The Many Ghosts of ‘A Christmas Carol’
The Many Ghosts of ‘A Christmas Carol’ – Scrooge
Never has there been a story more fitting for this festive time of year than the timeless novel by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. Filled with time travel, ghosts and a redemption more satisfying than a ‘who’s feast’, the story of greedy miser Ebenezer Scrooge is hard to miss during the December months. Like the presents in Santa’s sack, this little festive gem comes wrapped in many different boxes and bows, having been adapted more than any other christmas tale. From Muppets to Musicals, A Christmas Carol has a version for everyone.
We love a good story about hauntings and things that go bump in the night, so we decided to take a little time travel trip ourselves, to look at the many different adaptations over the years. We explore The Many Ghosts of ‘A Christmas Carol’.
“Bah,” said Scrooge, “Humbug.”
As much as we would have loved to have gone straight into the ghosts of A Christmas Carol, it would have been wrong not to start with the man they haunt, Ebenezer Scrooge. And so we start with a look at the different actors that have portrayed the man who hates Christmas, Scrooge, and just how differently they presented the character.
1938 – Reginald Owen
The 1938 version of the film is a less faithful adaptations of the Dickens tale, which concentrates more on the other characters than on Scrooge and the Ghosts. Reginald Owen’s Ebenezer is much more twisted characters, whose dislike for Christmas and people come from his cruel nature, rather from his past misgivings. making his transformation even more miraculous. His spider like movements give him a spindly, creepy look and his crazy hair looks like something out of “Whoville”.
1951 – Alastair Sim
Widely acclaimed as one the best adaptations of the book, the 1951 version is an agonising and dark tale, which sees Alastair Sim’s Ebenezer forced to relive his greatest agonies. The truly tragic nature of Scrooge’s anger and greed makes for a much more genuine transformation at the end of the film. His change has less to do with a particular holiday than with a genuinely shared love of humanity, which he had lost. Sim’s wide eyed and emotional Scrooge, is the perfect portrayal of the character, bringing a huge depth of emotion into a character seemingly bereft of human kindness.
1984 – George C. Scott
This dark and morbid version of the book originally premiered as a TV movie in 1984. George C.Scott’s Scrooge is a bitter and resentful man who’s redemption comes from the suffering and torment his actions have had on others. Scrooge is forced to witness desperate families and sick kids, amongst many other sights that are darker here than any other adaption. Scott’s Scrooge is an unlikeable and pathetic characters whose reluctance to change is only slightly more frustrating than his scowling. His redemption is overshadowed by the cruel and disrespectful way in which he treated people around him. He may be nice now, but look at the damage already done. Scott’s portrayal is stoic and unmoving, with little emotion. It’s only the last few scenes that we finally see Scott melt a little into the roll, but even then, it’s a little unnerving.
1988 – Bill Murray
Taking a more modern approach, this clever story within a story comedy, see’s a TV executive “Scrooged” by his former boss and three ghosts. Bill Murrays modern day Scrooge, Frank Cross, is an over the top, cruel and callous man, whose mean spirit comes from his need for power. Murray plays Cross with a manic energy and quick wit, slightly overshadowing the serious nature of his actions. His transformation come more from his reunion with lost love Claire Phillips, than from any of his past misgivings.
1992 – Michael Caine
Who would have thought that Jim Henson and The muppets could have created such a wonderfully genuine version of A Christmas Carol. Whilst the film does take several liberties to fit into it’s own franchise, the film gets right more than it gets wrong. The casting of Michael Caine is definitely one of the right things. His performance is, at the highest level of professionalism. His deadly straight take on Scrooge, melts away as his haunting takes place, leaving him as a blubbering wreck as the ghost of Christmas past leaves him to his choices. It’s almost painful to watch Caine in the first act, as his angry performance is less befitting of the actor we know. But don’t worry, by the shows close, Caine dazzles as always. He clearly had fun making this film.
1999 – Patrick Stewart
This star-studded version is surely the most spectacular live action adaption. Filled with impressive visual effects and a warmth and glow that comes from a genuine performance from Patrick Stewart. His performance is one of the few that really hammers home the real message behind the original story. Stewart’s Scrooge is not a miser because he hates Christmas, it’s because he is a he’s cruel and heartless and cares little for his fellow man. His transformation comes from his genuine disgust of the man he has become, and Stewarts performance is wonderful. He not only looks like a different man, by the close of the film, but he “feels” like a different one too. A true testament to Stewarts skill as an actor.
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Ho Ho Ho….
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