Sunday, December 23, 2012

Year One. Day Twenty-Three: "A Christmas Carol" (1910)

Day Twenty-Three of my Advent Christmas Carol Challenge:

"A Christmas Carol" (1910)

This silent film adaptation of the novella is believed to be the earliest surviving film version ever made, (although two were made before, both are thought to have been lost.)

It is an interesting prospect to watch a silent version of the story. So much of the spirit of the adaptations I have seen so far depend upon the unforgettable dialogue to capture the spirit of Dickens' work.

Marc McDermott plays Scrooge - a once staggeringly prolific Australian actor who would go on to feature in over 180 films. It's hard and perhaps unfair to judge his performance, as silent film acting is so different to acting nowadays. However, he was very popular during his career so presumably he was doing something right.

The film utilises some very early special effects for the ghosts, which was surprising and very welcome to see, and the version I watched had some enjoyably jaunty music to accompany it.

The film runs at a breakneck 10 minutes, meaning that there's no chance for any real depth to the tale. However, it is clear that this adaptation was not really meant to tell the story, as it is far too brief to properly explain it; it is more a way of filming the novella for those who already knew it (who, much like today, would have been most people.)

While it has nothing to offer that other versions did not do better, it is still an irresistible viewing experience to see a film that is over a hundred years old, and for that reason it is more of a historical curio than a classic version of the story.
As quiet as a Silent Night.
"A Christmas Carol" (1910) 3/5

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