Top 4 List – A Christmas Carol – #4

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With a new adaptation set to debut on December 19th on FX, it has me excited, concerned, and reflecting on one of my favorite Christmas traditions, The telling, and retelling of a classic morality play. Dickens wrote the story out of pure inspiration, hoping to inspire goodwill and compassion in his fellow travelers. I don’t know if he envisioned it being so influential or long-lived.

It seems so quaint and odd to have the most revered and beloved Christmas stories filled with ghosts and spirits. I felt that way until I learned that an old tradition of telling ghost stories was commonplace for a very long time in Dickens’s time. So with its anachronistic forgotten culture, it stands apart from the modern holiday fare. It feels unique and endearing when it wasn’t when the words scratched onto paper.

My primary concern with a new adaptation is how watered down the message will be. Will they shoehorn in modern sensibilities and views into a classic tale. Will they ignore the Christian views that the author wove into the text and subtext of the story in fear of offending, or will they embrace its text and celebrate the source of Dickens’s socially compassionate views? Remains to be seen and rest assured, either way, I will be watching

Charles Dickens’s immortal classic is credited with saving Christmas, and defining how we celebrate the holiday, and it may well be right. The author’s novella has legs and remains part of the holiday since it was publishing on December 19, 1843. Ubiquitous, it has inspired and delighted so many through the years, whether on the page, the small screen, on the stage, or movie theaters, it continues to be told and retold.

Here is my number four “A Christmas Carol” pick.

#4. “A Christmas Carol” 2009 – This is the last one on the big screen. It’s opening shot of Marley in the casket with coins over his eyes sets the tone. Jim Carrey, sort of, takes on the lead character of Ebenezer Scrooge in Robert Zemeckis’ take on the classic using motion capture animation.

While the film has its flaws, it is faithful to the soul of the text. The animation style has not aged well, while it was cutting edge in 2009, a lot has improved in this arena since. But the pandering to the gimmickry of its 3D derails the narrative with an inexplicable chase scene that is absurd.

One of the highlights is the Ghost of Christmas Past. For the first time, someone has approached achieving Dickens’s description of the spirit. The amorphous apparition of light, the flickering face, has been lost to surrogate glitter and lighting tricks to imply the ghost is a lamp who lights our path.

The voice acting is outstanding and the cast is exemplary. Carrey does an excellent job with Scrooge, the ghost of Past and Present, Colin Firth is a fine Nephew, Gary Oldman as Cratchett is the right choice.

I took my niece to see this film in the theater ten years ago, and she found it quite frightening. So the ghosts of Marley and the future yet to come maybe a bit much for the younger set, but hold very faithful to the original text. The movie, for the most part, is a faithful homage to the novella, and worth a watch. I kicked off my Christmas season movie viewing with this one this year.

I will return tomorrow with my number three pick. I’d be very interested in your thought about my picks, what your favorites are for A Christmas Carol.