Journey to the Christmas Star

A Christmas classic

Image courtesy of Films of Norway
Hanne Krogh stars in the 1976 Norwegian Christmas film classic Reisen til julestjernen—Journey to the Christmas Star—shown on Norwegian television each holiday season and available for streaming.

Films of Norway

You probably have some favorite Christmas movies. Maybe it’s one from your childhood, youth, or adulthood. That said, often common themes emerge in these Christmas films.

What many Norwegian Christmas films have in common is that they are about elves, porridge, snow, and often the action is set on a farm. But one thing is certain, Norwegian Christmas films usually are about family gatherings and relationships.

Reisen til julestjernen—Journey to the Christmas Star— is about all of this, but instead of being about an ordinary family on a farm, this film takes place in a castle and the lead characters are none less than the king, queen, and princesses.

You might think that when you have a setting already filled with royal glitter and splendor with Christmas decorations and trinkets to boot that the total effect would be too much. But in this case, with the action set far back in time, it actually works incredibly well.

The short version of the story is that a little princess in a little fairy-tale kingdom disappears on Christmas Eve. She was just going out for a walk to see the Christmas star, but then she disappears and never comes back. The king and queen curse the Christmas star, which causes it to go out and cease to shine for the people of the kingdom. But then, something happens when a young girl, Sonja, makes her entrance into the kingdom.

This was how the advertising for the film described the plot at the time when Journey to the Christmas Star was released in cinemas across the country.

The film was a huge success, both at the cinema and not least on TV. Believe it or not, Journey to the Christmas Star became so popular on TV that the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK, shows it every Christmas! It has become a so-called “mega classic.”

A colleague of mine who works at NRK once said, “We are convinced that if we fail to show Journey to the Christmas Star during the holiday season, we can expect a storm on all fronts. The viewers wouldn’t accept that, and, of course, we’re not taking that risk. It’s almost like a social responsibility.”

Yes, the film is very well-made and very well-acted, and it is a Christmas drama for the whole family. But I think that part of the explanation for its popularity is to be found in the title song, which was sung so beautifully by Hanne Krogh. The melody stands well on its own two feet in that it is both catchy and beautiful in its relatively simple way.

Hanne Krogh not only sings the title melody, but she also plays the lead role in the film. Her singing career gained extra momentum after Journey to the Christmas Star was released, and it is difficult to imagine that someone other than Hanne could play this role better.

Haven’t you seen Journey to the Christmas Star yet? Are you looking for perhaps the most watched classic Norwegian Christmas film for this Christmas? Then I would recommend that you settle into the universe mentioned here. It may be a film experience that you will remember for a long time to come. There is something special and magical about this film that is a little difficult to put into words even though I have seen it many times.

Merry Christmas and happy streaming!

Journey to the Christmas Star

Screenwriter: Axel Helgeland

Director: Ola Solum

Cinematography: Hans Nord

Producer: Harald Ohrvik

Production year: 1976

Run time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Genre: Family / Christmas

Cast: Hanne Krogh, Knut Risan, Bente Børsum, Ingrid Larsen, Alf Nordvang, Harald Heide-Steen Jr., Rolf Just Nilsen

This article originally appeared in the December 2, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Geir Mæland

Geir Mæland is the founder and manager of Films of Norway, a Norwegian film-streaming service based in Stavanger, Norway.