Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (TV Short 1977) Poster

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Heartwarming tale of a donkey who helps create the first Christmas
meisterburger238 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Nestor the Long Eared Christmas Donkey is a sweet, yet sad Christmas Special.

The story starts with our narrator Santa's donkey who explains his ancestor Nestor, Nestor was a donkey born with very long ears. The other animals on the farm where he lived were mean and made fun of him. Olaf the donkey owner was also cruel and called him insulting names. The only person who was kind to Nestor was his mother. One night Roman soldiers come to the farm and want some young donkeys. Olaf shows them all the young donkeys and they take them. they take Nestor but he puts up a struggle causing his long ears to be shown. The angry soldiers take the young donkeys for free and leave Olaf furious that he lost a sale. Olaf tosses Nestor out into a blizzard and his mother has enough and breaks out of her pen to rescue her son. Homeless and alone Nestor and his mother find a drift bank and his mother digs a hole so she can cover Nestor up with herself to keep him warm. Tragically Nestor's mother dies in the blizzard sacrificing her own self for her young son. Nestor wanders the world alone until he meets a cherub called Tilly who tells Nestor he must travel to Bethlehem.

After a journey Tilly takes Nestor to a donkey dealer and Nestor spends the next months being ridiculed and abused by the other animals. One night Mary and Joesph arrive and want to purchase Nestor because they've fallen with his gentle eyes. The dealer gives Nestor for free. Mary Joseph and Nestor travel thru the desert and get caught in a sand storm, but Nestor uses his ears to hear the voices of angels and gets the two to Bethlehem where in a manger Jesus is born. Nestor returns to his farm where the animals and Olaf greet him with loving embrace.

This special is sad because Nestor's mother obviously dies and also there is a little abuse among the animals but it is forgiven in the end. I recommend this special for kids and nostalgia adults. It also teaches how that you have a purpose and God created you for that special purpose
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Good However
Christmas-Reviewer15 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers

Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey is a 1977 Christmas stop motion animated television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions. The production is first rate. The story moves along and it was made by Rankin-Bass. However beware Nestor's mother dies and its very sad. I would not allow a child under 5 to watch.

Of all the Christmas animation special that Rankin Bass made this is one of the better ones.
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Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey
Scarecrow-8824 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Roger Miller's vocal narration and singing makes "Nestor…" a real treat! This Rankin & Bass stop motion animation special is short and sweet. It is a Christian-themed story, though, so be warned if you have no interest in such themes as the travel of Mary (carrying Jesus) and Joseph to Bethlehem with help from a disregarded, mistreated, put-upon, victimized long-eared donkey named Nestor, and an angel sent by God to encourage Nestor's journey towards Bethlehem on an important mission. The story is told by a donkey that does chores and helps out the elves for Santa while the reindeer and Ole Saint Nick take off to spread gifts to kids everywhere on Christmas Eve. Nestor was born into a bad situation, improperly abused verbally and physically by his brutish owner (with a wolf that laughs at Nestor's mistreatment), while his mother tries to keep him fed and safe as much as possible. When Roman soldiers demand animals to help their empire, Nestor is used as bait but his long ears enrage them (the owner put socks on the donkey's ears to try and trick them!). Not getting paid anything for his attempted deceit, the owner gets rid of Nestor, hurling him into the cold, wintry night to die. In her efforts to protect Nestor, his mother perishes as the snow covers her. Nestor is alone and left to fend for himself, until an angel (voiced by Brenda Vaccaro) arrives to provide him with details on a mission he is to perform for God…the donkey will earn a respect and adoration from the very animals that tormented and ridiculed him.

