Rare Exports


Rare Exports

[aka: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale]

Written by Jalmari Helander, Petri Jokiranta & Sami Parkkinen

Cinematography by Mika Orasmaa

Music by Juri & Miska Seppä

Visual Effects: Fake Effects

Produced by Agnes B., Anna Bjork, Francois-Xavier Frantz, Petri Jokiranta & Knut Skoklund

Directed by Jalmari Helander




Onni Tommila - Pietari

Jorma Tommila - Rauno

Tommi Korpela - Aimo

Rauno Juvonen - Piiparinen

Ilmari Järvenpää - Juuoso

Peeter Jakobi - Santa’s Elf

Per Christian Ellefsen – Riley

Jonathan Hutchings – Mr. Green



Theatrical: Pomor Film, Love Streams & Agnes B. Productions, Davaj Film, FilmCamp & Filmpool Nord

Video: Oscilloscope Laboratories



Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC

Disc Size: BD50

Feature Size: ca. 23 GB

Bit Rate: High (Moderate: 25-30 Mbps)

Runtime: 82 minutes

Chapters: 15

Region: A (B & C: untested)



Finnish & English LPCM Stereo 2.0

Finnish & English Dolby Digital 5.1



English (optional)



• The Making of Rare Exports – in SD (28:50)

• “Rare Exports Inc” the original 2003 short film (7:15)

• Rare Exports: The Official 2005 Safety Instructions(10:45)

• Animatics & Computer Effects (4:15)

• Blood in the Snow: Concept Art Drawings (3:05)

• Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery

• Oscilloscope Trailers in HD

• [BD Exclusive]: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians - in SD (80 min.)

• DVD copy



Custom Paper Gatefold Blu-ray case: 

BRD x 1 + DVD x 1

Release Date: October 25, 2011

Critical Reaction:

2010 Sitges Film Festival: Best Film

2010 Locarno Film Festival: Winner: Piazza Grande Award

2010 Winner Jussi Awards: Best Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Editing, Music & Sound Design

Chicago Sun-Times

“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale" is a rather brilliant lump of coal for your stocking hung by the fireside with care. How else to explain an R-rated Santa Claus origin story crossed with "The Thing"? Apart from the inescapable that the movie has Santa and reindeer in it, this is a superior horror film, a spot-on parody of movies about dead beings brought back to life. Oh, and all the reindeer are dead. – Roger Ebert



Los Angeles Times

The hero is a take-charge kid (Onni Tommila) who lives in northern Finland with his reindeer-hunter father (played by his real-life dad, Jorma Tommila). Just as hundreds of deer meet an unexpected fate that puts the father on the brink of bankruptcy, the boy discovers that a scientific dig across the Russian border has unearthed Father Christmas. His subsequent research — in beautifully illustrated books of Scandinavian myths — shows him that the old codger was a child-hating monster.

What unfolds is a dark comic thriller and action-hero send-up, a strange alloy of daredevil helicopter maneuvers and night of the living elves. Captured in atmospheric widescreen camerawork, the end-of-the-world frozen landscape (actually Norway) is spectacular and spooky.  In his first feature (based on a concept he originated in a series of shorts), writer-director Jalmari Helandar draws upon a trove of movie clichés, complete with emotion-tugging music, to take aim at the entrepreneurial spirit of the contemporary Christmas season.  – Sheri Linden




The Movie : 8.5

Lately I’ve been reading a collection of essays titled “Reflections of the Dawn of Consciousness” that take up the question that Julian Jaynes posited thirty odd years ago in his seminal work on the subject.  It is fascinating reading, and I recommend the new book and the original work by Jaynes wholeheartedly.  One thing they consider in ways you may not have come across before is the question of childhood hallucinations.  What we generally think of as imagination, so peculiarly and uniquely childlike, is something most of us not only grow out of, but lose altogether (except perhaps for artists, the religiously exalted  and some of the mentally ill.)  There are any number of fictional works that address the lost world of childhood, but I can assure this world is alive and well in “Rare Exports.”



“Rare Exports” plays as a projection of that very fantasy world of childhood that we adults have forgotten but that appears in our dreams, sometimes to frighten the bejesus out of us.  Pietari is still young enough to believe in Santa Claus but for some reason his idea of Santa is focused on the “naughty kids” angle – and Pietari has definitely been naughty.  He and his older friend, Kuuno, have made it possible for scores of reindeer to be slaughtered by evil forces, costing their parents thousands of dollars in potential income.  In typical heroic fashion, only Pietari understands the connection between the dead reindeer and current exploratory excavations nearby at the frontier with Russia, and he is equally convinced that Santa is going to make him pay for his bad behavior.



