Inspired by The Holidailies Prompt: What is your favorite holiday tradition, and why?
Back when “Cable TV ” first came in I fell into my – I guess you could call it tradition- of finding and watching different adaptations of Charles Dickens ” A Christmas Carol ”
Cable TV in those days was filling up content as fast as they could so they aired a lot obscure programs and caught in that net were and endless and interesting supply of ” A Christmas Carol” pulled from PBS stations, I think live recordings of plays and TV broadcasts from the dawn of TV programming.
Now days all I have to do is punch in ” Christmas Carol ” on my remote and my smart TV gives me a list to work from. In the old days I actually had to read and highlight tv program guides .
This year courtesy of my remote, I found three versions that I was really happy to find.
This version of A Christmas Carol staring Vincent Fegan was interesting to me because it featured a lot of daylight and natural light in the camera work as opposed to traditional shadows and darkness that I’ve seen in most of the versions of A Christmas Carol.
In addition there wasn’t a soaring soundtrack to add ( or distract ) from what was going on with the story itself. So it was just you and Scrooge and his ghosts.
Most of all I also loved the use of of space- the rooms were all but empty except for some furniture. I had the impression that the people whose story I was watching were long gone. It drove home the point that this was a ghost story. That was creepy so of course I loved it.
I mentioned the use of light earlier- it was bright but the brightness didn’t bring a sense of warmth. It was quite the opposite. It brought bone chilling cold .
I think I saw this version from the 1930’s for the first with my Aunt on late night TV pre-cable. She loved old black and white films and we watched this one because were up late playing board games and when it came on we kicked back and watched it.
This version stars Sir Seymour Hicks and it’s considered the first and the best version of A Christmas Carol.
You don’t really see some of the ghosts ( and Marley’s ghost explains why after he first appears ) so it’s on Seymour Hicks hook you into feeling the ghosts because you can’t see them. He was successful at convincing you that the visions were bringing him pain and horror that and that’s probably why it still gets kudos.
Even though my favorite version of a Christmas Carol is the one starring Alistar Sim, I have to say this version is actually a little scarier because Seymour Hicks looks kind of demonic in the beginning. Come to think about it, he still looks demonic in the end, but his hair isn’t as messed up and he’s not slouching like a starving dog about to pounce on a bone so there is that.
I was about 8 when I saw this version for the first time and to be honest, I wasn’t sure this Scrooge was going to stay a nice guy. I suppose it’s because he really scared me at the beginning.
He still does, bless his heart.
I almost didn”t watch this because the promo was yippy, skippy and hap hap happy. It put me off right away.
However, I’m glad I did give it a chance because this story about how Dickens created a Christmas Carol was FABULOUS.
First off, it didn’t gloss over the fact that Dickens was a tool to his wife, his parents and if you watch the scenes with his children he keeps them at arms length. He had his demons to deal with and he wasn’t always succesful in those fights and he knows it.
I don’t want to go into the weeds and do a review so I’ll just tell you about the parts I really loved in this movie.
I enjoyed the parts were Dickens interacted with the characters he was creating and they were giving him all sorts of grief and Hell. Dickens argues with them and he belittles them and at one point they go on strike and Scrooge fights him for more lines.
I also love the part where Dickens names Scrooge because that’s the process I actually go through myself so it was nifty to see it on screen.
Most writers can look at stories they’ve written and somewhere in them we see ourselves in a character. Sometimes the character is a minor one, sometimes that character is the lead but we are in there.
I am mentioning this because in my favorite scene Dickens is about to bury Scrooge in his grave because the story is going nowhere, Scrooge won’t say or do what Dickens wants. Dickens is about to- in modern terms- hit the delete key when just in the nick of time Scrooge convinces Dickens he deserves a chance to live, that he doesn’t want to end up in a black hole when he knows he has this great story to share and this great life to live and the ending for the story snaps together- just like that.
So there is my Christmas tradition- it’s the one I enjoy the most and it’s the only one I actually look forward to every single year and what I’ve shared here are this years finds. Watching these three films was a great way to spend a few days up to Christmas. Maybe you’ll give them a chance too.