Klaus
In a corridor between two houses (bearing some resemblance to a Christmas Tree), Klaus holding a large bag of items, Jesper holding a letter, and Alva, and Márgu. The Children are seen holding letters while the adults of the Krum and Ellingboe Clans hold items and exchange taunts. The tagline on top of the film's title reads "Welcome to the Jingle".
Release poster
Directed bySergio Pablos
Screenplay by
  • Sergio Pablos
  • Jim Mahoney
  • Zach Lewis
Story by
  • Sergio Pablos
Produced by
Starring
Edited byPablo Garcia Revert
Music byAlfonso G. Aguilar
Production
companies
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • 8 November 2019 (2019-11-08)
Running time
97 minutes
Countries
  • Spain
  • United States
Languages
  • English
  • Northern Sami
Budget$40 million[1]

Klaus is a 2019 animated Christmas adventure comedy film[2] written and directed by Sergio Pablos in his directorial debut,[3] produced by his company The SPA Studios and distributed by Netflix. Co-written by Zach Lewis and Jim Mahoney, and co-directed by Carlos Martinez Lopez, the traditionally animated film stars the voices of Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Will Sasso, Neda Margrethe Labba, Sergio Pablos (in a dual role), Norm Macdonald (in his final film role released in his lifetime), and Joan Cusack. Serving as an alternate origin story of Santa Claus independent from the historical Saint Nicholas of Myra and using a fictional 19th-century setting, the plot revolves around a postman stationed in an island town to the Far North who befriends a reclusive toymaker (Klaus).

Klaus was released on 8 November 2019 and received critical acclaim for its animation, story, emotional depth, humor, narrative, and vocal performances. It won seven awards at the 47th Annie Awards, including Best Animated Feature, and also won Best Animated Film at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards. The film was also nominated at the 92nd Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature, making it the first animated film from Netflix to be nominated for an Academy Award, as well as the first animated film released by a streaming service to be nominated, alongside I Lost My Body (also Netflix),[4] which went to Toy Story 4, which also starred Cusack.[5]

Plot

In 19th-century Norway,[6] the Royal Postmaster General has enrolled Jesper Johansen, his lazy, spoiled, self-centered son, into a postman training academy in the hopes that it will reform him. Jesper deliberately underperforms, so his father assigns him as the postman of the distant, northern island town of Smeerensburg with the task of posting 6,000 letters within a year. If Jesper fails, he will be cut off from the family's fortune.

Jesper finds Smeerensburg comprised almost entirely by two feuding familial clans, the Ellingboes and the Krums. Jesper desperately requests letters from the townsfolk, but to no avail. Searching far outside of town, he finds an isolated house filled with handmade toys and inhabited by a tall reclusive woodsman named Klaus. Terrified by Klaus' imposing appearance, Jesper flees, leaving behind a drawing from one of Smeerensburg’s Krum children. Klaus forces Jesper to bring him to the house depicted in the drawing and secretly deliver a toy inside, which cheers the boy up.

Word spreads to the other children and they go to Jesper the next day, believing they will receive a toy if they send Klaus a letter. Jesper capitalizes on the idea to make progress on his goal and asks Klaus if he can donate his toys; Klaus agrees provided they operate at night and Jesper continues to deliver the toys in secret. The Krum boy's toy leads him to play with an Ellingboe girl, much to their clans’ outrage. As more children write letters to Klaus, Jesper tells them that Klaus knows whenever any child misbehaves and only gives toys to good children. The children begin to perform acts of kindness, which gradually inspire the rest of the townsfolk to end their ancient dispute. The children ask bitter teacher-turned-fishmonger Alva to teach them to read and write so they can send letters; inspired, she uses her savings to reopen her school.

Noticing that Klaus's toy supply has almost run out, and with his deadline approaching, Jesper tries persuading Klaus to make more toys in time for Christmas. Klaus refuses, and after Jesper inadvertently angers Klaus, Klaus forces him away. Motivated by Márgu, a Sámi girl who can't write or speak in English, Jesper works with Alva to help Márgu write a letter, then attempts to build Márgu a sled alone. Seeing Jesper's effort, Klaus reconciles with him and the two finish the sled. Upon delivering the sled and seeing Márgu's joy, Jesper is genuinely moved. Klaus reveals that he had made the toys for the children he and his wife Lydia hoped to have but could not conceive, only for Lydia to die from an illness. Klaus agrees to the Christmas plan, and Márgu arrives with the rest of her people to help. As the town and Jesper's relationship with Alva flourish, Jesper finds himself conflicted about whether to leave Smeerensburg.

