I decided, since it’s the Christmas season, and A Christmas Carol is a Christmas classic – and one of my favorites – that I would watch and list as many as I could get ahold of. There is somewhere around 5,000 adapatations of this and I could not watch them all. I am only one person! Every time I thought I’d found them all, I found 3 more. It was a nightmare. So, I limited it to stuff released after sound was invented.
Now, you should all know the synopsis of this story, so I won’t explain it. And if you don’t, you just leave right now. Go back under that rock where you belong. These aren’t ranked in any particular order. They’re all good, but they’re all different enough that a favorite will come down to personal taste and preference. But they’re all definite must sees.
Disney’s A Christmas Carol
This is the motion captured version starring Jim Carrey. This Scrooge is thin, bent, and bitter like never before. It’s a good portrayal, but the “people” in this movie are fucking creepy. They’re realistic, yet not realistic at the same time. It scares me the same way I get scared during the opening theme of Roseanne during the years when their pictures morphed…. I still shudder.
You can just barely make out the face of Jim Carrey beneath the animation, but his voice is fairly recognizable. He also voices all three of the ghosts and Gary Oldman is Cratchit, Marley, AND Tiny Tim.
This movie is a mix and match. On one hand, it’s a faithful adaptation. Zemeckis didn’t shy away from the darker sides of the original stories. On the other hand, it honestly might have been better just filmed in live action. Don’t get me wrong: the 3-D looks amazing, and the ghosts were fantastic, but there’s little reason for it in the rest of the film when you can just use real people. There are so many effects it seems that it leaves little time for heart of the story. There’s no focus on Tiny Tim. There’s just a real lack of human emotion, maybe a lack of passion even, particularly in Scrooge himself. I don’t really feel his transformation, you know?
Another thing about this movie though is that putting the ‘Disney’ in front of it, combined with the fact that it’s cartoonish, might attract children, but it’s certainly not a movie for wee ones. It’s dark. It’s intense. It could possibly scare children. I do wonder if Zemeckis wanted the darker, truer telling of the story and Disney did not. So they stuck the two together and it doesn’t work as well as either would have worked separately, but it’s also not a bad film. Definitely worth a watch if you’re looking to get more Christmas movies in during the season.
A Christmas Carol (1999)
I’ve never seen a Scrooge with so little hair! Patrick Stewart definitely doesn’t look the part, but he plays it adequately.
Once I got past the fact Scrooge didn’t look like Scrooge, I liked this movie more than I thought I would based on reviews. This was made for TV and that is reflected in some of the special effects. I mean the ghosts… not that good. But overall, there were scenes from the book added into this movie that are usually left out. It covers the darker aspects of the story without getting too dark. This version also has one of the best, most believable Cratchit families. So, maybe not the best Scrooge, but overall, it’s a very solid movie.
A Christmas Carol (1984)
This version is excellent. What’s odd about it is that it was made for TV, but is probably the most cinematic of them all. A 30-year-old made-for-TV movie that is still around? That’s an accomplishment, for sure.
This was filmed on location in London and the scenery is just amazing. George C. Scott does a good Scrooge and he’s just as believeably mean as he is believably nice… but I feel like this Ebenezer only finds his way back to humanity by the idea of his own death, not necesarrily from regret or anything else. I mean, he does a great job of conveying it, I just think it’s a different interpretation of why he changes and I don’t really like it. That’s really my only complaint, though. Everything about the movie is pretty good. No complaints about the casting. This Tiny Tim, while being a horrible actor, is one of the few through-out the adaptations who actually looks sickly. Maybe a little zombie-like, but sickly. It annoys me to see these chubby, butter-ball kids playing a lame and sickly child who’s dead within the year because he’s so sickly.
Rather then taking place in Victorian England, this movie takes places in 1980’s New York City. I typically don’t like remakes that don’t stick to what is being remade, but this is a refreshing change. It more or less sticks to the story. Bill Murray plays a grumpy TV executive who hates Christmas and fires people and makes them work Christmas Eve in order to put on a live production of A Christmas Carol. He’s so mean he even takes a cab from an old lady with her arms piled up with packages. But then his old, dead boss visits him to warn of the three ghosts who will visit, then the three ghosts do indeed visit, shennanigas ensue, and he sees the error of his ways. And for some reason, Bobcat Goldthwait walks around losing his damn mind. I’m not sure what that’s about, but okay. It’s funny and Murray is great. This is an overall excellent Christmas movie.
A Christmas Carol (1951)
Alastair Sim is an excellent Scrooge and a versatile actor. He probably has the broadest range of anyone cast in this role. He plays mean and cold perfectly and then fantastically slips into kindly, loving mode. Every solo Scrooge scene early on in the film shows a sadness and loneliness peeking out through his outer shell of greed and hate. It definitely makes the overnight his redemption all the more believeable. Also, Sim does the best “humbug”.
The director took some liberties in this film and added several extra scenes from Scrooge’s past but I like them because it shows the path that turned him into an old miser. I don’t remember ever seeing this before and I thought I wouldn’t like this one considering it’s age and because it’s black and white, but the lack of color really adds to the drama and dreariness, both of which really make the movie. The entire production is great. In some movies the set looks like a set and the costumes look like costumes, but this one gives us a realistic mood and a creepy atmosphere. It’s spooky and somber, as it’s supposed to be. Some adaptations are light hearted and family friendly fare, and that’s nice too, but at its core Dicken’s tale is a pretty solemn story riddled with regret, blame, loss, and selfish greed. This may or may not be the number 1 version of the movie, but it’s definitely the number 1 Scrooge.
Complaint: They have a lot of nerve calling this Tim “tiny” as he’s like 14 years old and looks as healthy as the day is long.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Somehow this movie has existed for 20 years and I never even knew about it.
My husband – ”Let’s watch The Muppet Christmas Carol.”
Me – “Wait. There’s a Muppet Christmas Carol?!”
Husband – “Yeah. Michael Caine is in it.”
Me – ”Michael Caine is in it?!! There’s muppet Christmas Carol with Michael Caine in it and you’ve been sitting on this information?!”
So, yeah, I love Michael Caine and I love Muppets and a love A Christmas Carol. This is my favorite version on this list. This movie doesn’t look twenty years old. The muppets are great and Michael Caine is amazing. He can sing with Muppets with a straight face. If you only watch one movie off this list, let it be this one. I mean, you should watch them all, cause it’s Christmas, you scrooge, but definitely watch this one.