By: Mary Fran Bontempo
Christmas time. It’s sparkle and glitter and presents and food and fun. It’s good will and peace towards men. It’s giving and love. Yet not everyone looks at the holidays and gets all gooey inside. And for those who don’t, there’s no better company than the king of all Christmas-haters, Ebenezer Scrooge.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is perhaps the most beloved holiday tale of all time, which can be both a blessing and a curse. From theatrical productions to movie re-imaginings, the season boasts endless opportunities—some good, some not so much—to immerse oneself in Victorian England and experience Ebenezer’s miserly misery, his Christmas Eve hauntings and his eventual redemption.
The most recent take on the classic story is last year’s version, starring the rubber-faced Jim Carrey. Released by the Disney Studios and directed by Robert Zemeckis, of Back to the Future, Forrest Gump and The Polar Express fame, the animated film makes remarkable use of Carrey’s talents, employing him in all of Ebenezer’s aged incarnations as well as in the guises of the ghosts who visit the nasty old fellow. With dazzling effects (the film was originally released in a theatrical 3-D version), this portrayal brings new life to the story, along with Carrey’s comedic flare. A great option for those who would like a new spin on an old time tale, available on Amazon. (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_2_28?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=jim+carrey+a+christmas+carol&sprefix=jim+carrey+a+christmas+carol)
Another wonderful Disney offering of the story dates back to 1992, when Kermit the Frog and his Muppet pals took on jolly old England with the help of that well known British thespian, Michael Caine, in the role of Scrooge. Kermit embodies Bob Crachit, with his ever-plump paramour, Miss Piggy, as the missus. Muppet madness reigns throughout, as little tweaks to the script afford the puppets ample opportunity to showcase our favorites. For example, Jacob Marley takes on a brother, Robert, the roles played by Muppet characters Statler and Waldorf, the old gentlemen hecklers of The Muppet Show fame. Needless to say, the comic elements added by the Muppets, as well as the fact that the movie is also a musical, make this telling a sheer delight, especially for young ones, or those young at heart. (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_22?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=muppet+christmas+carol&sprefix=muppet+christmas+carol)
Purists will find no better inhabitant of Scrooge’s nastiness, however, than George C. Scott, who, in 1984, starred in a made for TV version of the tale. With his down-turned mouth, drooping eyes, sagging jowls and gravely voice, Scott is the very epitome of Scrooge’s meanness. It’s hard not to quake along with Bob Crachit as Scrooge barks his “Humbug!” at the poor, abused fellow. Jacob Marley makes a frightening first impression, as does the ghost of Christmas future. And little Tiny Tim (who, quite frankly, can be a bit irritating when played too sappily), is a charming figure. With lush sets, Victorian England is by turns depressing and gorgeous, striking just the right tone at all the right moments. Simply the best version of the classic done in a classic manner. A must see. (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_31?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=george+c.+scott+christmas+carol&sprefix=george+c.+scott+christmas+carol)
So, on this weekend before Christmas, take some time off from the madness of holiday preparations and snuggle in with your loved ones for a viewing of A Christmas Carol. It’s the perfect way to remember the reason for the season.
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