Monday, December 17, 2012

Year One. Day Fourteen: "A Christmas Carol" (1984)

Day Fourteen of my Advent Christmas Carol Challenge:

"A Christmas Carol" (1984)

I came to this version with a lot of questions that needed to be answered. According to Wikipedia, this adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" is regarded by many as the greatest version ever made.

Could it really be that good?

Could a film that has written new scenes for the story work?

Could one of the greatest ever characters of British literature REALLY be played by an American?

The answer is yes, yes and very definitely YES! In fact, I would go so far as saying that this is the greatest adaptation of the novella, and the greatest central performance I have seen so far.

George C. Scott was an actor I was unfamiliar with, (an oversight I shall remedy forthwith,) but his characterisation of the famous miser absolutely knocked my socks off.

His Scrooge is a complex being. Sometimes comically villainous, sometimes socially awkward and uncomfortable in his own skin, but above all else, he is an ultimately tragic figure. He is a man who is all alone in the world, and in a way, he is the greatest victim of his own selfishness - as even the destitute and the stricken at least have somebody to love them.

Using classic "show, don't tell" techniques of storytelling, this adaptation includes a handful of moments that were not used in the original story.

Rather than clomp over the memory of a much loved book, these scenes are actually expansions of small asides and narrative digressions that have been fleshed out into full scenes and manage to work remarkably well.

The sets, the costumes and the cast are all uniformly excellent and the final scenes of Scrooge's epiphany are so beautiful as to be almost unbearable to watch. More than any other Scrooge performance I have seen to date, we CARE about this miserable, selfish man, and we want to see him become a better person.

As Dickensian as a snowy Christmas in London.

"A Christmas Carol" (1984) 5/5

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