The novel “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens is one of the most beloved holiday story’s of all time. It’s the timeless tale of someone who just couldn’t get into the heart of the holiday and then embarks on magical journey through the past, present and future to discover the true meaning and joy of the holiday and in the end, becomes a better man. It’s such a thoughtful and unforgettable story, so great it just can’t be left alone. This is a story that has been given new life countless times on film, each carrying a stamp of what made the original novel so great and more often than not, an outstanding performance from a great actor playing Mr. Scrooge. I honestly don’t know exactly how many times it’s been remade and I’m not going to force myself to see every single variation of this story but I have seen a lot (8 to be exact), so in order from youngest to newest, let’s take a look at the different versions of “A Christmas Carol” I’ve seen. P.S. I’m not including satire films like “Blackadders Christmas Carol” or the 1988 movie “Scrooged” staring Bill Murray.
“A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)” 1951 (Alistair Sims as Scrooge)
Lets begin by looking at the classic 1951 film starring Alistair Sims. It wasn’t the very first version of the Dickens classic to grace the silver screen but it’s often regarded as the original classic. Well, this version is far from being my personal favorite but I can understand why it's considered a classic. From a technical point of view, this was quite impressive for its time and Alistair Sims is just chillingly good as Mr. Scrooge. This is also the version that seemed to follow the novel the closest, there are literally dozens of things in this version that aren’t featured in any other. If you want to see the version that’s regarded as the original classic then check it out but there’s still other renditions I’d recommend over this one.
“Scrooge” 1970 (Albert Finney as Scrooge)
Boy oh boy, I’m really not sure how I feel about this one. There are so many things in this version that I love and at the same time so many things I can’t stand, making this feel very unbalanced. It was the first time seeing an actual musical version of this story (not including the moppets version), but the songs are mostly boring and forgettable, it’s not until the ending that the music really lifts your holiday spirit. There’s also some really over the top sequences including this part at the end where Scrooge actually goes to hell and becomes the Devils slave and it’s moments like this that feel so unnecessary and mean spirited. But in the end it dose still leave you with the same joyful feel you get from this timeless tale. Not one of the best but good all the same.
“Mickey’s Christmas Carol” 1983 (Scrooge McDuck as Scrooge)
This was one of the very first film adaption’s that introduced me to this incredible story at a young age, and it’s such a proper introduction. It gives kids a fresh perspective of the characters and allows us to fully appreciate seeing them in latter live action renditions. I especially love how this special is only 30 minutes long and it can still pull out a really powerful and emotional response, that’s no small accomplishment. Bottom line, if you have kids that have never even heard of “A Christmas Carol”, this is the best version to introduce them to it.
“A Christmas Carol” 1984 (George C. Scott as Scrooge)
This version is commonly regarded as the most beloved version of all. Again, it’s not my absolute favorite but it is still one of the best. There are a lot of elements in this version that really make it stand out, most especially George C. Scott, who’s just as incredible as ever, his grouchy voice just fits the character so well.
“The Muppet Christmas Carol” 1992 (Michael Caine as Scrooge)
While this was the very first version of the Dickens classic I had ever seen, it doesn’t stand as strong as “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”. Admittedly, a lot of that has to do with me loving Mickey Mouse and company far and above Kermit the Frog and the Muppets, but regardless it still feels like a holiday classic. What stands out the most is Michael Caine as Scrooge, his performance isn’t quite as stirring as some of the others but he certainly looks and feels the most like the genuine article. Whenever I read the story, the first image of Scrooge that always comes to mind first is Michael Caine.
“A Christmas Carol” 1999 (Patrick Stewart as Scrooge)
Personally, this version is hands down my absolute favorite version by far. This was the first film rendition I saw that didn’t feature cartoon characters or puppets and it’s the version that really made me see how genuine, wholesome and timeless this story really is and it’s the one that I find myself watching every year. What really holds it up is Patrick Stewart as Scrooge. He’s always been one of my all time favorite actors and this still stands as my favorite portrayal of the character. He’s so gloomy and repressing all emotion that it goes beyond just a solid performance, you really believe that it’s the actual Mr. Scrooge on screen and that’s the power of Patrick Stewart in a nutshell. If your lost in a sea of different Christmas Carol adaptions and don’t know which one to start with, this 1999 version is the one that I’d recommend above all the others.
“A Christmas Carol” 2004 (Kelsey Grammer as Scrooge)
Of all the actual musical renditions of the Dickens classic, this one seems to have the most memorable and touching musical numbers. Kelsey Grammer also gives his usual good performance but nothing stunning. Personally, I’d recommend this versions soundtrack alone over the actual film rendition because it’s just an okay version.
“A Christmas Carol” 2010 (Jim Carry as Scrooge)
This is easily my second favorite version of “A Christmas Carol”, I love the beautiful animation, I love it’s atmosphere, I love Robert Zemeckis’s talented and artsy direction, I love all the beautiful holiday music (most notably the song, “God Bless us Everyone” performed by Andrea Bocelli) finally, I love how well Jim Carry stays in character and gives a genuinely good performance. He’s another one of my favorite actors but he’s usually just himself having fun, but in the case of this film, he’s really giving his all to make this performance as genuine as he can. It’s just a wonderful modern adaption of this timeless tale that the whole family can enjoy.
Final words, it really doesn’t matter which version you see because it’s still the same outstanding holiday story that everyone should experience again on Christmas.
And God Bless Us, Everyone!