Again, there's a very Christian presence throughout the television special but I do think the message of "rebounding from alienation and bullying because you are different than others" is universal. I think anyone who has ever felt inadequate or different, considered insignificant or ugly, could very well feel a kinship with Nestor. That he is accepted when it is confirmed that Nestor isn't worthless (God saw significance in Nestor, why shouldn't others?) provides a lesson in not judging book by its cover…we all have a chance, regardless of what we look like and despite the handicaps we might have, to be something special. Celebrated voice artist, Paul Frees, is the vocals for the nasty owner of Nestor and the cruel donkey dealer Joseph and Mary receive Nestor.
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I just want to hug little Nestor
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of my favorite Christmas television specials and it was made by the fairly famous Ranking and Bass almost 40 years ago. I am not religious at all, so the story is fine to me, but it does not leave a massive impact. The first reason why I love this so much is the main character. Nestor is really just as cute as it gets and I have always had a soft spot for donkeys. It's so much fun to watch this because he is in basically every single scene. And secondly, it's the music. Roger Miller adds a pretty unique touch with his singing here and it elevates the film a lot. I love his voice and it fits the tone of the film perfectly, be it the sad or the great moments. Shame on the other animals for bullying Nestor because of his rabbit ears. I felt they made him even much cuter than he already was. And there is some decent comedy in here as well, even if it's not immediately obvious. I found the scene hilarious at the end when Nestor uses his ears to ski down to the other animals. I saw this one here is actually a sequel to two Little Drummer Boy specials, but you don't need to watch them to enjoy this one here. In any case I enjoyed this animated Nestor movie a lot and highly recommend watching it.
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Great movie about being unique and overcoming tragedy
el by13 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I have always loved this movie, and cried during the whole thing--in good way. Yes, Nestor gets roughly abused, yes there is severe bullying, yes there is tragedy, yes it resembles real life in these ways. However, the story is wonderful to me for these reasons: 1) Nestor overcomes with help and by perseverance. 2) Children see how bad bullying and hating someone for being different can be. 3)It is a fresh look at the Christmas story that addresses God's way of making "all things work together for good," (Romans 8:28). 4)It is visually so well done.

My only negative criticism is that I do think it is foolish that Nestor went back to his birthplace. Why would he do that??? I believe he would just continue on with his life wherever he happened to be, but now he believes in himself and in God's leading.
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Almost a classic
rleehistory29 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I grew up with the Rankin and Bass Christmas specials, but I never saw or even heard of Nestor until it came as part of a DVD collection of classic Christmas programs. I was looking forward to it because so few Christmas specials actually deal with the story of the Nativity. Also, the predicament of misfits and outsiders is like a running theme in many of the Rankin and Bass classics, like Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. I was an abused and bullied child, and even though it was many years ago now, I remember that watching these programs gave me hope and they still never fail to bring a tear to my eyes.

The first part of Nestor is well done and deeply moving, and I didn't even mind the death of Nestor's mother because I knew that since this was a Rankin and Bass program, all of Nestor's sufferings would be redeemed in the end. He would discover the meaning and value of his long ears, and he would escape his social isolation with the help of friends who love and understand him.

Except that he never does. Find friends, that is. While Nestor's long, sensitive ears make it possible for him to help Mary and Joseph get to Bethlehem, he never makes a single real friend in the entire program. Apart from his mother, the only characters with whom Nestor bonds are an angel, whose sole purpose is to make sure he gets to Bethlehem, and Mary and Joseph, whom for some inexplicable reason he leaves after the birth of Jesus in order to return to the stable where he was abused and mistreated. Even at the Nativity, which should have been his moment of triumph, instead of being part of the scene, surrounded and befriended by the other animals, we are shown Nestor apart on a hillside, watching the Wise Men present their gifts, ALONE. For me, that was almost as heartbreaking as the death of Nestor's mother.

It is bizarre to me. Rankin and Bass virtually created the formula that is the basis for Nestor the Long Eared Donkey. In their other programs, they show a keen sensitivity to the needs and dreams of abused children, high on the list of which is the need for friendship and community. I am glad I never saw this program as a child, because it would have haunted me for weeks. The only possible explanation I can think of is that time constraints made it impossible for them to develop the story properly.

Nestor is a wonderful character and his story is deeply moving, but all I can do is fantasize that he at some point found the love and the friendship that we don't see him get here. I almost hope that someone will re-make this story, and this time do it properly. Sweet little Nestor deserves better.
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Beautiful Touching Christmas Story
utgard1415 December 2013
Lovely, touching Christmas special from Rankin-Bass. It's a real tearjerker so be prepared! The story is about Nestor the donkey, who has abnormally long ears. Because of his freakish ears, he is disliked and shunned. He suffers tragedy and heartache. Eventually though, long story short, his ears prove to be a blessing. Great writing, characters, stop-motion animation, and songs. This is a beautiful story that has more heart than anything they put out today. Due to it being tied into the Nativity story, it's not likely to be shown on TV much these days. Seek it out if you can. It's a real treat. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
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Fun Short Although a Bit Too Dark for Kids
Michael_Elliott15 December 2012
Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)

