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Terry Pratchett fans long waited for the transformation of Discworld tales into visuals. Computer games, animations and stage productions were all right in their place, but film adaptations are the mark of success. Pratchett resisted adaptations because most producers "didn't get it". Vadim Jean "got it" and has made the story of "Hogfather" into a fine film presentation. As a TV production, there are limitations and omissions, but these do not detract from the success of Jean's efforts to bring Pratchett's story of intrigue, power and imagination to the small screen.

But what of the newcomer to Pratchett and his Discworld? Will they gain the same satisfaction from the visual presentation of one of the more compelling [and best-selling] authors of the past generation? The DVD opens with a Bang. Not a very Big one, but enough to discharge a wondrous sight - a disc sitting atop four elephants who stand on the carapace ["shell"] of a giant tortoise. The vision certainly imparts the feeling that something unusual will follow. Which it does: a young governess is reading "Jack And The Beanstalk" to a pair of youngsters on Hogswatch Eve. Tucking them in, Susan notes: "If you don't believe in the Hogfather, there won't be any presents." It is the film's key statement.

For the Hogfather has gone missing. This may be because the Auditors of the Universe, who resent life and loathe humans because they're unpredictable, have commissioned Guild of Assassins to have the Hogfather "brought to an end". The Guild's Head assigns the job to a young Assassin, Mister Teatime ["Tee-ah tim-eh, most people get it wrong, Sir."] who has already devised a plan to accomplish it. Teatime gathers a team to put his plan into effect. This scheme starts by kidnapping the Tooth Fairy. Wot?

Meanwhile, across town, the wizards of the Unseen University are experiencing some bizarre events. Strange new beings enter their lives - not entirely strange, however, since they all seem to represent tales of their childhood. Among the wizards is one who has constructed HEX, a "thinking machine". You can tell what it is from the label "Anthill Inside" pasted on one side. Archchancellor Ridcully is suspicious of such devices, but thinks he can make HEX do his bidding by mere shouting.

Throughout these events, an Anthropomorphic Personification, known as Death, feels an imbalance in the universe. Discovering the Hogfather has failed to go out on his rounds delivering gifts, Death dons a red suit, a false beard and, with his assistant Albert, undertakes the role. Death is interested in humans, finding their habits and prejudices fascinating, and he wants to know more about them. The rituals of Hogswatch [Christmas] are but one aspect. Those rituals extend from deep time and are thereby fundamental. Resolution of the Hogfather's disappearance and the Teatime Gang's invasion of the Tooth Fairy's castle are gently woven into the film's concluding scene. There are many threads and the novice Discworld viewer will note there are many levels to the story. That's what turns the first Discworld encounter into a habit.

There are "big names" in this film - listed lead David Jason does a fine job as Albert, while Ian Richardson's voice of Death is peerless. The surprise here is Michelle Dockery, who picks up this film early and keeps it essentially hers throughout. She is relatively unknown, but won't be after this. As a robed "skellington", Death is hardly visually appealing, but Richardson's inflections on Pratchett's text keep us smiling. Unlike many "fantasy" or SciFi films, "Hogfather" relies on little in the way of "special effects beyond Death's character. Some snow stops falling and a few sparkling things are used, but the story is too straightforward to need extra dazzlement. As with Pratchett's stories it's the characters and what they tell us that counts. Watch this and see. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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on May 22, 2008
As a long time discworld addict, I was prepared to forgive almost anything from someone who was brave enough to bring 'Hogfather' to life, but it turned out there was nothing to forgive. Vadim Jean has captured the spirit of the story perfectly even though he was forced to omit many wonderful scenes and details that didn't make it from book to movie. My seven year old son has become extremely fond of Death (not death!), which is a testament to the genius of Terry Pratchett, Ian Richardson (THE VOICE) and the others involved, the Grim Reaper is not usually such a sympathetic character. The movie may not make perfect sense to a non-Disworld fan, but certainly will pique his/her interest in the rest of the series. Most of the characters, especially Susan and the assassin Teatime were pitch-perfect. Even the actor playing Nobby Nobbs got the personality down, although Nobby's unique physical characteristics would be almost impossible to duplicate without CG effects. I am looking forward to the next live-action adaptation of the Discworld.
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on July 29, 2008
I know this starts out wrong, but please bear (bare) with me ;)

