Ever since I was little I've had this weird obsession with the Nativity. It all stems from a really awesome porcelain Nativity scene that my mother had that she would display each Christmas season. I can still remember sitting there for long periods of time just staring at this thing. At the moment I own ten Nativity scenes, though none of them compare to the one from my youth. And when it comes to films, I've seen a handful of them that dealt with the Nativity but none that stack up to Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass' The Little Drummer Boy.
The Little Drummer Boy isn't particularly the best looking of all the Rankin and Bass stop motion shorts. The character designs aren't as well detailed as most of their films, and the film's animation is a bit rough. Many times the characters don't seem to move smoothly, and the majority of the background characters move in limited and very stiff fashions that can get distracting at times.
But I enjoy this film a lot, mainly because I like the way it handles the character of Aaron (voice of Teddy Eccles), an orphaned drummer boy who holds a grudge against mankind after a couple of bandits killed his parents and destroyed his home. His path is crossed with that of the three Wise-Men on their way to Bethlehem, where he learns a lesson about love and the true good that humanity can bring.
The movie ends with the Vienna Boys' Choir version of "The Little Drummer Boy," which for some reason gives me chills each time I hear it. There isn't much to this film, but it manages to get me a little misty eyed towards the end each time I watch it. Again, not one of the best of the Rankin and Bass films, but certainly one I have to view each Christmas season.