Sunday, December 20, 2015

Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL

We all know Charles Dickens' story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his visits from the three ghosts on Christmas Eve.  A story of redemption—a miserly man whose concept of the Christmas spirit is "Bah, Humbug!"  Then his life is turned around after a visit from three Christmas ghosts—one from his past to remind him of what was and the promise of what could have been, one from his present to open his eyes to what he had become and how others felt about him, and one from the future to show him where he was headed if he didn't change his ways.

From a writer's perspective, it was the first time a story had been told from the point-of-view of a character within that story.  Point-of-view—something vital for today's writer of fiction.

The novella, first published in London on December 9, 1843, has been a staple of the Christmas season as a movie, television show, or play for well over a century.

This year, Hallmark's cable movie channel started showing non-stop Christmas movies in November.  I wondered how many different versions of Dickens' story there were.  So, I did what I usually do when I want a quick answer to something…I Googled it.

And the results came as quite a surprise.  Things I knew, things I had known but forgotten, and things I never knew.  Twenty-eight films, twenty-three television productions, plus other miscellaneous offerings such as staged plays.  Live action, animation, a 3D computer generated images version from Disney in 2009, one set in America during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and even a couple where the character of Scrooge was portrayed as being female.

The first filming of A CHRISTMAS CAROL was a fifteen minute silent movie made in 1908 followed by two other silent versions made in 1910 and 1913.  There have been the straight theatrical films, musical versions, and animated versions with favorite and very familiar cartoon characters taking on the roles of Dickens' famous characters.  Of the twenty-eight movies, ten were released under Dickens' exact original title of A CHRISTMAS CAROL as were six of the twenty-three television productions.

Even though all the various productions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL tell Dickens' story of Scrooge and the visits from the three ghosts, many had their own unique twist and flavor on the original.  I think my favorite is a 1970 theatrical musical version titled SCROOGE which stars Albert Finney as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who learns the lessons of the spirit of the Christmas season.

Wishing everyone a joyous holiday season, happy new year, and most of all—Peace On Earth.


Ashantay said...

I have three different film versions of A Christmas Carol (excluding the Alistair Sims' version), but haven't seen the musical version. I will look for it! I also have Scrooged, which I enjoy the heck out of every year, and may be my favorite adaptation. The American Depression version with Henry Winkler is good, though I'm not sure that is in print. If you haven't seen it, it's available through You Tube and worth a watch.

Peace to you and yours in every moment! I hope 2016 brings you all you hope for and more.

Samantha Gentry said...

Ashantay: SCROOGE (the musical version with Albert Finney, 1970) was just shown this morning on Turner Classic Movies channel. The TCM schedule shows it airing again Christmas morning, 12/25 at 8:45AM Eastern time. It's another of Albert Finney's performances where he's a character rather than the leading man type--like his performance as Hercule Peroit in MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS--where you would never recognize him unless you knew it was Albert Finney playing that role.

I've seen the Henry Winkler American Depression movie of A Christmas Carol. I thought it was an interesting version of the original tale, also an interesting role choice on his part and an intended departure from his Fonzie character.

Wishing you and your family a happy and safe holiday. Thanks for your comment.

Mary Morgan said...

One of my favorites to read and watch! :)

Samantha Gentry said...

Mary: It's definitely a Christmas tradition.

Thanks for your comment.