Showing posts with the label A Christmas Carol

Ebenezer (1998)

For those of you who weren't reading last year, well... first of all, welcome to the party, pal! But second and more germane to the topic, I spent a comically large portion of 2022 watching and reviewing roughly fifty adaptations of A Christmas Carol, presumably making me one of the world's foremost masochists on the subject. This was still just a drop in the bucket as far as the breadth of TV and film versions of the story are concerned, but I managed to check off virtually every adaptation on my list. Virtually. There were a couple that slipped through the cracks. The most notable of which is an elusive 1940s version from Spain that's probably going to be one of those "white whales" I obsess over for decades. But after that, there was Ebenezer, a version starring Jack Palance, with the setting moved from London to the American West. This was an extremely late addition to my list - because the title differs from the usual pattern, it hadn't initially caught m

Watching More Than 50 Adaptations of A Christmas Carol Changed the Way I View Media

Anyone reading the blog last Christmas (or even just following me on one of the social media platforms I used at the time) likely remembers my big project last year. While I'm pretty much always seeking out new holiday movies, last year I watched and reviewed as many versions of A Christmas Carol as possible, finishing the season having seen more than fifty (an exact count is complicated, because several resided in the gray areas between adaptation, homage, and parody). On top of that, I saw several more than once - in order to keep various versions straight for purposes of comparison, I watched some as many as four times. It was, to say the least, quite an undertaking, particularly considering I was doing it as a side project to a side project. The primary reason for the exercise was to gain a better understanding of the history of how the story was viewed, as well as some broader insight into the evolution of Christmas media in general. I wrote up my observations in a few summar

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, re

A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong (2017)

I stumbled across this looking for adaptations of A Christmas Carol, and it sounded both interesting and significant (at least in England - I don't believe this has gotten any kind of release in the states). For reasons I'll get to in a moment, I'm glad I gave this a chance. First, I want to explain to the best of my ability what this is, which is a little difficult as the background on this BBC comedy Christmas special is substantial. I'm going to try and cover this quickly, with the caveat I haven't seen any of Mischief Theatre's other work. A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong is the second BBC holiday special produced by Mischief Theatre. The first, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, is itself a sequel to The Play That Goes Wrong. All of these (along with several other plays and a later TV series) center on a fictitious acting troop called the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society who are supposedly performing the plays in question. The joke is that the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Soc

A Christmas Carol (2015)

This is a one-hour musical adaptation where the lead actor, writer, director, producer, and songwriter are the same person. That's kind of impressive, regardless of how the movie came out, but it tells you a great deal about the budget. Or lack thereof. Yes, this is one of those cases where I spend a lot of time trying to decide what kind of curve to grade on. The production values aren't in the same league as the stuff I usually look at. This doesn't have elaborate sets, intricate costumes, expensive digital effects, and the like. In short, it doesn't look or feel like a "real movie." And that's okay. I try and approach things like this as test runs for ideas and talent. Frankly, after watching dozens of these, I'm more interested in whether original elements of these offer anything of value than I am in whether they rank among the top 30 best adaptations. So, with that in mind, let's explore Anthony D.P. Mann's take on A Christmas Carol. The

A Christmas Carol (2012)

This low-budget Irish production sells itself as the "darkest" adaptation ever made, which is what put it on my radar. Before we even touch on that - or anything else about this - I need to take a moment and focus on another adjective in my opening sentence, namely "low-budget." Because when I say this looks as though it was made for very little money, I'm not exaggerating. The phrase "independent movie" covers a large range of films, from student projects to elaborate arthouse pieces that look as good or better than Hollywood productions. Sadly, this is closer to the former. Much closer. Honestly, I wondered if it might be a school project for a while. That's not to say it's bad, exactly. When you're looking at movies made under these kinds of constraints, that term loses significance. This is an ambitious movie, and without fully understanding the filmmakers' goals in undertaking the project, I can't even begin to offer insight on

A Christmas Carol (2000)

Let it not be said this British TV version is short on ambition. Set in what was then modern-day London, it centers on "Eddie Scrooge," played by Ross Kemp. Eddie is a loan shark whose partner, Jacob Marley, was gunned down years earlier. The movie actually opens with a flashback to that event, though we don't learn who the killer is yet. We then follow Eddie through Christmas Eve, as he collects on debts, harasses people, is dismissed by his ex, Bella, and is a jerk to his employee, Bob Cratchit. He also ignores his nephew's pleas to attend Christmas dinner, though there's at least a reason for their falling out: his nephew is a cop. That night, Eddie sees an image of Marley appear in a poster asking for information about Marley's murder. Then Marley shows up in Scrooge's apartment. The meeting is brief, but - as you'd expect - he warns Eddie he'll be visited by three ghosts. The first of said ghosts is Eddie's father, who punches his way out

A Christmas Carol (1997)

This animated TV/VHS adaptation is mainly notable for its cast, which includes Tim Curry as Scrooge, Ed Asner as Marley, Whoopi Goldberg as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Frank Welker as Scrooge's pitbull, Debit. Oh, yeah, also I should probably warn you they gave Scrooge a pitbull. It's that kind of animated adaptation. On top of everything else, it's also a musical, and not a particularly good one. The music itself isn't too obnoxious, but the lyrics are pretty idiotic. Let's talk about the changes to the story, of which there aren't many. Surprisingly, this sticks relatively close to the plot of the original, though the dialogue is somewhat modernized and simplified. The biggest change is (surprise, surprise) the aforementioned dog, Debit, who plays a fairly substantial role. I should probably specify the dog can't speak: Welker's making cartoon dog noises, not Scooby-Dooing in the middle of Dickens's work. Still, it's a very unwelcome ad

