Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)

nestor the long eared christmas donkey dvd cover
3.0 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 4/10

Not much

Too much to get into

TV Show Info

TV Show Name: Nestor, The Long-Eared Donkey

Studio: Rankin/Bass

Genre(s): Cartoon/Seasonal

Release Date(s): December 3, 1977

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

nestor the long eared christmas donkey dead mother claymation

I have freakish long ears and my mom’s dead because of me…

Nestor’s ears are a problem.  From birth, they have caused him nothing but pain.  His family was rejected because of his ears, and his mother died protecting him.  Now, Nestor learns that his ears might have a purpose, and Nestor begins a journey to Bethlehem with a cherub named Tilly and a mission that could change the world.

Directed by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass, Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey is a Rankin/Bass production along the lines of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town.  It premiered December 3, 1977 and still regularly airs during the holiday season.  Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey is also often packaged with other Rankin/Bass holiday specials

nestory the long eared christmas donkey tilly angel

Nestor…I was wrong. You are a freak

I honestly did not see this special as a kid.  Even the networks realized that Nestor was pushing it.  It was only after videos, DVDs, and cable channels devoted to Christmas that I encountered Nestor…unfortunately.

The story of Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey is the first problem with the special.  The special tries to get everyone by starting out with an introduction by Nestor’s relative who works at the North Pole with Santa’s elves.  It then goes for the religious viewer by going to the birth of Christ and telling how Nestor’s freakish ears saved the Virgin Mary (I kind of forget that part of the Bible, but if it is on TV it must be true).  It has the traumatic, horrible death of Nestor’s mother who freezes to death to save her son…that won’t mess up a kid on Christmas Eve.  Even with all these little plot tweaks, it mostly feels like Dumbo crossed with Rudolph and an attempt to capitalize on other claymation specials of the time.

nestor the long eared christmas donkey mary joseph

I bet I’m remember forever!!!

Nestor just feels extremely uninspired and like Rankin/Bass just needed another Christmas special.  While Rudolph and the other specials have a good story, Nestor feels like complete rehash and not even good rehash at that.  Generally, the claymation animation of Rankin/Bass specials can at least reel you in, but here it doesn’t.  The animation does not seem as smooth or tender as any of the specials…even The Little Drummer Boy which also feels very forced.  Tilly (voiced by Brenda Vaccaro) doesn’t even seem to be used very well.  If the story is a fictional Bible story, it seems like they could have had more fun with the script.

If Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey is playing, tune in to something better…anything better.  It seems like there should be some other Christmas special or Christmas movie that could be a better use of your time and that children and the family will enjoy.  Avoid this special, long-eared or not, Nestor is a dud (plus then you won’t be able to get that god-awful country song out of your mind!)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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