*** (out of 4)

Another winning Christmas short from the Bass-Rankin team. This one here centers on a donkey named Nestor who is constantly being picked on due to his large ears. All of this changes when Joseph and Mary come upon him and ask for his help. NESTOR, THE LONG-EARED Christmas DONKEY is certainly a cute little film that features the wonderful stop-motion animation that really brings all the characters to life. When one watches this movie they can't help but think of DUMBO and BAMBI as this film features stuff that is very similar to them. As with BAMBI, there's a death scene here that's done in a pretty dark and sad way and I'm sure this here might upset several kids who were to watch it. Still, I think the heart of the film is still here and on full display. The story itself is quite touching and the rise of Nestor, while predictable, is still fun to watch. There are some terrific songs here sung by Roger Miller who also does a fabulous job with the narration.
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Nestor and his long...
Lauren Esel7 December 2012
Finally, a children's Christmas movie that has something for the adults, too. This darling movie has an awful plot and at first might seem dull, BUT the hidden sexual innuendos make the movie worth watching. For example, it is quoted that Nestor's *hmm hmm* was as sensitive as it was long. Nestor's *hmm hmm* are also described as always "dragging on the ground." C'mon. There's also a time when all the animals in the barn are sleeping, but "Nestor was too excited," and even though his mother tries to keep them down, Nestor's *hmm hmm* keep popping up. *raises eyebrows*

You'll enjoy watching this with your children, and thinking of your own innuendos about Nestor's *hmm hmm*.

P.S. completely unrelated to this review, but my favorite part in the movie is when the roman soldiers pay the farmer with real US nickels, which are huge in the animation.
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A Deep-Hearted Holiday Tale
cairn611 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Rankin Bass has become synonymous with holiday specials, nearly every one of them centering around the commercial aspects. (Santa, gifts, etc). And for the entertainment factor on that behalf, they do a good job. However, "Nestor the Long-eared Christmas Donkey" showcases the studio's abilities in creating a story that not only entertains, but also reminds people that there is more to Christmas than presents and toys, in addition to presenting a moral lesson.

The story is a simple tale about a misfit donkey, unloved due to his large ears and untrained clumsiness, who after suffering a series of setbacks discovers that he is indeed important and of value after he successfully transports Mary and Joseph to the manger leading to the birth of Jesus. He accomplishes this through his own determination despite his past hardships.

Some viewers may find the program's content hard to stomach in some parts...there is some minor bullying of Nestor by the other characters, and of course his mother dies after sheltering him from a blizzard. But at the conclusion, one will see that even the bullies discover how wrong they assuming that Nestor was useless simply because he was different from everybody else...they were humbled just knowing that none of them would have been able to pull off what the little donkey managed to do.

The story is one of the few specials airing that focuses on the religious and true meaning of the holiday (at least for Christians). And while secular characters such as Rudolph and Santa are featured, their roles are only minor such scene being the heartwarming finale showing all the familiar faces surrounding a nativity scene reflecting on what is truly the "reason for the season".
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Still touches me...
TheLittleSongbird25 February 2011
What a lovely Christmas special from Rankin'/Bass. In fact along with The Little Drummer Boy, it is the most touching of their specials. The visuals are beautiful, the characters look convincing, the colours are homely and the backgrounds are gorgeous. I also loved the music, especially the main theme which is so beautiful and resonates with me emotionally every time.

Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey also has an engaging and poignant story that rarely has a wasted scene in its short duration, good pacing and strong writing. The characters are wonderful, all of them serve a purpose to the story, are likable and the chemistry between them is believable. Especially the title character, who is so sweet and likable that you feel sorry for him and his predicament immediately. The voice acting from the likes of Paul Frees, Don Messick and Roger Miller are top notch and fit their characters beautifully, while the ending makes me cry like a baby, same with the early parts of Nestor's life which are beautifully realised.

In conclusion, poignant, honest and timeless Christmas special that still touches me. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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Aother Christmas classic from Rankin/Bass
Here is another Christmas special from Rankin/Bass that I love. It is about a little donkey with long, long ears named Nestor, who would become the donkey who would aid Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. Now for those of you with sensitive hearts, you might cry at some scenes - just a reminder.

