Sunday, December 11, 2016

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 rather than an omniscient point-of-view.  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 the first of 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 


Ashantay said...

I have three different versions plus Scrooged, and enjoy watching them every year. I may even break down and buy the Alistair Sims movie this year...and will definitely borrow the Albert Finney musical from the library! And did you know that An American Christmas Carol is viewable on You Tube?? Yep - gearing up now...

Samantha Gentry said...

Ashantay: It doesn't surprise me of anything that's viewable on U-Tube. :) I found An American Christmas Carol interesting. Not only that it's set in the U.S. during the 1930 depression, it stars Henry Winkler as Scrooge in a role about as far from "The Fonz" as possible, but he also did something behind the scenes...either producer or director (without checking, I'm thinking he was the producer).

Got inspired after reading your comment and watched Scrooge, Holiday Inn, and one of my favorite Christmas movies...We're No Angels, a comedy Christmas offering starring an unlikely cast of Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, Basil Rathbone, and Aldo Ray. In fact, watched dvds most of the day, over 200 channels and there's 'nothing on' tv :)

Thanks for your comment.