I've only read the first Terry Pratchett's novel, Color of Magic, and quite frankly, I read the first chapter or so and let it sit for a 1/2 to 3/4 of a year. Once I picked it up again, however, the pages flew by and I finished it quite promptly. It was an extremely colorfull depiction of an alternate universe that had very close ties to our own. Of course, being fantasy, or literal fantasy, it resembles more of the english speaking folklore and mythology, than any actual historical events. Now take all that, give it a, stir, a chop or two, infuse some octarine, and you have Discworld.

This was the information I had going into viewing this wonderful film. To say the least, it was a wonderful show that entertained me to the core. Extremely well done, the focus here is on the actual work done by Mr. Prachett. It doesn't have the Hollywood abundant budget, but more than makes do with the resources that were available to it. Vadim Jean (adaption and director) has used the gift of ingenuity to create a truly spectacular and heart warming family holiday masterpiece. I was spell-bound and in awe of this great work of art.

If you're looking for a magical slaughter-fest, this isn't it (although the death count is higher than most movies). If you're looking for a story that has been dramtically reproduced with loving care about us as a whole, with a definately UK slant at humor, this is a show for you (heck, it even attracted the attention of my 15 year old boy to stop and watch).

So in summary, I had rented it, but as soon as it is available I'll be purchasing a copy of this to view each holiday season. There is just something about it that calls to you and make you think Hogswatch, er I mean Christmas ;)
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Twas the night before Hogwatch, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring... because the only person stirring was Death in a Hogsfather costume.

And fortunately the BBC's first live-action adventure in Terry Pratchett's Discworld is a brilliant affair -- faithful, hilarious, and full of intricate plotting and gutsplitting satire. It also manages to mingle the unsentimental observations about human nature with a feel-good message -- not an easy thing to do, especially in a Christmas-related movie.

On the night before Hogswatch, the Auditors enlist the Assassins' Guild for a very special job: "delete" the Hogfather. For this, Lord Downey calls on the psychotically childlike Mr. Teatime (Marc Warren), who has already figured out ways to kill the Hogfather, Soulcake Duck, and even Death. Soon Death (Ian Richardson) finds that the Hogfather has vanished --and takes on the Hogfather's duties for the night, much to the disgust of his granddaughter Susan (Michelle Dockery).

But realizing that something is very seriously wrong with the world, Susan begins investigating the origins of the Hogfather, and the terrible reasons that he has vanished. Mr. Teatime and a locksmith, wizard and trio of thieves have infiltrated the Tooth Fairy's castle and have somehow contrived to erase the Hogfather. And the wizards -- after opening a lethal bathroom for the bombastic Ridcully (Joss Ackland) -- learn that strange creatures are coming into existence, such as the Verruca Gnome and the Eater of Socks (not to mention Bilious, the Oh God of Hangovers).

Now Susan must somehow find a way to bring back the Hogfather -- or else despite all Death's best efforts ("And what do you want, small human?") the world will lose much more than a jolly fat anthropomorphic personification.

Watching "The Hogfather," it's pretty obvious that the people involved loved the the original book It's extremely faithful to the original Terry Pratchett novel (including in-jokes and cameos) and has the same offbeat weirdness ("TO THE LAUNDRY!"). And while the four main subplots seem scattered and sometimes unclear, as the movie goes on they intertwine tightly and suddenly become very relevant to one another.

And since this is based on a Pratchett book, we're graced with some cynical views on humanity and the nature of belief -- and occasionally touching moments, like Death rescuing a little match girl. There's even a bittersweet edge near the end when Susan confronts the core of the Tooth Fairy's castle, and finds something very unexpected there.

But along the way, we're treated to plenty of hilarious dialogue ("Have you been a good l... a good n... a good individual?"), wildly bizarre slapstick moments (Ridcully scalding himself with Old Faithful) and in-jokes (the inventions of Bloody Stupid Johnson). Barely a scene goes by without something to laugh at, whether it's Teatime's hysterically sick behavior or Death's attempts at yuletide jollity (including a list of things to do at each house, ending with a halfhearted "ho ho ho").

