Great Christmas Movies to Stream: A Christmas Carol (1984)
Now I know what you’re thinking. There are about as much versions of A Christmas Carol as there are Christmas films and specials in general. The reason I’m drawing your attention to this particular one, is that it has and might always be my personal favorite. Not the Muppets, not 1999 TV film with Patrick Stewart, not Mr. Magoo, not even Scrooged (though that’s definitely a close second). Out of all the versions of A Christmas Carol I’ve seen (and there are plenty to go around) there is not a version to me that exemplifies the spirit, dread and humanity of the original novel more than this version. Now that I’ve hyped you to the point of immediately disbelief and backlash, let me explain why.
Let me get this out of the way first, I am a big George C. Scott fan. Whether Dr. Strangelove or Patton or The Rescuer’s Down Under, the man has done little wrong in my eyes. Now, my problem with the way Scrooge is portrayed in certain adaptations is that there is no middle-ground between his snarky, embittered behavior before his revelation and the uppity, welcoming Scrooge by the story’s end. The Scrooge portrayed here is not on one blatant side of the moral spectrum, he’s just a cold, cynical businessman with an enterprise to run, and little time to spare on the (in his eyes) superfluous holiday. In spite of crudeness, he is not entirely cold to his nephew or to Cratchit, he clearly cares for his nephew and respects the wishes of his employee, much as it annoys him to lose manpower. There is a moral gray presented here, no mustache-twirling, no evil cackle. In fact, Scott is able to exclaim “Humbug!” without it sounding over-the-top or contrived, which is difficult for such an antiquated saying, but is delivered quite naturally. Even by the film’s conclusion (without spoiling it) he still retains a degree of deviousness, in spite of his newfound goodwill.
Shifting focus a bit, one of the more clever aspects of the film is how they handle the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, the shadowy figure is showcased in the distance, and as the inevitable confrontation builds over the time, it gets closer and closer in frame, acting as a foreshadowing of well… the future, and the fear that accompanies it as it nears. Subtle touches like this are riddled throughout the film, such as Cratchit also striking a balance between meek and high brow. He’s just… a man with a family, no caricatures. Even Tiny Tim, who’s little more than a plot device 90% of the time, actually looks… well… sick. I know that might sound weird, but think about it. For all the adaptations we’ve seen, even though Tiny Tim is supposedly feeble and ill, he seems surprisingly healthy and fine.
Not trying to ramble too much, as this story has been told so many times, this remains my favorite take on the novel, and I don’t want to reveal all the quirks and surprises in this adaptation that make it so much more profound (in my opinion) than most. Get your hands on it. Here, I’ll even give you a YouTube Link: http://bit.ly/1fQcVvO
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. 8.5/10.