Tag Archives: guardians

Guardians of my childhood

This is somewhat a follow up to my review of Rise of the Guardians.
I reflected on how I experienced the Guardians of Childhood when I was a kid and originally had added it to that post, but it was just too off topic so I put it into a post of its own. Like many children I used to believe in the „big four“ or at least to some extent.

Sandmann, lieber Sandmann…

An old still from „Unser Sandmännchen“


The Sandman was a constant companion, as we have a children’s show here in Germany called „Unser Sandmännchen“ (Our little Sandman) that uses stop-motion technique to tell the story of a little man with white hair and goatee, a red cape and a pointed hat, always carrying his bag of sand wherever he went.
And he visited many places and everywhere he went the children asked him for a bedtime story. And of course he told them. We learned about the kobold Pittiplatsch and his friends Schnatterinchen (a duck) and Moppi (a dog); of Herr Fuchs (Mr. Fox) and Frau Elster (Mrs. Magpie); of the water goblin Plumps and the baby chicken Kücken and, when the versions from East and West Germany merged, also of the the piglets Piggeldy [a]nd Frederick. (Note on this: During the Division of Germany there was a version of The Sandman on both sides of the country. Nowadays they use the figurine of the East, but stories of both sides and of course new additions.)
So nearly every evening my parents would change the channel to let me watch it and let me accept that when he threw his dream sand it was time to go to bed. 😉

The Man in Red

Santa Claus or the Weihnachtsmann (literally: Christmas-man) as we call him was a phenomenon until I was about six when I realized that the guy behind the mask was in fact my dad and it was made of plastic. I think the following year I even took the mask and played Santa for my parents. Breathing was difficult underneath that plastic thing, but it was fun nonetheless. 😀
Before that it was great to tell dad that he had just missed Santa. 😀
Until I knew the truth he was pretty much a figure of respect for me, you had to do well reciting your poems if you wanted to get your present from him after all. When I knew it was just an adult dressing up I tried not to spoil the fun for the other kids, though I think I failed at that occasionally by loudly thinking…(like I did with some other things as well, but that is a story for another time).
There is a city called „Himmelpfort“ (Heavens Gate) that has one of Germany’s Christmas post offices, where kids can write to and get a reply by Santa or the „Christkind“ (Christchild) or the „Nikolaus“ – which are two other beings, said to bring presents to children. When I was a kid I once wrote them and got a reply I still have somewhere. A printed letter on green paper with drawings all around it. I don’t remember what stood actually in it, but I remember that I used a pen to redraw the angels and stars on the paper. 😀 It’s a nice idea for kids to have the chance to write the imaginary person and get a reply. And of course having this imaginary person in the first place. 🙂

Searching for eggs

Easter is still a holiday where we hide eggs for fun, though there is not much talk about the Easter Bunny any more – unless it is about the bunny that ends up as lunch. *cough*
But when we were at my grandpa’s at Easter the adults would hide little things in his garden and we kids (my cousins and I) then went to look for them. Everyone was gathered, everyone searched. It was fun.
This year was, I think, the first Easter after he passed away that we were able to spent with the family again, but we were only a few people and the only child being my cousins daughter. But my aunt wouldn’t miss the chance to also hide something for her children and me. And of course my dad and I played our little game of: „I saw this many eggs, how much have you found?“ Leaving the actual search for the others. 😀

The unknown legends

The Tooth Fairy wasn’t that present, I’m not even sure if she was mentioned at all, probably only one or two times when I lost my baby teeth…
I roughly remember complaining about the weirdness of the idea of putting my tooth under my pillow and waiting for someone to pick it up. I kind of think my mum made me put it there anyway and exchanged it for a coin somehow. Though I guess I mostly learned about her from television and I still think it’s a weird tale to tell a kid…

Väterchen Frost from the movie „Abenteuer im Zauberwald“ (Adventures in the Enchanted Forest)


