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Day of the Elves: November 27, 1985


From Richard Washington's KringleQuest: How Santa Claus: The Movie Changed My Life

Santa Claus: The Movie fans, you're in for a real treat! Here, we present a newly revised and updated version of "Prologue: Day of the Elves --- 11/27/1985," the introductory section of KringleQuest! How Santa Claus: The Movie Changed My Life, Richard Washington's epic chronicle which, if published in the near future, would serve as this website's official companion piece. Enjoy!

To most of the rest of the world, Wednesday, November 27th, 1985, was pretty much just another middle-of-the-week day in perhaps one of the most important periods on Earth: the eve of the start of the holiday season. The following day, of course, was Thanksgiving; and, within and beyond New York City, shoppers had gathered themselves together from all walks of life to basically buy, sell, exchange, remind, and (in more than a few cases) sometimes complain.

In short, this was your typical night before Thanksgiving. On the surface, that is.

There were, however, people for whom this day would never again be so ordinary. These people were a team of men and women of extraordinary talent and enormous pedigree, individuals who had been gathered together to embark upon a four-year journey of discovery, beginning in the late summer of 1982. Leading this unprecedented expedition were a father and son who, for nearly 20 years, had taken moviegoing audiences to places they had never before imagined, much less witnessed. Theirs was a dynasty worthy of even the most remarkable ballads.

Now, here within the lush surroundings of the small village of Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, that father and that son and their team had come together to bring to life an adventure involving perhaps one of the most legendary icons of this or any age. That adventure would introduce the world to an innocent visionary who belonged to an ancient race of beings known as the Vendequm --- and would tell the story of how, through the said visionary's unwitting efforts, Christmas as we know it came dangerously close to being rendered completely nonexistent.

That father and that son, Alexander and Ilya Salkind, had succeeded only seven short years before in making the world believe in the power of flight through their epic odyssey of the adventures of a proud intergalactic warrior who, bearing Mankind's standard of responsibility, would take for himself the sobriquet of Superman. Now, approximately seven years after their first and greatest triumph, Superman: The Movie, had spawned two sequels and a non-related follow-up, Supergirl, the time had at last come for the Salkinds to turn their attention towards that other, red-suited, flight-capable permanent resident of the North Pole: Santa Claus!

Santa Claus? Have these two guys lost their minds? one might well wonder. Even so, these two legends of the silver screen knew exactly what they were doing, and now they had been blessed with all the resources that would provide them with all the capabilities necessary to take on this all-important assignment: a full-length, big-budget feature film adventure starring Santa Claus!

How, you ask, do I know all this? Well, for almost the last 20 years, it has been my pleasure to have been numbered amongst the few serious chroniclers of all things Salkind in general; and of Santa Claus: The Movie in particular. Through the website I developed, which shares its name with the title of this book, I have sought to increase public awareness of this magical little movie, unjustly vilified at the U.S. box office on its first release, yet still capable of giving its many fans a magical glow unmatched (thus far) by other films about Santa Claus. While, to date, the journey has been a long and sometimes lonely one, I realize now that there are and there will be others who will want to know more about Santa Claus: The Movie --- who made it, how and why it was made, who got involved with the project, and everything else in between. In other words, I wanted to tell this film's story, and to preserve its legacy so that others could remember it, too. So this is the story of a Legend, some Elves, a couple of filmmakers --- and how they all came together to help one young man believe in the power of magic all over again.

To properly tell this story, we have divided the book into three basic and distinct parts. Part One, needless to say, is literally the story of the movie itself ---adapted largely from my own expanded plot synopsis, as featured on my website.

Part Two is devoted to how the movie was made, focusing primarily on the origins of Santa Claus: The Movie; and featuring profiles of the cast and crew principals; an extended exploration into the life and times of the film's director, Jeannot Szwarc, the incredible force behind two cinematic camp classics, Jaws 2 and Somewhere in Time (some oficionados of Jeannot's works often tend to name the aforementioned Supergirl, his previous directorial gig for Team Salkind, as a third such camp classic); the special effects, which were developed on a grand scale at a time long before computer-generated imagery ever became a central part of our moviegoing experience; the music and the original songs that made the Santa Claus soundtrack so unusually hummable ....... and, finally, a tribute to the Salkinds themselves, telling the epic but ultimately tragic saga of how, over 52 remarkable years, one man dared to push the limits of moviemaking imagination, determining himself never to take no for an answer.

Lastly, in Part Three, I'll share with you my own role in this story: that of a former semi-believer who, having been compelled into believing by the very forces of Christmas, dedicates some two decades to cataloguing, collecting, and researching Santa's life, legend and legacy to the point whereby I was inspired to create an entire cornucopia of Santa Claus-themed and/or Santa Claus-related stuff! We're talking books, film and video footage, photographs, newspaper and magazine clippings, entire Christmas and/or holiday shopping catalogues, my own original drawings and artwork, and even no fewer than three Santa Claus suits! All of these items, I have lovingly placed in what I like to call my "shrine to Santa" --- and the best part of it all is, none of it is for sale (not just yet, anyway!).

What, in the end, inspired me to write this book?

Well, and to speak somewhat seriously for just a moment, one element of this project began almost immediately after Alexander Salkind passed away in his room at the American Hospital in the Parisian suburb of Neilly-sur-Seine on March 8th, 1997. That element is the very force of time itself. Over 10 years having passed now since Alexander's death, the Internet has been packed with even more news, updated information and other resources concenring his life and legacy. Nonetheless, with certain exceptions, the copyrights on those motion pictures bearing Alexander's name, particularly those made by him prior to Superman: The Movie, have been foolishly allowed to expire, or been otherwise neglected. I cannot honestly believe that the present entity which holds these copyrights, a company called Pueblo Film Licensing, has done what one would describe as a capable job in terms of keeping these copyrights well-preserved. This project, then --- both book and website --- must serve as a wake-up call of sorts, to encourage those in control at Pueblo Film Licensing to do the right thing and preserve the legacy of Alexander Salkind --- before it is unjustly lost to us forever.

Throughout the course of history, there have been men, women and children, regardless of their race, age, nationality, preference or country of origin, who have been inspired to toss aside whatever ties they may have had to the so-called "mundane," or "real," world --- and devote themselves to taking on life-changing adventures on an epic scale: adventures which, if permitted to succeed, might compel others to follow in their footsteps, or, at least, be otherwise inspired by their achievements, however big or small they might be.

King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table had a word for such adventures.

Quest.

This is the story of what, for me, has been an incredible and still-continuing Quest. Yet it remains a Quest that nevertheless continues to make clear its message about Santa, his legacy and his gifts: namely, that believing is always the greatest part of the adventure.

For this reason, then, I have chosen to give a name to this journey: KringleQuest! And you're all invited to come along, whether it be here, in the pages that follow, or online at http://kringlequest.tripod.com. Either way, I hope you'll all be amazed by the power that persists, inherent and unchanging .... the power of Santa Claus and his eternal magic.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful Christmas.

Richard Washington

New York City, Christmas 2006

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