Twelve Hundred Ghosts (2016)

As soon as I heard this existed, I knew it had to be the last version of A Christmas Carol I watched and reviewed for this project. Twelve Hundred Ghosts is, at least in theory, a supercut of more than 400 adaptations, homages, and reimagined spins on a Christmas Carol, arranged and edited by Heath Waterman, who completed the project over a year and a half. So that certainly puts the fifty-some-odd versions I covered here this year to shame.

I do want to return to that "supercut" moniker. Strictly speaking, it's not inaccurate, but I don't think it does justice to the experience of watching this. Waterman isn't simply cutting between scores of adaptations across multiple mediums; he's creating a montage that explodes both the original narrative, as well as the incredible breadth of media it's inspired.

He uses split screens to combine versions from different eras and styles, he plays audio tracks over incredibly different films, he includes audio plays, recorded readings, comic books, readings of slash fanfic, and at one point stills from a viewfinder. He juxtaposes sitcoms and parodies against classic versions of the story in ways that are both funny and intriguing, simultaneously showcasing the incredible diversity of different versions, while also illustrating their commonalities and - somehow - retaining the story.

He also managed to find a copy of at least one version I tried and failed to get my hands on, but I'll forgive him for that.

Through it all, he maintains a sense of rhythm and continuity. Characters turn to address someone on their left, and we cut naturally to an appropriately positioned character, as if we hadn't jumped decades and switched from live-action to cartoon animals or back again. I'm venturing a little outside of my wheelhouse here, but I feel like this would make for a fantastic introduction to the language of film.

Of course there's humor worked in, as well. We get more conventional supercuts of iconic moments, such as Scrooge saying "Humbug" over and over again. Several cuts are designed to highlight the absurdity of some versions being showcased by contrasting them with classic versions. And it should go without saying, but the inclusion of the aforementioned slash fic is hilarious.

From a structural standpoint, Waterman makes an odd choice (or perhaps he simply ran out of time) by focusing heavily on the first Stave. We're halfway through the fifty-minute runtime when Marley leaves, so that section is basically complete, while the remainder is notably cut down. Fezziwig appears only briefly in the past, then Fred's party seems to have been cut entirely, as are Want and Ignorance and the montage of Christmas celebrations. Future is a bit closer to complete, or at least as much so as most conventional adaptations.

I don't think any of that's an issue, however. The value in watching this is more in the experience than the narrative, anyway. And, for what it's worth, the narrative still functions with those cuts.

The more versions of A Christmas Carol you're familiar with, the more you're going to get out of this, but I think the skill with which it's edited coupled with the inclusion of some absolutely ridiculous versions of the tale would make it interesting to even a casual viewer. This one's really special - definitely check it out.


  1. Amazing. Congratulations on the completion of this season's Christmas Carol extravaganza!


Post a Comment