Meanwhile, family elders Aksel Ellingboe and Tammy Krum form a temporary truce, wanting to stop Jesper and Klaus so the families can resume their feud. Together, they discover Jesper's initial motive and forge enough letters to meet well over his target. Jesper’s father arrives on Christmas Eve to congratulate his son, inadvertently revealing Jesper's original scheme to his friends. Just before they leave town, Jesper's father notices his son's remorse; after a private talk, he allows Jesper to stay. Jesper tries to stop the elders and their angry mob from destroying the Christmas toys; during the resulting chase, Aksel's daughter Magdalone and Tammy's son Olaf fall in love. Tammy seemingly destroys all of the Christmas toys; however, Alva and Klaus had already replaced the toys with decoys after the town's children warned them of the mob's ambush. Still, Jesper's actions have redeemed him to Klaus and Alva.

Smeerensburg becomes a happy town, as the family elders reluctantly end their feud due to the marriage of their children. Jesper marries Alva and they raise two children. He and Klaus continue to deliver presents in Smeerensburg and beyond for eleven years. On the twelfth year, Klaus feels his wife's presence in the wind and, going to join her, disappears. Although he is gone, Klaus lives on in Christmas stories, and so every subsequent Christmas Eve, Jesper waits for Klaus, who returns every year to deliver toys across the world.

Voice cast

Additional children voices provided by Evan Agos, Sky Alexis, Jaeden Bettencourt, Teddy Blum, Mila Brener, Sydney Brower, Finn Carr, Kendall Joy Hall, Hayley Hermida, Lexie Holland, Brooke Huckeba, Matthew McCann, Tucker Meek, Leo Miller, Joaquin Obradors, Víctor Pablos, Lucian Perez, Bailey Rae Fenderson, Maximus Riegel, Emma Shannon, Ayden Soria, Sunday Sturz, Hudson West, Gordon Wilcox, Emma Yarovinskiy, and Julian Zane.

Additional adult voices provided by Brad Abrell, Catherine Cavadini, Bill Chott, Daniel Crook, Brian Finney, Stephen Hughes, Neil Kaplan, Sam McMurray, Amanda Philipson, Alyson Reed, Dee Dee Rescher, Dwight Schultz, Lloyd Sherr, Helen Slayton-Hughes, and Travis Willingham.

Production

After setting up his animation studio in Madrid, Spain, director Sergio Pablos, who had worked on Disney Renaissance films such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Tarzan, decided to develop a new traditionally-animated feature film. Pablos wanted to explore how the medium would have evolved had western animation film studios not switched to producing mostly computer animated films since the 1990s. For the film's look, the studio sought to overcome some of the technical limitations that traditional animation had, focusing on organic and volumetric lighting and texturing to give the film a unique look, while maintaining a hand-crafted feel. Proprietary tools from Les films du Poisson Rouge, a French company in Angoulême, were used to allow the team to produce a variety of visual development styles, with the aim of getting away from the standardized style of "characters looking like stickers put on painted backgrounds."[7][8] Fellow Disney animators James Baxter, known for Beauty and the Beast, and Andrew Chesworth[9] also worked on the film.[10]

The first teaser for the project was released in April 2012; at the time, the studio was seeking investment, co-production, and distribution partners. It was shopped around to various studios, but most studios rejected the movie viewing it as "too risky."[11] In November 2017, Netflix announced that they had acquired the global rights to Klaus; at the same time, the casting of Schwartzman, Jones, Simmons, and Cusack was announced along with a Christmas 2019 release date.[12] In March 2019, it was reported that Netflix was planning an Oscar-qualifying run for Klaus in theaters, and it was listed as one of ten films Netflix was negotiating with chains to give limited releases prior to their online debuts that August.[13][14]

The film is dedicated to animator and scene checker Mary Lescher who died on 2 June 2019 of cancer. She had worked on Klaus, as well at both Disney Animation and DisneyToon Studios from 1989 to 2006.[15] Pablos said Smeerensburg is a deliberate misspelling of Smeerenburg, a former Dutch and Norwegian whaling station in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.[16]

Release

Klaus was released theatrically in select theaters on 8 November 2019, and was released digitally through Netflix on 15 November.[17] It is the first original animated feature film to appear on Netflix.[18] In January 2020, Netflix reported the film was watched by 40 million members over its first four weeks of release.[19]

Reception

Critical response

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 95% based on 78 reviews with an average rating of 7.7/10. The critical consensus reads "Beautiful hand-drawn animation and a humorous, heartwarming narrative make Klaus an instant candidate for holiday classic status."[20] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 65 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[21]