I thought Rankin/Bass did a good job in creating another Christmas classic, with the soundtrack, the story line, the moral (which I do not mind at all); Roger Miller (voice from Disney's Robin Hood) was superb. There is even some real history in this on the Roman Empire. So overall, I love this TV special.
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Great story, but needed to be longer
Jacuss Gerdian16 September 2009
This is about the only Christmas special that grasped my heart. But after watching Disney's Bambi and reading Felix Saltens original novel of Bambi. I noticed how for apart they were but how great Disney made the film. Most story books(Shrek, Pinnochio, etc.) have more story and random adventures that all can't be fit in. What does Disney do? He crops the story down a little to a (in respect) animated film. Looking at Nestor's special, I have to say they achieved the same thing Disney did, but there needs to be a bit more of the story. The rest of feature all depends on the "what-ifs" and "fanfic"(stories written by fans). Rankin/Bass did do a good job. But Nestor should have had a longer special to answer the questions we ask. "Why did he go back in the end" "Did Tilly purposely fall off the cloud?"
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Nestor, the sweetest
bonniehairdo196412 December 2007
I am 43, don't remember ever seeing this special when I was a kid. I watched it the first time when the Family Channel had their very first 25 Days of Christmas programming. I have watched it every year since, and bawl like a baby every time. The underdog is always the hero, but never so sweetly as in this story. Little Nestor with his way too long ears, loses his mother and is befriended by a little Cherub who tells him that he will save Someone as his mother saved him. It puts a spiritual spin on the usual "Christmas Special" line-up, where it actually has something to do with Christmas, rather than Santa or Frosty or whatever. It is a sweet story, and I think it is very kid-friendly. Mine have always loved it. It could even open up some interesting conversations about Christmas and its meaning.
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Another sweet and delightful vintage 70's TV holiday special from Rankin/Bass
Woodyanders15 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Tiny ostracized donkey Nestor has trouble fitting in because of his abnormally large ears. One fateful day Nestor gets thrown out into a raging blizzard, loses his mother, and hence has to fend for himself. Nestor embarks on a journey to Bethlehem. He's guided along the way by his helpful guardian cherub Tilly (given an endearingly hoarse voice by Brenda Vaccaro). This lovely, moving and uplifting fable about discovering your self-worth and achieving your destiny benefits greatly from its engagingly warm and simple story that has nice elements of the Disney classics "Bambi" and "Dumbo," a pleasant and positive tone, cool stop-motion animation, and a marvelous array of catchy and folksy songs (the titular number is especially charming and tuneful). Country singer/songwriter Roger Miller makes for a wonderfully amiable narrator and sings the aforementioned songs with his trademark infectiously hearty aplomb. Legendary voice actor supreme Paul Frees lends his gloriously mellifluous golden throat as both Nestor's cruel owner Olaf and a sleazy donkey dealer. Granted, this particular yuletide TV special starts out pretty sad and depressing, but eventually culminates in a truly touching happy ending. A sweet, sparkling little gem of a show.
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best thing... this... just brilliant
chrismoss232316 October 2007
I'm a 30 year old single dude with a history of lot's of sin and fun. I came from the tough guy/ party crowd and bla, bla, bla. All that biznus aside: This is the best 22 minutes of purity and tender entertainment I have found. Everything is perfect in it's own imperfection. The songs are genius, and these guys should have made 50 more films, that's all. They get it. Religious or not - the emotional levels are brilliant. I drop a tear every time. Sure, I also saw it as a kid - and that means something - but stoned, drunk, sober - I get lost every time. THIS LIL' FILM ROCKS!!! Watch it. If you have kids... put down the hip hop album (to the trash) and stick this in the DVD player. Yes, the Jewish folk as well. He wants you to. ;)
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Prettily animated, but not much story
Pal_Joey19 December 2006
The opening of this cute, but misunderstood little donkey looks terrific. The story opens with the current descendant of Nestor giving a tour of Santa's deserted house on Xmas Eve. Unfortunately, the the story takes a pretty by the numbers look at Nestor's story of humiliation and triumph. Even more unfortunately, unlike the narrator of Rudolph- here the story is almost entirely done in narration. And most of the entire story is Nestor crying about his long ears and other issues. Meanwhile the less than terrific Nestor song is sung again and again. Not the best effort by Rankin & Bass. The story needed more work. Lots more work.
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A Grueling, Miserable Story for Kids
evanston_dad18 December 2006
Does anyone still submit his children to this? I spent 22 of the most agonizing minutes of my life watching this feel-bad puppetoon made for T.V. movie. In this charmer, Nestor is mercilessly ridiculed by everyone because of his long ears, is nearly kidnapped by Roman soldiers who are stealing donkeys for use by the Empire and runs away with the help of his mom, only to watch her freeze to death during a snowstorm. Merry freakin' Christmas. Only watch this if you think that giving the Virgin Mary a ride into Bethlehem is gift enough to make up for a miserable, wretched existence. Cynic that I am, I didn't buy it.

