Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey is a stop-motion animated Christmas special produced by Rankin-Bass. It tells the story of a donkey named Nestor who eventually went on to carry Mary to Bethlehem. Roger Miller sang the majority of its musical numbers, as well as voicing the narrator, Spieltoe.
The film is narrated by Santa Claus' donkey, Spieltoe. He tells the tale of a donkey with abnormally long ears named Nestor, his ancestor who lived in the days of the Roman Empire. Every animal in the stable disliked Nestor because of his ears. One day the animals in the stable are celebrating the winter solstice. Nestor's mother gives him socks to cover his ears.
That night when Nestor is asleep, soldiers come from the Roman Empire saying they need strong donkeys. They pick a bunch of them, including Nestor, but not his mother. He tries to get away and one of the soldiers grabs the socks on his ears. They come off. The soldiers thought Olaf, the owner of the stable, was trying to trick them. He says he will give Nestor to them for free, but they are angry so they force him to give them all the donkeys for free and do not take Nestor. They leave. Olaf is angry at Nestor because he did not get any money and at the same time lost all of his donkeys, and he throws him out the door, saying that he doesn't care if he freezes to death and tells him to never come back. His mother escapes the stable and finds him. There is a blizzard going on outside by then, so she finds shelter and uses her body to cover him up. He wakes up in the morning to find her frozen to death. He cries over her loss and walks away.
A little while later, something falls out of the sky. It looks like a little girl, but one would freeze to death in the blizzard. She says she's a cherub, calling herself Tilly. She says they need to travel to Bethlehem, but she can't tell Nestor why. She only tells him a poem; "Your ears can do wondrous things no other ears can do. The sounds they hear will guide you on a path that's straight and true, and you will save another, as your mother once saved you." He disagrees at first, but she tells him that "He" wants him to. After he agrees they travel for many months across distant lands and even a sea. When they get finally get to the outskirts of Bethlehem, Tilly tells Nestor to stay there. He finds a stable to stay in and still nobody will buy him.
One day a couple comes in. Their names are Mary and Joseph. Mary is expecting a baby, and is heavy with child, so she can't walk the miles to Bethlehem and they do not have much money. They take Nestor because of his "gentle eyes". While Mary, on his back, and Joseph are traveling to Bethlehem, they are caught in a sandstorm. In its midst, Nestor hears Tilly's voice, but recognizes it as his mother's, and she tells him to follow the voices of the singing angels. He guides Mary and Joseph through the storm, wrapping Mary in his ears. They soon arrive at Bethlehem and they find a stable to stay in. Mary delivers Jesus after pushing him out with labor and Nestor finds his way back home. When he gets there, he is considered a hero and all the animals become friends with him and dance around the Nativity scene. In the present-day, Spieltoe alters a miniature Nativity scene so the donkey now looks like Nestor.
After acquiring the distribution rights for the post-1973 Rankin/Bass specials, Warner Home Video released Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey on VHS in 1993. The special was later included, along with Rudolph's Shiny New Year, on Warner Home Video's DVD and Blu-ray releases of The Year Without a Santa Claus. It was also featured on a Warner Archive manufacture-on-demand DVD with The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.
- Jingle Bells and Jangle Bells from The Year Without a Santa Claus can be seen at Santa's workshop in the opening scene. The Rudolph model from Rudolph's Shiny New Year was also reused.
- Taryn Davies, who voices Mary, was also the voice of Dolly in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
- In one shot, the guard picks up Nestor by the tail, but in the next shot, he is holding Nestor by the ears.
- The Roman guard pays Olaf with an American coin, specifically a nickel.
- Olaf appears to be of Germanic ethnicity, suggesting his farm is on the Empire's northernmost reaches. Yet it appears to take Nestor only a few days to walk between there and present-day Israel. Divine assistance might be an attractive explanation, but is not expressly stated to be the case.
- A wire is briefly seen on Tilly in her first scene.
|Paul Frees|| Olaf|
|Don Messick||Roman soldier|
|Linda Gary||Nestor's mother|
- Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey at the Internet Movie Database
- Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey at the Big Cartoon DataBase
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