In my previous post I mentioned St. Nicholas Day and this feast day's importance in other countries. Before December 6, 2007—otherwise known as St. Nicholas Day—is over, let’s take a look at Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates. The classic book by American author Mary Mapes Dodge was adapted for Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, and colorful story that it is, it was showcased on the NBC TV series during its inaugural season (1961-1962) on January 7 and 14, 1962. Famously set in Holland, Hans Brinker features a key scene centering around a visit from St. Nicholas, for as Santa Claus (the name is of course derived from Saint Nicholas) visits American children on Christmas Eve, so St. Nicholas leaves gifts for Dutch children on St. Nicholas Eve (Dec. 5).
Walt Disney’s version of Hans Brinker was filmed on location near Camperdin and Volendam in Holland, and at Rembrandt’s Amsterdam home. Incredibly, the climatic skating race was filmed in Sweden near the Arctic Circle when the earliest Spring in 200 years melted the Netherlands’s frozen canals, and windmills were built at the Swedish location to make the snowy surroundings seem authentically Dutch. The authenticity of the settings was augmented by young Rony Zeander who was an artist himself and in, playing aspiring artist Hans, the actor did his own onscreen canvas work. The production was written and directed by Disney TV stalwart, Norman Foster, who had directed Disney’s Davy Crockett and Zorro, and this highly budgeted TV production was of such quality that it was released to movie theaters outside the US. If you’d like to enjoy Hans Brinker this holiday season it’s one of the few vibrant treasures from Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color available on DVD , although this version is the somewhat abbreviated theatrical release.