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Press Reviews


«The fourth installment of «Olentzero,» the only franchise to emerge from our cinema, is a pleasant surprise. Without being a connoisseur or expert in this saga, I have the impression that it has evolved in the right direction, and that it can now compete confidently with foreign productions in digital animation. I believe that the incorporation of Gorka Vázquez into the project was providential, as one cannot do better when making a commissioned work. It is hoped that in his next contribution to the genre with «The Wish Fish,» he will achieve the international recognition that he already seems to be pointing towards, judging by what we have seen. Sometimes it is said that certain children’s films are not suitable for adults, pure mental discrimination that «Olentzero eta Iratxoen Jauntxoa» does not fall into, as it contains enough magic to captivate any type of viewer, including cinephiles. Its planning is one hundred percent cinematic, taking advantage, as Spielberg said about «The Adventures of Tintin,» that there are no physical obstacles to camera movement within the universe of computer-generated images.

The overhead shots of Olentzero’s flight, transformed into an owl, are overflowing with fantasy. The lighting work is equally creative, as are the movement details, especially amusing in the rhythmic steps taken by the mayor, a short and plump character. It’s like a fun choreography, to which the spectacular soundtrack composed by Joserra Gutiérrez and performed by the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra contributes. The inspiration of the score does not overuse recognizable popular themes, just as the traditional song «Badator Olentzero» is saved for the end, even though there is a school Christmas carol competition in the plot. The film is open to universal iconography, with a design for Iratxo that strongly resembles Peter Jackson’s Gollum or the retired people who look like Jim Henson puppets.»

Mikel Insausti, Diario Gara.

«Olentzero, the gift-bearing man with a sack, returns in the fourth installment of the only franchise to emerge from our cinema. Since the transition to digital animation, which buried the memories of the good old days of ‘Karramarro uhartea’ and ‘Ipar aizearen erronka’, pencils have become expensive, and returning to the past is impossible. That’s why the success of our Mungia charcoal maker’s latest reincarnation depends on the performance of a first-time director in charge of the children’s franchise. The verdict is simple: he fulfills his duty with flying colors. And that’s not easy, you know? Taking on a commissioned project with a guaranteed release – in a way – is a handicap that Gorka Vázquez overcomes by emphasizing language, planning, and camera movements. These arguments become more noticeable as the lazy eye of the viewer censures the static nature of the emotionally rigid characters.

The message of ‘Olentzero eta iratxoen jauntxoa’ is the usual one – it can’t be any other way – but the tone is different, even though the means of achieving this effect include the folklorization of instantly recognizable foreign designs. Say hello to Gollum and Donkey, and have a real laugh with the distant relatives of Statler and Waldorf and their mockery from the privileged box of a baserri. All this before, during, and after embarking on an adventure that puts us on the trail of Iratxo, a mischievous elf determined to put Olentzero and Anje (his assistant) in trouble.

Putting aside much of the erratic intentions of the earlier installments starring Olentzero, which were somewhere between rural politics and trade unionism, ‘Olentzero eta iratxoen jauntxoa’ throws caution to the wind in pursuit of an adventure that is easy to connect with immediately, especially if one closes their eyes to budgetary limitations while opening their ears to an exquisite soundtrack.»

Josu Eguren, El Correo.

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