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This retelling of the classic story of the simple juggler varies from
the original in certain ways, but it is still very well told and the
message shines through. The Juggler (played by Carl Carlsson, a
professional juggler whose stage name actually is Barnaby) is presented
as a tragic figure, trying to get past a terrible loss in his life. His
juggling is still top-notch, but he is just too sad a figure to make it
as a street performer. Along comes "Sparrow" (Patrick Collins in a
superb performance), who has little juggling talent but whose outlook
on life helps Barnaby rediscover some of the joy he lost. Alas, tragedy
is to touch the Juggler's life once again, and this time he finds
himself at a Catholic retreat... after renouncing his juggling for
good. In this retelling, Providence intervenes and Barnaby takes up his
craft once again, juggling (a performance you have to see to believe)
for the statue of the Blessed Virgin.
Very highly recommended. You don't have to like juggling to enjoy this movie!
When I first saw this movie on HBO when it first came out I was absolutely mesmerized! The retelling of this story was excellent and touched my very soul! I was so taken by it that I had my wife at that time look for a copy on VHS to buy! She looked high and low and finally found a video store in Manhatten that could order it! The price was $69.99 at least twice if not more than the price for an average VHS tape at that time! But I had to have it! In fact I still have it and I continue to watch it occasionally throughout the year especially during the Holiday season! It seems that no matter how often I watch it I still get all choked up with tears in my eyes at the end when he gives the gift that truly comes from the heart and to see that gift rewarded is just awesome! I'm surprised that it isn't more of a Christmas time movie than it is! Most people I speak with have never heard of or seen it and are genuinely in awe of it after I've sat them down to watch it! The only thing I wish is that it would become available on DVD! I recommend this movie for all ages and all persuasions as it tells a story that can touch all of our hearts!!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie touches the heart of anyone who has ever felt alone,
depressed, withdrawn, or felt a victim of circumstances and life's
heartbreaks. In the relationship of Barnaby and Sparrow there is a kind
of contest between sadness and meaning, between death and life. After
Sparrow's death sadness and meaninglessness seems to dominate Barnaby.
Jonas, who takes Barnaby in and then wants to sculpt his face (because
it is the saddest face he has ever seen), feels compassion and love for
Barnaby. Barnaby's hurt is so deep, no one can reach him.
His feelings of emptiness and worthlessness are heightened as Christmas Eve comes, and everyone has made something to bring to the mid-night mass. Barnaby announces that he is not going to the mass and that he will be leaving them. He has nothing to give. But, he stays around until everyone else has gone and then finds his way to the altar where he sees all of the gifts that others have brought.
It is at the altar, alone, that a miracle begins to occur. Sparrow appears to him. He has been Barnaby's encourager in the past, offering Barnaby a choice of life. Again, he encourages Barnaby to pick up the juggling things that someone has brought to the altar. Barnaby slowly begins to get in touch again with his own soul through his gift of juggling. It is all he has, and he gives it fully and without reservation and puts on an incredible juggling performance before the statue of Mary. His heart of stone had come to life, and the stone image of the Blessed Mother responded by dropping to him the rose she had held in her hands.
This is a must view for me, especially during the Christmas Season. After it first came out in 1984, it was shown during Christmas for the first few years, but then disappeared. I missed it and would occasionally long to see it again at Christmas. So, I eventually found a tape on the Internet and can now continue to make it a part of my Christmas.
I, like many others who have been touched by this movie, highly recommend it.
This is indeed a very engaging retelling of this classic tale. Carl
Carlsson, professional juggler, proves a very competent actor as well.
Although filming techniques have advanced greatly since 1984, the
approach here is well matched to the mature themes of this story. Shot
in California, the modern setting has a "timeless" quality to it that
brings home the perennial message of this "play". I don't believe any
viewer will fail to be touched profoundly.
I have purchased this in DVD format for a school library, and will probably recommend it for junior high and up. The DVD was released through Gateway Films/Vision Video. Check out www.visionvideo.com.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have vague memories of watching this 45-minute special on the
Philadelphia ABC affiliate when I was a child, back in 1983 or 84. To
be honest, all I remembered were scenes of the Juggler walking through
fields with his goofy friend in tow, and the climactic scene with the
Mary statue. When the DVD appeared on Netflix, I jumped at the chance
to watch this again and to kindle some nostalgia.
What a pleasant surprise to discover that this brief, kindhearted special holds up very well and is still effective all these years later. The cinematography, sound, and soundtrack all date it as being made in the early '80s, but that doesn't stop the story from being compelling or the characters from being appealing.
I made a VHS tape of this excellent movie around 1985 and have watched
it each Christmas Eve as a reminder of the gifts we all have, but
sometimes don't realize our talents. I believe this film may have been
a TV Christmas movie special for several years in the 1980s.
This film is a must see for anyone, especially good for a Christmas Eve family showing. I've noticed the title on my copy shows only 'The Juggler' and wonder if there might be confusion when people look for this film as apparently the correct title is 'The Juggler of Notre Dame." A search on IMDb will not find it when searching for the abbreviated title.
I notice all the reviews here are positive and I agree completely. A great movie with a great message. I fail to have dry eyes at the ending each time I watch.
i started watching 1 year around Christmas time and was in awe of it made the wife finish watching it with me it was a tear jerker for sure very good story wish it would come on again and come out on DVD everyone needs to see it loved it. as i say any would enjoy this movie it would be a good one for the kids to watch and learn a valuable lesson about what it is to give and get a gift so if you never seem the movie hunt it down request television stations to play it you will not be disappointed it did bring tears to my eyes to watch it my wife even cried then we never did see it again i've asked everyone no one's heard of it they need to
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