The Christmas Visitor was Disney Channel’s first Christmas movie. Confusingly, it has had two other names: Miracle Down Under (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help but think that one was a little inappropriate) and Bushfire Moon. The film was written by Jeff Peck, who later adapted it into a novel, and was directed by George Miller. It was released theatrically in Australia and in Europe, according to the Great Falls Tribune.
There’s a very cute little boy in the main role (Andrew Ferguson) who reminds me of the eldest boy in The Little Kidnappers, another Disney Channel Premiere Film I watched this year. Also, it’s very cool that the mom from E.T., Dee Wallace, is the mom in this movie. Ferguson plays Ned, a little boy in 1890s Australia whose father runs a sheep ranch and can’t recover from a drought without help. There’s a scene early on at a general store indicating that the family’s hardships won’t afford them much of a Christmas celebration.
Ned is wandering in the outback and spots a man with a Santa-like beard, so he automatically assumes he’s found Mr. Claus. When Santa whips out his gun, Ned says, “It’s just me, Father Christmas. Ned O’Day!” This dude is not Santa. As D23 notes, he is depicted as “an old vagrant.” He’s financially entangled with a rich fellow who has the only source of water but will not spare any of it. There’s also a nice side story between Sarah O’Day and Angus, a boy who works for the miser. As you might imagine, the rich man decides to help the poor O’Days with the water, and they all sit down to a lovely Christmas feast in the end. Cutely, the “Visitor” mistaken for Father Christmas decides to play Santa and deliver gifts.
I hope to rewatch this film next year to dig a little deeper into its themes, as I had a little trouble keeping track of all the intimate conversations and developments throughout. Unfortunately, this one is not on Disney+, but if you happen to have seen it, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Merry Christmas!