You will recognize in “Rare Exports” themes and visuals from other films as disparate as “The Thing from Another World,” “The Polar Express” and “Time Bandits.”   Helander’s film is more earthbound and less fantastic than those.  Like “The Thing” Rare Exports only gradually slips into out-and-out fancy, and even then it is more grounded than most horror films, less self-conscious than most fantasy.  Rare Exports is more like a daydream than a nightmare, but one than can be lethal if you’re not careful to “follow the rules.”



One more advisory: the title is a little tricky, since its meaning - a joke that takes the story in a different direction that had been suggested for the previous 80 minutes - only reveals itself at the very end.  It is for this reason that it is best to see this film with as little advance knowledge as possible. You should avoid, therefore, the extra features until after you watch the main event because, among other things, it includes the original 2003 short film, the longer 2005 short film and the trailer, all of which give away the ending.  More important they give the impression that the movie is about something other than it turned out to be, as if the marketing folks forgot to update their material since the earlier versions.  This is no small point.  Be on your guard - and wash behind your ears.



Image: 9/10

Typical of Oscilloscope presentation on HD or DVD, Rare Exports gets the hands-off transfer treatment.  Only a tad softer than the best Blu-rays, Rare Exports is nonetheless filmlike and in many ways, reference.  It looks gorgeous on the computer.  Oscilloscope’s Blu-ray is going to look and sound better in your home theater than you would have encountered at the local Cineplex.  Colors are rich and natural appearing, especially the primaries of Pietari’s outrageous hockey outfit. Contrast is well controlled: the whites are never blown out, but neither does the snow seem made of individual crystals. Blacks are deep and noiseless.  Transfer artifacts are pretty much non-existent. The CGI evoked for Pietari helicopter ride looks like a pen and ink illustration in motion.  Skin tones are spot on.



Audio & Music: 7/7

Oscilloscope offers both a lossless LPCM stereo mix (presumably the original) and, for surroundhead diehards: a Dolby Digital 5.1. The 5.1 works surprisingly well despite its being compressed; the 2.0 is not unsurprisingly more dynamic and more focused. The 2.0 is effective in any case, missing only the occasional pans of passing vehicles on the ground and in the air and the added spaciosness of the music score. In either mix the music and effects take charge in suspenseful and critical moments. Dialogue is clear and properly sized and located - more realistic than enhanced as is typical for thrillers.



Extras: 6

Oscilloscope often offers a substantial array of bonus features and they do do so here for Rare Exports.  Substantial, yes, but not especially substantive.  The half-hour Making-of segment is presented in an informal, home movie manner more entertaining than informative.  I found the frequent mugging into the camera to be tedious after a while, and the use of a background score misplaced. As for picture quality, even though anamorphic my iPhone could have done better.



On the other hand the three features on visual effects and concept art drawings, all in HD, are smartly carried off, blending before and after footage in creative ways.  The earlier short films on which the feature film is based are not to be missed if you want to see the evolution of the idea.  Actually it’s more a transformation than an evolution.  I can’t underscore the value of watching these short films only after you watch the feature film.  For the Blu-ray edition only, Oscilloscope adds the 80-minute TV children’s movie “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” - It’s the movie that introduced an eight-year old Pia Zadora, but its value here is in its being a very different take on the man in the red suit.  Also included are several Oscilloscope trailers in HD: Rare Exports, Meek’s Cutoff, The Messenger, Terribly Happy, and La Loi. 

Sadly missing are a discussion of Nordic mythology or a consideration of a reindeer economy that motivate just about everything that happens in the movie.



Recommendation: 9

Before taking another step be warned this movie is not for young children – at least not pure white American children, and certainly not the parents of such children who would be horrified at the sight of dozens of naked old men.  Beyond this, “Rare Exports” is sly and scary in the way that European fairy tales are.  Many will respond to the movie as a send up of Christmas clichés, and, while that works, I feel it limits the film’s scope – like those juvenile ads that compare “Rare Exports” to “Bad Santa.” Beautifully photographed, cleverly acted, smartly told, Rare Exports is not to be missed by anyone still young enough to appreciate childhood empowerment fancies.




Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

October 8, 2011

Return to Top

Oscilloscope Home Page

Score CardScore_Card.htmlScore_Card.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0
About MeAbout_Me.htmlAbout_Me.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0