All Aboard!: The Sleigh Ride (TV)
R2 - United Kingdom - Arrow Films
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (18th November 2016).
The Show

For most people Christmas is a wonderful time of the year (I'm trying not to break into a song, people, but I can't promise I won't). It's a time for families (I did say most people), presents, plenty of food and drink and a chance to forget Trump, Clinton, Brexit and all the other horrible things that are going on just outside your front door. However, the days leading up to the 25th of December can be fraught with anxiety. Christmas shopping, finding the Christmas tree and decorations and putting them up. Writing all the Christmas cards and battling with other shoppers in Tesco or Sainsburys as people fight over the last packet of mince pies. And nothing can be more boring than the seemingly endless task of wrapping all the presents or putting little Timmy's new bike together (that thoughtfully has arrived on Christmas Eve in 215 different parts, all needing a different spanner or Allen key, none of which you have.) Well, salvation has arrived.

This stress busting DVD is the perfect antidote to all the trials and tribulations that the season may bring (although a bottle of nice red one is also recommended). This two hour long programme was the surprise hit of the holiday season last year when it premièred on BBC 4 giving people a decent reason to put the television on and not have to watch another repeat of 'that' 'Only Fools and Horses' episode. 'All Aboard!' is a simple programme where you are invited to hop on a sleigh in Karasjok, Norway and travel with the people of the region, the Sami, as they traverse an area seldom seen by people from outside of that part of the country. The sleigh slowly winds it's way forward. First the reindeer and it's cargo are led by a member of the Sami tribe before the whole convoy picks up pace and we are right there with them. Interesting nuggets of information about the Sami people and the region are occasionally displayed, tastefully, on screen but for the most part it's just you, the sleigh, the reindeer and the driver. The camera angles do change. Sometimes we can see the sleigh from behind, and sometimes we get a view back at the hard working reindeer but mainly it's just a forward view and what a view it is. Filmed at 10 am in the morning, in temperatures lower than -20 c, this is place where the sun barely rises above the horizon for the whole of winter. This gives the spectacular views of the forests and mountains a beautiful, ethereal quality and is quite memorising.

There is no commentary, no music, no presenter present just the sound of the reindeer's hooves on the packed now and the tinkling of the bells that hang from the sleigh. So if you have some boring task to complete this Christmas, or simply have little ones that are too excited to sleep on Christmas Eve, turn down the lights, pour yourself a (large) glass of wine (you've earned it) and watch as the children drift off to sleep with their heads filled with the joys of the season. Very much recommended (wine not included).

Video

Presented in an anamorphic ratio of 1.78:1 this is the original aspect ratio of the programme that aired on BBC 4 last December and will fill your screen with joy. The picture quality is sharp as a razor and the scenic views are outstandingly beautiful and well realised on this DVD. The only thing missing is the smell of reindeer (although you could always leave your dog outside in the rain for an hour or so to get that 'completely authentic experience).

Audio

A simple, but effective 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo soundtrack is employed here. Despite there being no music or twittering presenter present the soundtrack on this DVD is of vital importance to the enjoyment of the programme. The noises of the reindeer, the runners of the sleigh on the snow and the occasional, gentle urgings of the Sami driver enhance the experience no end. Everything is clear and calming and pretty much perfect. There are no subtitles on this disc because there are no words to subtitle.

Extras

No extras.

Overall

Such a simple concept and yet such a relaxing and wonderful experience. In the hectic lifestyles of most people today it is a treat just to sit in a darkened room, cuddling up with your favourite pet (or partner, if you must) with a glass of your favourite tipple letting the Sami people carry you deep into regions of Norway, 200 miles outside the Arctic Circle, across beautiful snowy vistas. And you don't even need to put your gloves or boots on (although you may if you wish...You weird people). Recommended.

The Show: A Video: A Audio: A Extras: F Overall: B

 


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