Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A great movie for St. Nicholas Day or any day during December: Winky's Horse

I am always looking for unique and interesting films to add to our home library, especially family-friendly films. So thought I would tell you about a film that my kids and I recently watched. It is called Winky's Horse.

I stumbled upon this DVD quite by mistake, but it is a mistake worth repeating! I was at the library with my kids, looking for something to watch together on family movie night. That can be a challenge when everyone in the house has such diverse interests. But this movie was a winner. In fact, the kids asked if we could buy a copy for our home library.

Winky’s Horse is about a 6 year old girl who moves from China to the Netherlands. The movie documents some of her frustrations at learning a new language and adjusting to a new culture. After a frustrating first day at her new school, she vows never to go back. On her way home, she sees a small horse and immediately falls in love with it. Life becomes more bearable now that she can sneak off after school and go to the farm to see the horse. She begs her parents to go to the farm and ride, but they say she is too young for horses. She asks them to get her a horse but her mother is afraid of them and says that she is too small. Then she hears about St. Nicholas, and decides that he is the only way she will get a horse. When he appears at her school, she asks him for a horse but he gives her a plush dog toy instead. Despite this, eventually her dreams come true. But you will need to watch the movie to see how!

The story had my seven year old daughter in tears; but then again, she cries easily at most movies! But even my ten year old son liked the movie. It has some weaknesses. It isn’t a glitzy, high budget film with the latest technological advances. But that would detract from the film’s purpose and story, which is a simple one. It was originally filmed in Dutch, so the dubbing of the English language over the film is a bit awkward, and the English is a bit stilted.

The film has some strengths, too. For example, it gives a good glimpse into Christmastime in the Netherlands, and the Dutch culture in general. It is interesting to see how the children make paper hats and do other projects to prepare for Sinterklaas. Incidentally, Sinterklaas is different from the American Santa Claus. He dresses in a red robe (instead of red jacket) and wears a miter on his head instead of a red tasseled cap. In fact, Sinterklaas resembles the ancient bishop after whom he is patterned--St. Nicholas of Myra. It is interesting to see that he travels into town on a ship, then travels around town on a white horse.

The film was produced in 2005. It has won a number of international film awards, including a Kids Audience Award at the Munich Film Festival in 2006, a Children’s Jury Award at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival in 2006, and an Audience Award at the Castellinaria Festival Internazionale in Bellinzona, Switzerland in 2006.

I hope we can find the sequel, Where is Winky’s Horse? so we can see the further adventures of the impish Winky!

Some might think this movie is a bit corny, but I recommend it as a great family flick for the holiday season!

Incidentally, the cover art shown at the beginning of this article is from the original Dutch release of the movie. The artwork was changed for U.S. release. The new artwork is strange; it shows a photo of a Caucasian girl, a white horse, Santa and his sleigh. Neither they girl, Santa or the sleigh are a part of this story. I think Peace Arch Entertainment, the distributors of the film in the U.S., must have changed the cover art to appeal to U.S. audiences. That’s too bad because Ebbie Tam, the little girl who plays Winky, is adorable, as you can see in the original artwork.

You can see another synopsis of the movie at the website

If you can't find this film at your library, you can purchase it inexpensively on  Click on this link for more information:

This would be a good film to get now so you can watch it on St. Nicholas Day (December 6).  

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