John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review, writing: "Sergio Pablos' Klaus invents its own unexpected and very enjoyable origin story for the big guy who gives out toys every Christmas eve. Shaking off most Yuletide cliches in favor of a from-scratch story about how even dubiously-motivated generosity can lead to joy, it contains echoes of other seasonal favorites (especially, in a topsy-turvy way, Dr. Seuss' Grinch) while standing completely on its own."[22] Peter Debruge of Variety gave the film a mixed review, calling the film over-complicated and saying: "What goodwill the movie does inspire owes more to the splendid visual world than to anything the story supplies."[23]

According to data provided by Netflix to Reuters, the film racked up nearly 30 million views worldwide in its first month.[24] The film beat Toy Story 4 for best Animated Film of 2019 on Animation Magazine.[25]

Deseret News named Klaus on their list of underrated Christmas movies to watch in 2023.[26]

Accolades

Accolades received by Klaus (film)
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards 9 February 2020 Best Animated Feature Sergio Pablos, Jinko Gotoh and Marisa Román Nominated [27]
British Academy Film Awards 2 February 2020 Best Animated Film Sergio Pablos and Jinko Gotoh Won [28]
Alliance of Women Film Journalists 10 January 2020 Best Animated Feature Klaus Nominated [29]
Annie Awards 25 January 2020 Best Animated Feature Jinko Gotoh, Sergio Pablos, Marisa Román, Matthew Teevan, Mercedes Gamero, Mikel Lejarza Ortiz and Gustavo Ferrada Won [30]
Best Character Animation in a Feature Film Sergio Martins (animation supervisor)

for "Alva"

Won
Best Character Design in a Feature Film Torsten Schrank Won
Best Directing in a Feature Film Sergio Pablos Won
Best Production Design in a Feature Film Szymon Biernacki, Marcin Jakubowski Won
Best Storyboarding in a Feature Film Sergio Pablos Won
Best Editorial in a Feature Film Pablo García Revert Won
Austin Film Critics Association Awards 6 January 2020 Best Animated Feature Klaus Nominated [31]
Detroit Film Critics Society Awards 9 December 2019 Best Animated Feature Klaus Nominated [32]
Golden Trailer Awards 22 July 2021 Best Animation/Family Movie Poster Klaus (Concept Arts) Nominated [33]
Goya Awards 25 January 2020 Best Animated Feature Klaus Nominated
Best Original Song "Invisible"

Jussi Ilmari Karvinen, Caroline Pennell, Justin Tranter (songwriters)

Nominated
St. Louis Film Critics Association Awards 15 December 2019 Best Animated Feature Klaus Runner-up (tied w/ Frozen II)
Visual Effects Society 29 January 2020 Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Sergio Pablos, Matthew Teevan, Marcin Jakubowski and Szymon Biernacki Nominated [34]
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Yoshimishi Tamura, Alfredo Cassano, Maxime Delalande and Jason Schwartzman for "Jesper" Nominated
Washington D.C. Film Critics Association Awards 8 December 2019 Best Animated Feature Klaus Nominated
European Film Awards 12 December 2020 Best Feature Film Klaus Nominated [35]
Quirino Awards 27 June 2020 Best Ibero-American Animation Feature Film Klaus Won [36]
Best Animation Design Sergio Pablos, Sergio Martins, Charlie Bonifacio, Victor Ens, Yoshi Tamura Won
Best Sound Design and Original Music Gabriel Gutiérrez, Alfonso González Aguilar Nominated
British Academy Children's Awards 27 November 2022 Best Feature Film Sergio Pablos Nominated [37]

Soundtrack

"Invisible" by Zara Larsson and "How You Like Me Now?" by The Heavy are featured in the film.[18] The song "High Hopes" by Panic! at the Disco is featured in the trailer.

See also

References

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  2. ^ Klaus (2019) - Sergio Pablos | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related | AllMovie, retrieved 25 February 2023
  3. ^ Grobar, Matt (17 December 2019). "Director Sergio Pablos Elevates Medium Of 2D Animation With 'Klaus,' Developing New Lighting Tools For Santa Claus Origin Story". Deadline. Archived from the original on 27 December 2020. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  4. ^ "Oscar nominees: It's David and Goliath in animation, but the little guy is well-armed". Los Angeles Times. 13 January 2020. Archived from the original on 14 January 2020. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  5. ^ 2020|Oscars.org
  6. ^ "Where Klaus Takes Place & 14 Other Things You Didn't Know About The Movie". ScreenRant. 17 December 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
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  9. ^ How it took almost a decade and Netflix to bring 'Klaus' — one of the year's best animated movies — to life - Insider
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  26. ^ 10 underrated Christmas movies to watch this year - Deseret News
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