Monday, December 23, 2013

The Universality of the Christmas Story


"I've heard good things about it," says old friend of this blogger Steven Cornett of Tokyo Godfathers (2003), mentioned on this blog yesterday. "Let me know what you think when you see it." Here's my go at that:

'Twas the story of "an alcoholic, a transvestite and a young runaway [who] happen upon an abandoned baby in a dumpster on Christmas Eve." The late, great Roger Ebert in his Tokyo Godfathers Movie Review (2004) calls it "an animated film both harrowing and heartwarming, about a story that will never, ever, be remade by Disney." That enough should recommend it.

This is a move Pope Francis would like. "Who am I to judge?" The main characters are the dregs of society: a fat teenage runaway, an alcoholic who abandoned his wife and daughter due to debts, a tranny derided continuously as "homo" and "faggot" who fell from the "grace" of a drag queen club. Even the foundling, given the name Kiyoko (清子), "pure child" because she was found on the "purest of nights," is a castaway. Good people hold their noses when they ride on subways. Youths attempt to beat them to death to "clean up" the city. A drunken salaryman hurls abuse when they attempt to warm themselves in a convenience store.

Instead of three kings, we have three bums. They know the child they find was put there to guide each of them... by God. Yes, God, Whom you will not hear about in any of our American animated "Christmas" specials on the telescreen this time of year, is ever-present in this movie, from a land where one percent of the population professes the name of Jesus Christ. Directors Satoshi Kon and Shôgo Furuya, in one of the world's most un-Christian lands, somehow, by the grace of God, even if incompletely, got it.

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