The brilliant comedy hits a high note when Death invades a shopping mall so he can have the children tell him what they want ("And be good. This is part of the arrangement." "All right!" "Then we have a contract"), much to the dismay of the store owner ("He's sitting in his grotto, bold as brass... GIVING AWAY PRESENTS!"

Dockery makes a magnificent Susan -- a little chilly, very strong-willed and determined to be as normal as possible. Warren is a delightfully creepy Teatime with his mismatched eyes and childish voice, and the late Ian Richardson was simply great as Death, whether he's being benevolent or sinister ("Have you been naughty... OR NICE?"). In fact all the actors do a brilliant job -- the wizards, the thieves, and the weird little kids that Susan babysits.

"The Hogfather" is a Christmas movie with a Discworld edge -- meaning it's funny and unique, but also riddled with deeper messages and sharp satire. Definitely a must-see during the holidays.
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on April 14, 2009
Hogfather the movie is the best film adaptation of a book I've come across. Sadly not all the characters in the book could be included in the storyline of the film but you wont miss what's left out. If you are a fan of Terry Pratchett's novel you should really like this movie. He even has a small cameo role at the end of the film. Only one change in the film I didn't agree with and you'll have to read the book to find out what it is. They are now filming Colour of Magic based on Pratchetts first Discworld Novel and possibly Wee Free Men. Let it be true!!
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on May 5, 2013
I bought Hogfather because I Iove Terry Pratchett's work. I am not normally a reader of either fantasy or science fiction, but what Pratchett writes is brilliant and very funny satire about our world, disguised as the imaginary Discworld. If Hogfather and Pratchett's other works are "mere fantasy" so is Gulliver's Travels. Where Swift and Pratchett differ, however, is in Pratchett's huge generosity of spirit and affection for his characters. Where Swift points out our human flaws with "savage indignation", Pratchett does it through laughter. Susan and Death are among my favourite characters.
The video is brilliantly done, faithful to the work, superbly acted by a cast of some of Britain's best performers, and with very high production values. I would say exactly the same of the other video I purchased, The Colour of Magic. I watched a friend's video of Going Postal. Same thing. I haven't seen any of the animated versions. Not sure I want to.
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on April 12, 2010
OK, I admit, I'm a huge fan of Terry Pratchett. So it is even more important to me that the adaptation be just right. Of course, since Mr. Pratchett had a hand in writing it, I should not be surprised that it is so good!

Not only is the story well told, but the production is excellent, the special effects beautiful and the actors just plain perfect. Especially Marc Warren as Mr. Teatime (pronounce tee-ah-ty-mee) who was as freaky as I imagined (and oh so polite!) and Michelle Dockery as Susan, Death's grand-daughter. I also found that Ian Richardson's performance as the voice of Death was even better than Christopher Lee's (oh sacrilege!).

The DVD has no audio selection or sub-titles but the sound and colours are of good quality. I would have liked sub-titles as English is my 2nd language and sometimes I don't always understand but I enjoyed it so much, I did not care!
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on December 21, 2009
I like the way the characters were portrayed and think the casting was done quite well. I imaged Teatime a little differently and it put me off the first time I watched it, but he grew on me as the actor's version outperformed the one in my memory. Susan Death is perfect and Nobby is just ma.. dwa.. gno.. being enough to be exactly right. Albert is very well played and makes for a brilliant elf 'uncle heavy'.

I only wish more of Terry Pratchetts works received the same treatment.

I can also suggest the movie version of Colour of Magic with Sean Astin and Tim Curry.
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on March 1, 2011
It's a good movie, based off of Terry Pratchett's book of the same name. Those who already read the book will enjoy the movie more; those who didn't, could be bored one's or twice.
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on February 12, 2016
The Hogfather! This is the cleverest, funniest movie and for our family, a must see for the Christmas season. It is faithfully based on the late, great, Terry Pratchett's book of the same title, and is about a mythical world's version of Christmas and the attendant characters (ie Santa and elves, tooth fairies, villains and boogeymen. Sir Ian Richardson plays the part of DEATH....with humour and panache. After the kids are in bed Christmas night, sit down with a pot of tea and some shortbread and enjoy.
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