I think for a lot of people (myself included), Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is an important work of literature for around the holidays. It has all the right themes for this time of year (charity, goodwill, humanity), and it has excellent imagery and scenes, from Jacob Marley’s initial haunting (all of those chains!) to the horrible revelation that Scrooge will become an old, forgotten miser if he does not change his ways. Yet, while the book is great, the film treatments have been especially excellent for this piece of literature…and there have been a lot of versions put to film.
Let us take a look at a few of my favorites!
A Christmas Carol (1984)
Probably the best classical interpretation of A Christmas Carol, in my opinion. George C. Scott is the best Scrooge ever put to film due to his aggression, anger, and humility, which all jump off the screen to pull your heartstrings (his final monologue in the graveyard is so wonderful and chilling). It also features an extremely well-detailed, period-specific setting and wardrobe and unforgettable ghosts, from the performance by The Ghost of Christmas Present (Edward Woodward) to the haunting Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Michael Carter) who dominates in the department of horror, and what is going on with that spooky ambient noise every time it points? shudders
A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
My brothers, sister, and I used to rent books on books from our local library, but we also used to rent movies from their film section because libraries are amazing and can give normalcy to the lives of those who have lived in poverty and for those who had no access to the internet (myself included). Nevertheless, my siblings and I had The Fox and the Hound during the spring, James and the Giant Peach during the summer, The Haunted Mask during the fall, and A Muppet Christmas Carol during the winter (to name a few). Great memories.
Anyway, Michael Caine is really excellent as Scrooge in A Muppet Christmas Carol—not too evil, but not too nice—and Gonzo the Great and Rizzo the Rat are perfect as Charles Dickens and Co. because they are actually really funny and their banter is top-notch. As well, this movie has one of my favorite versions of The Ghost of Christmas Present (Don Austen and Jerry Nelson) and all of the songs throughout the film are marvelous, from the expository music that plays during Scrooge’s first appearance to the endearing “One More Sleep ’til Christmas” as sung by Kermit the Frog.
Don’t forget to watch this one before Christmas is over (and also don’t forget to bring some cheeses for the meeses)!
I probably watch this movie 10 times before Christmas hits for a few reasons: Bill Murray is so effortlessly funny in this movie, and it is just filled to the brim with excellent cameos and performances (did you know Miles Davis and Paul Shaffer are in the background during a street corner scene?). Scrooged is also a well-structured reinterpretation of Dickens’ classic story, from Murray’s role as a kids’ show performer, to his turn as a ruthless television producer. It’s also a very earnest and sweet film that has an ending speech that always brings me close to tears (and lets us not forget the unforgettable performances of Buster Poindexter as The Ghost of Christmas Past and Carol Kane as The Ghost of Christmas Present).