DVD
Hogfather

Starring: David Jason, Marc Warren, Michelle Dockery, Nigel Planer and Tony Robinson
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: 19.99 / £24.99
3587001000 / 3587001057
Certificate: PG
Available 23 April 2007


Based on Terry Pratchett's worldwide best selling fantasy book,
Hogfather is set on the semi-medieval but strangely familiar Discworld. And the Hogfather (you know, the jolly fat man) who delivers presents to the kiddies at Christmas at the midwinter festival of Hogswatch has gone missing. But it's vital that all the presents are delivered, otherwise the sun won't rise tomorrow. However, there is another supernatural entity who can be everywhere at once and, most importantly, knows where everybody lives. He is Death, but with a false beard and a few cushions that he reckons might just work...

I am not the world's greatest lover of Terry Pratchett. I've never managed to get the whole way through one of his Discworld books and I've never understood what all the fuss was about. In my eyes he is another one trick pony - like Douglas Adams - who has managed to keep his head down and, effectively, write the same book over and over again for years hoping that no one will notice.

So when Hogfather landed in my in-tray I didn't know what to think. I decided that I'd pretend it wasn't based on a Pratchett book and see what happened. In all honesty I have to admit that this is one of the best pieces of festive family entertainment I've seen in a long time. This is a classic waiting to be.

This has one of the best lines I've heard in a family show, when Death despairs at humans, saying: "In a universe full of wonders they have managed to invent boredom." It also has a very grown-up conclusion too - with the reason why mankind needs to believe in the Hogfather being put under the spotlight.

There are some wonderful performances by some well respected actors and it was interesting to hear, in one of the featurettes in this collection, that David Jason relished the chance to sit back and play second fiddle to another actor (Marnix Van Den Broeke playing Death) reacting to his performance instead of wading in there and demanding centre stage. While some will argue that any tall guy could have played Death, I beg to differ. If you watch the extras you'll discover just how subtle a performance the actor gives. There are scenes here that are genuinely touching and I can't help but think how a different actor could have easily messed it up. Of course it helps having the voice of Ian Richardson too.

The only character I was slightly unsure of was Marc Warren's Teatime. I suppose that as a kids film he plays it at the right level. But there was just a little too much of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's Child Catcher in there.

I'm sure this DVD is best viewed over the Christmas period (empty Easter Egg wrappers still litter my desk as I write this review), but then I'm sure fans will welcome watching this all year round.

Extras are pretty impressive too. These include 12 Days of Hogswatch (12 4-minute featurettes looking at different characters and themes from Hogfather); The Whole Hog (46 mins making of featurette that is split into three segments); three deleted scenes; galleries and trailers for other releases.

Terry Pratchett fans will love this, and it may just attract a lot of new fans that have previously turned their backs on Pratchett. I know that I'll be trying once again to get in tune with the Discworld.

Nick Smithson

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Limited Edition - Includes a Note to Terry Pratchett Fans
   
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£12.99 (Play.com)
Standard 2-Disc Edition
   
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£15.99 (Play.com)
Limited Edition - Includes a Note to Terry Pratchett Fans
   
£12.99 (HMV.co.uk)
Standard 2-Disc Edition
   
£15.99 (HMV.co.uk)
Limited Edition - Includes a Note to Terry Pratchett Fans
   
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Standard 2-Disc Edition
   
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Limited Edition - Includes a Note to Terry Pratchett Fans
   
£13.49 (Bensons-world.co.uk)
Standard 2-Disc Edition
   
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Limited Edition - Includes a Note to Terry Pratchett Fans
   
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Standard 2-Disc Edition
   
£15.85 (Thehut.com)
Limited Edition - Includes a Note to Terry Pratchett Fans

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