A farm girl nurses a wounded reindeer she believes is one of Santa's, hoping to bring it back to health in time for Christmas. Her holiday spirit inspires those around her, something her disheartened father is having trouble understanding.
Jessica, the daughter of an impoverished farmer, still believes in Santa Claus. So when she comes across a reindeer with an injured leg, it makes perfect sense to her to assume that it is Prancer, who had fallen from a Christmas display in town. She hides him in her barn and feeds him cookies, until she can return him to Santa. Her father finds him and decides to sell him to the butcher, not for venison chops, but as an advertising display.Written by
This movie was filmed in Three Oaks, Michigan. See more »
The reindeer playing Prancer is clearly female, even though she is referred to as "he" in the film. Both male and female reindeer have antlers, though a female's are smaller and daintier than a male's. See more »
Few movies inhabit the world of childhood quite as authentically as "Prancer." Until the very last moments, it doesn't matter whether young Jessica's belief that she has found one of Santa's reindeer is literally true. The fact that she could believe such a thing so strongly, and selflessly act on her belief to help the lost reindeer, is compelling enough on its own. Children occupy a world where naive clarity mingles with a confusing knowledge of how much of adult life remains unknown. "Prancer" creates an atmosphere that lets adults dip back into that almost-forgotten way of experiencing the world.
Sam Elliott delivers a fantastic performance as Jessica's father, a farmer who has recently lost his wife and will soon probably lose his farm. He is on the verge of losing his family, and the father-daughter relationship at the heart of the movie feels unaffectedly real. Cloris Leachman's turn as an embittered neighbor deserves note as well.
The film's greatest flaws occur in its last two minutes. First, a critical continuity error shows that the reindeer has shed a jingle-bell harness just before the sound of the harness is supposed to indicate the animal's presence. Finally, at the very end, the movie shatters its ambiguity about the literal truth of the reindeer's identity. In doing so, it negates the foundation of the story's authenticity and dramatic power, and trivializes the final reconciliation between Jessica and her father. If the reindeer is not a supernatural being, then Jessica is a silly little girl and the audience has been had. But if the reindeer is a magical beast from Santa's stable, then it is not a leap of faith for Jessica's father to accept her improbable belief in the animal. By revealing the answer one way or the other, "Prancer" cheapens itself and significantly undermines the emotional power of an otherwise subtle and moving drama.
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