A Christmas Carol (1951)

aka Scrooge
Article 1832 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-21-2006
Posting Date: 8-18-2006
Directed by Brian Desmond Hurst
Featuring Alastair Sim, Kathleen Harrison, Mervyn Johns

A bitter old man with an intense hatred of Christmas is visited by the ghost of an old associate who has a plan for saving his soul.

The classic Dickens Christmas story is so familiar that it’s nearly impossible to look at it afresh. To someone planning an adaptation of the story, it must be very tempting to just trot out all the familiar elements and have done with it. This version of the story is often considered the best one, and I can see why; it manages to make me see aspects of the story that I had never considered before, and I was able to get some fresh perspectives on it. The performance of Alastair Sim is a major plus; from the moment he opens his mouth, I begin to get a very different idea of Scrooge than I usually have. His Scrooge is a full character rather than an icon. For one thing, his Scrooge’s dislike of Christmas has a bit more depth to it; it stems out of the fear of feeling the type of compassion that would undermine his whole business ethic. Yet he must have some innate love of the holiday; otherwise, bringing it up wouldn’t make him as angry as it does.

Furthermore, this version helped me to realize more fully the importance of the character of Tiny Tim in the story. He is Scrooge’s opposite – he is bright and cheerful while living in poverty with severe physical handicaps, whereas Scrooge is miserable despite having plenty of money. His death (during the “what-might-be” visit from the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come) is deeply mourned, whereas Scrooge’s serves as merely the opportunity for the scavengers to gather.

Maybe some of these observations are obvious, but it took this version of the story to make me aware of them. For this reason alone, I would have to rank this as the best adaptation of the story I’ve seen to date; it made me think more fully about the story than any other version I’ve seen. Well done on all counts!

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