What are your favorite adaptations of A Christmas Carol? Here are some mini-reviews of ones that I experience every year, plus a few new ones.
1. Mickey’s Christmas Carol. Like many people, I suspect, I was first exposed to Dickens’ story through this brief–very brief–cartoon. Its briefness makes it good for children with short attention spans, but it means that a number of great scenes (the child Scrooge in the schoolroom, the party at Fred’s, the pilferers offering their wares to Old Joe) have to be left out. Perhaps even more disappointing, this version doesn’t use much of Dickens’ language other than “Bah humbug” and “God bless us, every one.” But Alan Young as Scrooge MacDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge is memorable. And I’ll always have a warm place in my heart for Mickey’s Christmas Carol.
2. The Muppet Christmas Carol. I haven’t seen this year’s The Muppets yet, but I’m interested to see whether Jason Segel and Amy Adams can give as un-ironic and moving a performance alongside a cast of Muppets as Michael Caine does in this movie which ranks easily among my favorite Christmas films. Even though this movie left me for many years with the impression that Scrooge actually had two partners named Marley in the original version, I credit it with instilling in me an early love for Dickens’ style, since it does retain much of the phraseology of the novella. When I read A Christmas Carol, I hear Gonzo’s voice. Who doesn’t?
3. A Christmas Carol presented by the Almost Blasphemy troupe at Blackfriars Playhouse, Staunton, VA. I went to see this American Shakespeare Center production last weekend. It was decidedly geared toward the groundlings in the audience (in this case, mostly children), as evidenced in particular by the dance number at Fezziwig’s party (It was “Flashdance.” Yes.). A purist would not have enjoyed it, but a purist would not have enjoyed seeing Dickens done with Elizabethan theatrical conditions anyway. I had fun. As usual with ASC, the pace was brisk, yet the story felt unabridged. I thought Marley’s ghost was particularly good. He came out of a trapdoor in the floor! (And he was a good actor.)
4. The version I have pieced together from a few of my students’ papers. In which Marley’s ghost and the Ghost of Christmas Past are the same character. I told them I would be able to tell if they didn’t read the book.