Ms. Scrooge (1997)

Ms. Scrooge was a made-for-TV Hallmark movie from the late 90s that attempted to update Dickens' classic while modernizing the setting and casting Scrooge as a black woman. To be clear, though, this isn't a case where the underlying situation and character are different: the main character is Ebenita Scrooge, and - while her backstory is a little different - the plot and most of the side characters are the same. This is still an adaptation of A Christmas Carol, rather than an homage or pastiche. I want to start out stating the obvious: this isn't at all good as a movie. But if you're approaching a Hallmark TV-movie from 1997 expecting cinematic excellence, you're going to be disappointed. This was never going to have the production values, time, or vision needed to turn it into something worthwhile. The effects are cheap and gaudy (though, for what it's worth, they're better than those in the 1999 TV adaptation with Patrick Stewart). That said, I think some

A Christmas Carol (1982)

This is the second animated Australian adaptation I've seen where Scrooge was voiced by Ron Haddrick, the first being released thirteen years earlier . I was actually a little surprised to find they were made by different studios: in addition to Haddrick, the animation is relatively similar. All that of course invites the question of why this was made at all. The answer, it seems, has less to do with A Christmas Carol and more to do with Charles Dickens. Burbank Films Australia, the studio behind this, produced a series of films based on various works from the author, and this is part of that collection. I suppose that puts it in similar company with the 1959 episode of Tales from Dickens . Of course, that doesn't answer a more pressing question: namely, why should anyone watch this? Unfortunately, the answer there is they probably shouldn't. That's not to say there's nothing good here, but to be frank it doesn't really stand out in any meaningful capacity. It&#

A Christmas Carol (1969)

This 45-minute-long Australian animated adaptation of A Christmas Carol is sort of a mixed bag, which frankly is quite a bit better than I was expecting. It stars Ron Haddrick as the voice of Scrooge, apparently for the first of two times - he's credited in an animated '80s version as well (no promises, but I'll try and get to it). I'll start with the visuals. The backdrops vary in quality and style from scene to scene. At times, they look like pastel crayons, like something out of a children's book. But there are also moments, particularly some early establishing shots, where they're more evocative, almost like it's mimicking Van Gogh. I have no idea how intentional that was, but a few of the scenes are surprisingly atmospheric for a low-budget animated special from this era. The character animation is at least easier to summarize: if you've seen early Scooby-Doo, this is virtually indistinguishable. That's not a bad thing! Scooby-Doo featured good

Tales from Dickens: A Christmas Carol (1959)

"Tales from Dickens," alternatively referred to as "Fredric March Presents Tales from Dickens," was an anthology series adapting stories by Charles Dickens that ran for four years. I think. See, here's the thing: there's virtually no information about this series anywhere online. It doesn't have a Wikipedia page, IMDB's data is full of holes, JustWatch hasn't heard of them, and - with one exception - every episode seems to have been swallowed by the abyss of time. Fortunately, that exception is their 1959 adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which was released on VHS, DVD, and can be easily found on YouTube. So while I'm a little light on context, I was able to watch the episode itself. This is notable for a couple reasons, the first being it features Basil Rathbone as Scrooge, a role he played three years earlier in the live television musical, The Stingiest Man in Town . This adaptation is very different - perhaps Rathbone wanted a chance to po

Shower of Stars: A Christmas Carol (1954)

I doubt this TV adaptation left much of a mark on future interpretations, but I will say it was interesting , albeit in the same way it's interesting looking at the wreck of a 1954 Chrysler Station Wagon on the side of a road. First, I better give a little context. Shower of Stars was an anthology show from the 1950s. For Christmas, they produced an hour-long adaptation (and I use that word generously) of Dicken's classic. Like every episode, this was broadcast in color, which was unusual for the time. This is of particular significance because every color copy of this episode has been lost. Black & white prints are pretty easy to find, though there's not much reason to bother. The role of Scrooge is played by a comedically long prosthetic nose affixed to [checks notes] Frederick March. Basil Rathbone, who'd play Scrooge a few years later in The Stingiest Man in Town, shows up briefly as Marley's Ghost. Virtually every existent adaptation of A Christmas Carol ma

Christmas Present

What a year. For us, it's been a journey into the swirling vortex of A Christmas Carol. I posted a new review for an adaptation every day since Thanksgiving this year, which - as you might expect - has adjusted my perspective a bit. I actually didn't quite get to everything I wanted to see. The 1947 Spanish film,  Leyenda de Navidad , continues to elude me - I believe it's the only surviving theatrically released version I haven't been able to track down. If anyone knows a way this can be legally watched, please let me know. There are of course plenty other versions I haven't gotten to, but that's the only one I lost sleep over. I'm sure I'll cover more in future years, but don't expect another Carol-a-day thing in this lifetime. But here at least we've come to the domain of the second ghost, so you know what that means. Actually, do you know what that means? Because there might be some confusion. We haven't talked about it much, but there