Grade: C-
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What a great lesson...
wjosmek14 December 2006
I love the lesson in this Christmas story. Nestor is different than the rest of the donkeys, but his difference makes him the perfect animal for the job he has to do. This story also puts Jesus into the story, which many other Christmas stories for children fail to do. Roger Miller's voice is great for narration and gives the story a down home feel. The Rankin-Bass style of classic stop-action animation is once again showcased in this classic. I would recommend this story if you like the classic "Little Drummer Boy" story... it's along the same lines with a storyline of misfits being in the right place at the right time and finding out that their difference or talent that was once a hindrance has suddenly become a great asset.
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Nestor, The Year w/o Santa, and Baby New Year
lotsamagnets-121 January 2006
Boy do I love these specials! These are a few of which I grew up watching year to year! My favorite, Nestor and of course the Heat Miser, though my brother would disagree, his favorite, Cold Miser, oh well. This is a must have on DVD! Along with Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer and many others from the 70's style animation! "Have a Happy, Have a Happy, Have a Happy New Year!"

Anyone remember Cabbage Patch Christmas, how about Christmas comes to Pac-Land, too many to list here! Well that being said, The Peanuts (all of them) are classic in their own right too! Before I ramble more, TV series shows also have some quite clever Christmas themed episodes as well.
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Happy Christmas Picture--with real religious message
justfun-196721 December 2005
I have watched Nestor many times over the years. It is still one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time. As the story of the donkey who carried the pregnant Mary to Bethlehem, it has a strong religious theme. It ties in a wonderful message of acceptance and love as well. The animation is corny, and the US nickel doubling as a Roman coin is funny, but the meaning is worth the short time. Treat your kids to this story when they're young--get them hooked and keep showing it every year. Be prepared with tissues, though, if you're the soft-hearted kind. This one has me crying every year. There is nothing like a mother's love.
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A Christ centered Christmas Special, that makes an atheist cry
lostidols3 June 2005
It amazes me that even long after I gave up my Christian beliefs, this little Christmas story tugs at my heart strings so much. I guess it is because the desire for acceptance by ones peers, the sacrifice of a parent for a child, and self-sacrifice are eternal truths. All of which far exceed the fantasy of cherubs, angels, and Santa Clause.

Some people may get caught up in the low tech animation (Tilly's wires always manage to show themselves). I also get a kick out of the lame expressions on Olaf's dog's face.

This is a must see for all children. All of us think we were dealt a hard lot in life. This movie teaches children that their perceived weakness can be a real strengths. I always loved the Rudolph story, but this one hits me far harder. I highly recommend it.
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This movie is a childhood favorite!
souleander5 December 2004
Despite the shortness of this animated Christmas film it is full of moral stories of love and acceptance. It one of the most overlooked Christmas animated films. There are only so many times over a Christmas holiday month I can stand to watch "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and all those. Its a breath of fresh air to stick this one in there. I had been unable to see it for the last two Christmas Eve's because the stations in the area do not play it. This has left me slightly heartbroken because of all the family memories that go with it. I hope I can help revive it so my children someday down the road may see it and enjoy it. It really has more of the meaning of Christmas behind it and in the story. Maybe if more people were to see it they would remember the meaning of Christmas and the spirit of the holiday. Maybe others could pass this joy onto their next generations.
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Available on DVD (Secondary to "A Year Without a Santa Claus")
ann_outsider27 November 2004
For those of you who have never seen this show, please try to find it on DVD. I bought my favorite Rankin/Bass Christmas shows on DVD this year. I was very pleasantly surprised to find this favorite from my childhood on the same DVD as "A Year Without a Santa Claus" (another real fave of mine).

Sure, there are some sappy moments in Nestor, but the story is very touching and heart-warming. I wish there were more Christmas shows on television brave enough to acknowledge the birth of our lord and savior Jesus Christ as the reason for the season.

And a short response to another poster about the blizzards in Rome... the beginning of the story sets it in Europe during the Roman rule and occupation... the cherub then guides Nestor over a long period of time to a stable closer to Bethlehem. As a child I never picked up on Nestor having to wait for a while to go to Bethlehem, but seeing it as an adult it touched me that we all at times have to wait for our opportunity to serve in some way and it might not come when we want it to, but when our Father does. But I digress.... a great Christmas treat!
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