each movie featured here.

    A new thirteen minute audio interview with actor Marcel Sabourin lets the man who played the Martian speak about how and why he got into acting for film specifically, how he got his start doing many smaller parts, having fun on various sets and always getting along with the casts and crews that he worked with, memories of working for the NFB, how he got his part in The Christmas Martian, bringing a clownish side to his work, his costuming in the movie and quite a bit more.

    The Joy Of Winter is a fifteen minute documentary made in 1962 by Gosselin and The Christmas Martian’s producer Jean Dansereau. It's a nicely shot black and white short that shows off how harsh the Canadian winter can be before then showing off how beautiful and enjoyable it can be as well. As such, we get early footage showing people shoveling, struggling to get their cars out and trying to get snow from building up on the roof before then juxtaposing this with footage of kids playing in the snow, families skiing and sledding and people ice fishing, as set to a light, jazzy soundtrack.

    The Beach is a four minute short from 1978 based on a story by The Christmas Martian's screenwriter Roch Carrier. This animated quickie shows a lone female figure sailing of the shore of a beach before being almost overtaken by the waves and then contrasting the boat with people enjoying themselves on the beach. It's artsy and strange but definitely worth four minutes of your time.

    Finishing up the extras on the disc is a French theatrical trailer for The Christmas Martian, menus and chapter selection options.

    Inside the clear keepcase is a full color insert booklet that contains a new interview with NFB curator Marc St-Pierre and an essay on composer Jacques Perron written by Fantasia programmer Marc Lamothe as well as some technical notes on the presentation and credits for the Blu-ray release. Some nice reversible cover artwork is also provided.

    The Christmas Martian - The Final Word:

    Canadian International Pictures’ Blu-ray release of The Christmas Martian brings this Canadian holiday oddity to Blu-ray in fine form with a great presentation and on a disc loaded with extras. Those with an affinity for the strangest of strange kids’ movies will find a lot to like here. Recommended!


    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized The Christmas Martian Blu-ray screen caps!

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