Debuted in 1977
Plot in 3 Sentences: Peter and his goose, Lucy, see lights in the sky and the local bullies (most notably Marvin) give him a hard time for believing in aliens, but he follows the lights and finds three aliens looking for the meaning behind the Star of Bethlehem. Marvin the bully steals the goose and falls into a frozen lake and everyone is angry, but then they come together to save him and Peter invites Marvin to share Christmas with them. This makes the aliens finally understand the meaning of Christmas.
Fun Fact: This was the first production from Nelvana and it caught the attention of George Lucas, who contacted them to produce the animated segment for his Star Wars Holiday Special.
My thoughts: This really trippy holiday story is strange, for sure, but there’s also something really likeable about it. It opens with Peter enjoying the holiday season, seemingly oblivious to the cynicism of the city and people around him. In his attempt to show the aliens the meaning of Christmas, he describes it as something really wonderful and full of peace, love and joy, but as they wander through the town, what they see is very different from what he described. It makes you realize how differently we see the world as children and how harsh the world would probably seem to extraterrestrial visitors. As it’s departing, the spaceship briefly resembles an angel, which some viewers interpret to mean that the aliens were actually angels all along. Some see them as modern interpretations of the three wise men. I like the ambiguity of them and the fact that they’re so open to whatever interpretation you’d like to give them. The animation style is definitely rooted in the 70’s, a little reminiscent of Ralph Bakshi. Overall, I enjoyed this one and can see why it’s built up quite a loyal following over the years.
Individual Superlative: O Canada – This special was apparently the first big Canadian-produced holiday special and was quite a big deal there when it first came out.
Want to Watch it? A Cosmic Christmas is available on YouTube and some out of print DVDs.