Monday, December 17, 2012

Year One. Day Five: "Christmas Carol - The Movie" (2001)

Day Five of my Advent Christmas Carol Challenge:

"Christmas Carol - The Movie" (2001)

In every way, this low budget, British animated version of the story, is every bit as dreadful as the motion-capture monstrosity I suffered through a couple of days ago. The difference is that it is terrible in a completely different way, and considering the talent involved, hugely more disappointing.

Simon Callow is on Scrooge duties this time around, with Kate Winslet playing the role of Belle (and to accommodate her, the part has been massively expanded.)

What is so odd about this version is that Simon Callow is actually in it. He has become famous across the world for his Dickens readings and portrayals of him on film and TV; yet, rather than use him to create a truly great, traditional, animated version of the story, he has to do his best with a weird, rewritten and completely flat script that for the first ten minutes, I thought I was actually playing the wrong movie, as it had so little do with the novella.

The writers of the film have decided to do away with 90% or more of the original dialogue and for some reason thought that they could do a better job at writing the story. This can't have been due to considerations for modern audiences understanding it, as it's still written in a faux Dickensian style.)

The great cast most likely believed they were signing on for an authentically Dickens adaptation, as I cannot imagine how else you would convince Michael Gambon, Jane Horrocks and well... Nicholas Cage to otherwise do it, (perhaps less so, Cage...)

The British can do traditional animation, but when it works best, it is when it makes use of its limited budget ("Watership Down", "The Plague Dogs") to create atmosphere. Instead, the barely moving characters in this version look poorly drawn, ugly and completely lifeless.

As a side note, this version was responsible for the utterly charming song "What If" by Kate Winslet. If this movie is remembered at all, it should be remembered for that beguiling tune:

As grotesque and as miserable as the ghost of Jacob Marley.

"Christmas Carol - The Movie" (2001) 1/5

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