Friday, January 6, 2012

Movie Review: Scrooge (1970)

When Dickens published A Christmas Carol, England was undergoing a revived interest in the Christmas holiday—focused both on historical observation of the holiday in England and contemporary observation of the holiday in Germany (as introduced by the Prince Consort, Albert).[1] Dickens' novella effectively took charge of this revival and actually initiated the secularization of Christmas by emphasizing charitable acts (including gift giving), spending time with family, and parties (food, games, etc.) instead of attending Church services for the holiday.[2] Even though there are Christian themes, including love for your neighbor, punishment for sin, and redemption of the soul, there is only one passing reference to Jesus Christ.[3]

My verdict: If you know my Dad, chances are pretty good you've heard him sing, "Thank you very much…"  I'm usually unimpressed by song and dance numbers in films, but in this one I feel like they effectively use the songs to add depth to the story. Albert Finney's Scrooge is a bit of a nut job; he's not quite as good as Michael Caine [4] (even though this performance earned him an Oscar nod). Dropping Scrooge's office down to Hell at the end was a nice touch and perhaps informed Mickey's Christmas Carol.[5] This is the only version I've seen which omits the line "God bless us, everyone" at the end.

Interesting Fact: Did you know that Alec Guinness (best known by my generation for his portrayal of "Obi-Wan Kenobi" in the original Star Wars trilogy) played Jacob Marley's Ghost?


[1] For more details see Christmas Carol#Context.

[2] The characters do attend church, but Dickens puts the emphasis solidly on private observation of the holiday. He also uses one scene involving church-goers to denounce closing businesses on the Sabbath.

[3] Bob Cratchit relays something said by Tiny Tim: "He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see."

[4] Read my review of A Muppet Christmas Carol here.

[5] Read my review here.

Image attributions:

A Christmas Carol Sign is by Stephen McKay, available at Christmas Carol——1605978.jpg. 

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