And here is when it becomes weird:
The first time I ever heard about „Jack Frost“ was in the „The Santa Clause 3“ movie, where he was portrayed by Martin Short. By then I wasn’t really a kid any more. The only frost „spirits“ I new were Väterchen Frost (Father Frost) from the Russian Fairy Tales and Frau Holle (Mother Hulda) from the Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the movie adaptations I watched as a child. I still feel closer to them.
The Bogeyman never really played a role either and I’m pretty sure that Pitch from RotG was only the fourth I had ever encountered. I think some of the „friends“ I had throughout childhood talked about „the Black Man“ (der Schwarze Mann, as one of his German versions is called) lurking in the dark, but my parents never tried scaring me with that.
Still lying in my room all alone at night was a completely different matter, though my room was never really dark as I had a street lamp right in front of my window. As soon as a limb would make its way out underneath the bedsheets it would be drawn in again.  Even faster if it came anywhere near the floor. My bed did not have space underneath it, but there still was the floor where something could be crawling at you. But I have to admit that even now, after I’ve watched (or read) something supposedly scary the shadows seem to be even darker as they usually are.
Well, the „Fear of the Dark“ is after all something basic that is settled deep within us and I don’t think it will ever go away. It might not frighten us as it did during childhood, but you will still have this weird feeling of something watching you, just not as strongly.
As I said, Pitch was only Nr. 4 and it took me a while to learn about the concept of the Bogeyman.
My first Bogeyman ever was Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare before Christmas the main antagonist and well, the singing sack of bugs, that tried to torture „Sandy Claws„. Not really frightening, but still a Bogeyman.
Number 2 and 3 both live(d more or less) in the city of Ankh Morpork which I learned about when I read (and later watched) „Hogfather“ by Terry Pratchett. A brilliant story about an assassin „killing“ the Hogfather (the Discworld version of Santa) and DEATH fills in for him. The first Bogeyman was a minor character that got clobbered by DEATH’s granddaughter Susan in the beginning of the story. The other is the first Bogeyman ever <spoiler for anyone who still hasn’t heard about it>that became the Tooth Fairy of the Discworld, which is pretty funny if you look at the story of the RotG movie 😉 </spoiler>.
I can’t really remember any other entities that I was told about as a kid, so I guess I’ll leave it at that.
It’s always nice to rethink stuff you experienced in your childhood when learning about it in a different way and this is just one of many examples I had faced recently.
The series Once Upon a Time and Grimm made me rethink the fairy tales I grew up with. Rise of the Guardians made me think about this. And probably many more stuff I have yet to remember.
But it’s nice that a simple story can do that. 🙂
PoiSonPaiNter
© Rights for the pictures belong to their rightful owners.

Rise of the Guardians

I know the movie was released some time ago in 2012, but as I already have a habit of posting stuff way later then when they happened, I thought I might as well write a bit about this as I just re-watched it and felt like sharing my thoughts.

I first read about the movie on the deviantArt page of the artist Johanne Matte (aka rufftoon) that was involved in its creation. To celebrate the release of the Trailer she posted a series of cartoons that introduced one of the characters she had been working on, a character that was only eyes in the shadows of a closet at first, but then fully visible in the conclusion when the trailer was finally out and he could take revenge on another character that had previously mocked him about not being allowed into the light – which was by the way Zhao from Avatar – The Last Airbender.
This in combination with the trailer made me curious about the movie. It looked like a fun family movie. As a result I asked Iron Eve if she wanted to accompany me into the cinema as soon as I knew when the movie would hit the German theaters.

But what’s the movie about?

(Might be that there are still people who haven’t watched it)

Official poster

One of the official posters of the movie.

The Rise of the Guardians is an Animation Movie by Dreamworks Animation and is about the Guardians of Childhood: Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman protecting the children of Earth with a strong hand…wait…no, that last one was nearly a line from Avantasia’s song „The Tower„. Let’s try again: Those four were chosen by The Man in the Moon to protect the children from any danger. Each of them protecting a certain aspect of childhood: Dreams, Hopes, Memories and Wonders. But of course something does in fact endanger these things: The Fear created by the Bogeyman. He had been weakened over the centuries and now tries to regain the powers he had throughout the dark ages, because all mystical beings can only exist as long as people believe in them. And no one really believes in the Bogeyman anymore. Therefore – much to the dislike of the Guardians – he tries to make children believe in him through turning their dreams into nightmares and stopping their belief in the Guardians to weaken them instead. With the help of a newly appointed and still not so happy about it Guardian – Jack Frost – they try to fight off the new threat and protect the last believer, the boy Jamie, at all cost. But Jack first has to decide which side he choses, as no one ever truly believed in him before.

The watching experience

As I mentioned I watched the movie in the cinema for the first time and as it nowadays is a must-have to show everything in 3D it was also only shown as such.
I have to say I am not a fan of this trend. On the one hand it is pretty annoying to wear the 3D glasses above your actual glasses and on the other hand do 3D movies have the tendencies to either only include short sequences where it is nearly a waste to use it at all or use it in sequences that are that fast that you get dizzy while watching it. Well, at least we have a 3D-capable theater by now and did not have to watch the 3D material in a 2D cinema…(I had that when I watched „The Last Airbender“ and it made some scenes even worse…)
Instead of doing either of it RotG did use the 3D effects quite nicely for the dream- and the nightmare-sand and general movement and perspectives. I kind of think it makes more sense to use these effects in an already animated movie than in a real-people movie, where you can’t actually get the same experience.
Other than that was it also interesting to see when we laughed and when the actual children laughed about certain jokes. It is always fun to be in a children’s movie as a semi-adult. 😀
As we watched it in German we also had the German synchronization and I think it was quite well done, especially now that I’ve watched the original version. The voices are quite similar and even the translation was quite on spot. Though they did change the calling name of the Tooth Fairy from Tooth to Fairy (Fee), they probably just didn’t want the characters to shout „Zahn“ all the time. 😉
Other than that: North (Santa) also has the Russian accent, Bunnymund (Easterbunny) calls everyone a mate (though in the Berlin-way: „Keule“), Sandy (Sandman) doesn’t speak at all. Oh, and Pitch (Bogeyman) is voiced by Son Goku (Dragonball Z), but he can pull off the tragic villain as good as the universe savior. 😀
I really liked that Sandy communicated only through sand-pictures and the Baby-Tooths only through whistling instead of actual talking.

