We seem to have a new film version of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” every year. This one, described as inventive and interesting, is said to be in theaters now, but I’m waiting for a Covid vaccination and have no recommendation to offer.
The origin story, a novella by Charles Dickens, was published in 1843. It traditionally has been promoted as an antidote to overly commercial Christmas celebrations, but this year it may resonate slightly differently.
The story of course is about Ebenezer Scrooge, an old man who has spent his life building his wealth and who is visited on the night of December 24 by three spirits who show him how much he has missed and how much more he can do if he pays attention to the people in his life.
This is a family movie in two ways. For children, it gratifies the wish for people to be nice to each other. For everyone else who has made a mistake or two along the road, it affirms that change is possible and can be rewarding.
So if you have finished wrapping presents and have time on your hands just now, here are some ways to take in “A Christmas Carol.”
There are various cartoons of the story. A Bugs Bunny one, if you can find it, and one with Daffy Duck (Bah humduck!) There is the 1962 Mr Magoos Christmas Carol and, hiding somewhere else, the still-popular 1992 “Muppets Christmas Carol.”
For All of Us
A film critic with a longer attention span than mine watched and evaluated dozens of Christmas Carol films, worst to best, if you would like to see more. (My only quibble with his write-up is that it describes Dickens’ book as “anti-capitalist” when I think the more appropriate term might be “anti-greed.” Marx’s “Das Kapital” was published almost 25 years later.)
And you could always read the book itself. Dickens’ work remains approachable and is available on in paper, on Kindle, on Nook and from the fine folks at Gutenberg. There are also shorter children’s stories, including “A Quarantine Christmas Carol” to reassure anxious young ones about pandemic interruptions in traditional festivities.
And then there are radio plays, including a 1965 drama starring the fine English actor Sir Ralph Richardson as Ebenezer Scrooge.
This can get out of hand, however. There are Lego and Smurf productions, and I’m not sure I’d care to see Jim Carrey playing (himself) Scrooge.
For a good introduction, to the story, this well-done 25-minute version from 1969 won an Oscar for best animated short.
Another Christmas Carol that is quite good and also available on Youtube is the Leeds’ Northern Ballet Theatre performance from 1992, the only ballet version that I have encountered.
If, like me, you have read the book, watched several teleplays and films and seen more than one regional theatrical version, you might enjoy this film that speculates about how Charles Dickens came up with his story: The Man Who Invented Christmas.