It is the darkness, death and despair brought on by urban poverty, and the joy and happiness generated by good will at Christmas that provides the two contrasting themes of Dickens' work. It's fair to argue then, that any A Christmas Carol film worth its salt must convey the warmth and frivolity of Christmas time, through key scenes such as Scrooge's introduction to Christmas morning by the ghost of Christmas present and the Cratchit family Christmas dinner.
It must likewise demonstrate the gloom and misery of scenes such as the Ghost of Christmas Present unveiling the allegorical twin children of 'ignorance' and 'want' to Scrooge and the Cratchits grieving for the late Tiny Tim spoiler alert. Arguably, however, despite its deserved place in the pantheon of British literary classics, there has yet to be a truly great cinematic adaption of Dickens' work.
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For many of us, the only version that sticks in the mind may well be of the Muppet based variety, or perhaps the Alastair Sim film, arguably the closest we have had yet to a 'classic' version of the story. Yet many different adaptations exist, many of them unknown, and most likely unseen, by the general public.
I thought it was about time, therefore, that somebody stepped up and took on the task of wading through the assorted versions of A Christmas Carol so that at this festive season, we can truly know which offerings are worth seeking out. It turns out that this last category was easily the most competitive. Scrooge is played by Seymour Hicks as a wide-eyed and angry old scruff.
The actor regularly played Scrooge onstage and would go on to reprise the role in the sound version. The main distinguishing characteristic of this adaptation is that it dispenses with the three Ghosts of past, present and future and instead has Marley stand in for all three.
Ghost of Christmas Presents
The whole film is made all the eerier thanks to some very well selected backing music which accentuates the haunting moments perfectly. This third silent offering is even shorter than Old Scrooge and so omits an even greater chunk of the original story. Russell Thorndike is suitably grumpy in the lead role, and all the ghosts are shown on screen, but of the three silent versions, this was not only the least enjoyable, but also suffered due to the fact that it was the worst preserved print of the three. It feels a little churlish to criticise a film from 90 years ago for looking a bit fuzzy, though, so maybe we can let that slide.
The decision to not show the apparition of Marley and instead have Ebenezer talking to an empty chair like a Victorian Clint Eastwood is frankly ridiculous, as the film loses its ghostly element somewhat if the spirits are never even shown. A lack of effects expertise seems an unlikely reason for this, given that earlier silent films had managed to include ghosts to a pretty decent standard. One can only assume, therefore, that it is a foolhardy artistic decision. There are three distinct takes on the Scrooge character which actors and directors have opted for over the years.
Reginald Owen is a fairly bland and unmemorable Scrooge, edging more towards the pompous blowhard side of the character, but the actor never really convinces as an elderly man and there is some fairly visible age make-up on show throughout. This version also has the first in a long line of nauseating Tiny Tims. Maybe that says more about me than him, though.
It may not win prizes for its dynamism, but aided by a strong cast and wonderfully fuzzy soft lighting, it warms the cockles regardless. A TV special narrated by Vincent Price with sets seemingly borrowed from a local school Christmas play and a cast with decidedly American accents.
Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come
I thought about putting that into more erudite and critical language, but came to realise it already summed up the situation perfectly. This is arguably the movie version of A Christmas Carol to which all others are compared. Alastair Sim is absolutely superb as Scrooge, constantly disgruntled with the world; he is a mean and uncaring old man, but with a visible inner pain which few other Scrooges convey. Dickens was surprisingly vague about both of these facts, and it seems to vary from film to film.
The issue of Fan dying while giving birth to Fred is also never directly referenced by Dickens, but it crops up in several of the film adaptations. Fully deserving of its place as a Christmas classic. An all-singing, all-dancing film starring Albert Finney in the titular role. The other ghosts in this version are a bit strange, the ghost of Christmas Past is just some non-descript old dear and the ghost of Christmas present opts to get Scrooge pissed in order to make him more cheerful. Seems obvious now you think about it. The sight of some topless hooded demons, looking like extras from a Flash Gordon movie, dragging a chain around a screaming Scrooge, is frankly a bit much.
A Christmas Carol | work by Dickens | giphycunori.cf
Admittedly, I only have a very limited knowledge of musicals and their merits, but it seems to me that the songs are all fairly average, though they are still annoyingly catchy be warned. The Cratchit family are all irritatingly chipper throughout, although credit must go to the filmmakers for actually having a family of cockneys playing the roles of this working class London family.
Not one that many of you will be familiar with, but this Oscar-winning short film is well worth seeking out should you be so inclined. If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population". The spirit then warns Scrooge to "forebear that wicked tongue until you have discovered for yourself what the surplus is, and where it is" and chillingly tells him "It may be, that in the sight of heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than MILLIONS like this poor man's child".
The spirit finally reveals to Scrooge two emaciated children, subhuman in appearance and loathsome to behold, clinging to his robes, and names the boy as Ignorance and the girl as Want. The spirit warns Scrooge, "Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom unless the writing be erased".
Ghost of Christmas Present
The spirit once again quotes Scrooge, who asks if the grotesque children have "no refuge, no resource", and the spirit retorts with more of Scrooge's own words: "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? The Ghost of Christmas Present, having already aged, reveals that he will only exist on Earth for a "very brief" time, implied to be that single Christmas holiday.
He finally disappears at the stroke of midnight on Twelfth Night , and leaves Scrooge to face the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come , as it approaches "like a mist along the ground". Hearn, Michael P. New York: Avenel Books. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This section has multiple issues.
Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.
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