A red glow illuminates the reindeer stall. Santa walks out shaking his head and wiping blood from his hands. The newborn reindeer tries to huddle against its mother for warmth.
Donner speaks in voice over. "Find the good in every moment before time takes it away from you. Fill it with your light. Fill it or feel the ache of memories. Of things you never did. Of wrongs you never corrected."
Donner turns away from his son. He walks out into the cold. His breath steams in the clarity of the arctic air. Donner speaks in voice over. "I wish I could have given you what I have. I wish those moments had been filled with the love that every living thing deserves."
The sound of a car crash. A sleigh is crumpled against a tree. The engine ticks softly in the stillness after the crash. A door opens. Santa Claus spills out onto the asphalt.
"You remake yourself with every morning." A ramrod drill instructor looks over the new reindeer recruits in a crowded auditorium. "You are not a mountain, you are a river. Yesterday you were a hero. What are you now? Anything? Nothing? Take hold of the world every day and tell it who you are."
Clarice and Rudolph curl in the leaves together. It is a primeval forest of the southern arctic. Summer is rain here. Green life between them. They have just made love for the first time.
"You are not your father," says Clarice.
"Every man is his father," says Rudolph.
They watch the clouds over their heads. The trees moving and creaking. They will never fix these moments in their minds. You can never recall the shape of a cloud or the way love feels in your heart. There is only the pain of forgetting.
A terrible snow creature fills a cave with its presence. Its scream is silent. Crumpled presents are heaped among mangled reindeer skeletons. Donner speaks in voice over.
"I wish I could protect you from this. To show you how to keep the world from making your heart as hard as mine. If I knew, I would do it. Does time make monsters of us all? Or do we choose for it to happen?"
Yukon Cornelius strikes a flare, illuminating a midnight ice floe. The flare fizzles. Dies. From the darkness, winking like the stop light of a forgotten country highway, is Rudolph's nose.
Rudolph speaks in voice over.
"You left me. You turned your back on me. Why should I guide the sleigh when you didn't even let me play any games?"
Extended Inuit musician sequence. Rudolph and Yukon Cornelius laugh and dance with Inuit girls.
Donner looks down at his son, newly born into the world. Donner speaks in voice over.
"Rudolph with your nose so bright, look at what surrounds you, at this infinity of wonder that encloses our bodies. I dwell in shame and heartbreak. Do not let them be your prison. Become more than I could."
"Rudolph. Keep us. Guide us. To the end of time."
Innuit choral music plays over aurora borealis. Rudolph's mother looks down at him nuzzling against her as a tiny newborn. The heavens bend around the earth.
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Yes, it's the perfect form for surviving a car crash. But it's also the perfect form for so much more, like surviving the trauma of reading any news headline in 2016.
It's just a little confusing, is all.
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