The characters

What I liked about the characters of this movie, is that all of them have enough quirks and antics to not seem as „perfect“ as protagonist in movies often tend to be. It is rare for me, but I don’t think that I really do NOT like any of the characters, especially none of the main cast. (I will probably cover this at some point in time with a separate post)
Maybe it’s because of these things:
North changes from childish to Warrior in seconds.
Bunny is the big and bossy Australian *cough* kangaroo *cough*, that can also be adorably cute.
Tooth is all business, but quite obsessive when it comes to teeth and children.
Sandy slightly silly, but the secret badass of the four.
Jack, the childish prankster that just wants to be seen.
Pitch, the „bad boy“ that just wants children to remember him.
And the kids, that are just kids being silly kids. 😀

As I already have a tendency to like villains I couldn’t help myself but to be taken in by Pitch Black as well…
Apart from sympathy for his chosen colour I felt pity for him at the end of the movie. All he did was trying to regain the powers he had held centuries ago and that allowed him to be seen by people – and not just children. Of course his way was by far not the nicest – or even the cleverest – but he probably just didn’t knew what else he should do to change his demise. There are much scarier things in this world than the Bogeyman, but I’ll come to that later. What also made me like him more were rufftoons comics about his past that can be found in her gallery here. Incredible comics that partly show a different back story than the official one portrayed in special comics and other stuff from Dreamworks and of course the books by William Joyce (The Guardians of Childhood).

The Sandy-toy facing in a weird direction

The Sandy-toy facing in a weird direction

After that I think it would be a tie between North with his weird jokes, the yetis and the elves, Bunnymund and his walking eggs and of course Sandy, though he might even be on par with Pitch. I even have the McDonalds figurine of Sandy standing/lying in my book shelf. 😀 (Eve got Bunny by the way). Though the magnet used to move him is weird. It always gets stuck when he is nearly facing the holding thing, but it’s a fun toy nonetheless. 🙂

Jack and Tooth, though I do not dislike them and they do have some nice scenes, are just a bit too plain to be among my favourites.

Among the kids I consider Cupcakes to be the funniest. Typical bully turned friend, but still fun, just as much as Monty, the kid with glasses, whose reactions were sometimes hilarious…. 😀

It is also great that you can see why the characters act the way they do. Common sense makes you understand the competitiveness between Bunny and North, Christmas is after all the much more celebrated holiday. But you also can understand why both Jack and Pitch strife for being believed in. I think it must be one of the worst feelings to see all these people around you and knowing that they cannot see you in return. It is already awful to be ignored as normal person, but as personification of an aspect of life (Fear, Frost) it must be even worse. At least in our cases others would bump into us, instead of walking right through you.

General opinion

The Rise of the Guardians is a great movie. It has just the right amount of silliness and seriousness needed to portray an important message: Without belief in Wonders, without Hope, Dreams and good Memories there would only be Fear in children and children are our future that we must protect at all cost.
It also shows that even though children do not believe in the Bogeyman himself anymore, there is still enough Fear for him to still exist. Sure what people fear has greatly changed throughout mankind’s history, but it is still there and I could write a whole post about that alone – in fact I once wrote quite a long article about it, maybe I’ll translate it one day.

The movie has some really precious scenes and well portrayed characters.
Angry Sandy, not-believed in Easter Bunny, silly Elves and annoyed Yetis and all that wrapped in great animations (though a bit edged at times).
They also do well with playing with the viewers emotions.
When I first watched it, I didn’t really know what I should feel, when the scene moved on to the next big thing after the previous one had just happened.
You could argue that the movie therefore is a bit rushed, but I’d still say it was the pace needed to properly tell the story – even though the characters themselves did not really get time to process things or have much time for development, but you could say the movie portrays a war and you don’t really have much time in those either.

Regardless of the fact that it is a children’s movie does it have the potential and the ability to capture an older audience with its charms and jokes as well. Awws and laughter could also be heard from adults as much as from children, though not as loudly. 😉

Simply put: I really enjoyed the movie and I gladly bought the DVD, to watch it again whenever I feel like it. Even though some scenes don’t work as much as they used to during the first time watching, as you know what will happen later on. 😉
And I am curious about the books and comics accompanying it, but it’s always quite annoying to buy something in a different currency as I am not sure whether they are even available in Germany. But maybe will I get my hands on them anyway sometime. 🙂

Stuff I’d like to add

For those who didn’t know: „Mare“ is an old word for a female horse, so Nightmare basically means Night-horse and do you remember what shape the Nightmares had? 😉 It is a bit more complicated than that, seeing that the word derives from a creature called „Nachtmahr“ in German that sometimes was portrayed in the shape of a horses head, but that’ll get too off-topic.

What also is too off-topic but what I still would like to add is a bit about my experiences with these characters/guardians in my childhood.
So you can look forward to that some time in the future. 😉

PoiSonPaiNter

© Rights for the poster and the figurine belong to Dreamworks (the latter probably also to McDonalds).