Journey to the Christmas Star is a classic Norwegian fantasy film, which has captured the imagination of children in Europe since 1976.
This weekend, more than 35 years after it first hit the big screen, children in Dubai were given the chance to see a long-awaited remake of the magical movie.
More than 1,000 youngsters put on their glad rags and walked their first red carpet at the children’s gala screening at this year’s Dubai International Film Festival. Posing for photographers and film crews children of all ages made the most of their special day at the Madinat Arena.
Thanks to repeated television screenings – Journey to the Christmas Star, or Reisen til julestjernen in its native Norwegian, is shown every Christmas without fail across Scandinavia.
The 1976 film is based on a stage play from 1924 by Sverre Brandt, which occasionally is still staged, most recently in 2010 in Oslo.
Oscar-nominated director Nils Gaup, at the helm of this latest remake, says the new adaptation uses original material from the 1920s stage production and is a true adaptation of the source material.
“I am just thrilled to be bringing this movie to Dubai,” he told tabloid! on the red carpet. Dressed in a black suit and having posed for snappers with the rest of the cast members, Gaup said he was over whelmed by the number of children arriving at the theatre. “It really is something special. This was a difficult movie to film because it was cold and we were working very long days. That’s tough with adults but with children it is even more of a challenge.”
However Gaup says the process was entirely worth it to see the children’s faces today. “It is an honour to make such a classic movie for me. I know it means so much to people from where I am from but to also share it with children half way around the world is very rewarding.”
Kind-hearted 13-year-old Sonja, played by first-time actress Vilde Zeiner, arrives at a tiny village together with a company of bandits unaware the village is cursed. When the King’s only daughter Goldhair disappeared while searching for the Christmas Star causing her mother The Queen to die of a broken heart, the shattered king cursed the Christmas star leaving the kingdom in darkness.
However, an old sage reveals Goldhair is still alive, and will return only if the King finds the way back to the Christmas Star. Sonja vows to help and a magical journey begins.
Walking one of her first red carpets, child star Zeiner, says she was “shocked” to see how many lights were on her. “This is my first film,” she told tabloid!. “It has been such an amazing experience and one day I hope to be a famous actress. We made the movie in the snow and here it is so hot. I don’t know if it ever snows here,” said the 13-year-old.
Joined by famous Scandinavian actress Agnes Kittelsen who plays her mother in the film, Zeiner added one day she would like to be as famous as the elder co-star. “I have learned so much making this film and I want to learn more. It was long hours but I never felt tired. I wanted to keep going all the time.”
Gaup, Norway’s most successful director for the last 25 years, has directed hits such as Head above Water (remade with Cameron Diaz), the original Pathfinder, and the Oscar-nominated pirate epic Håkon Håkonssen.