Film Review: A Christmas Carol

USA:PG (certificate #45640) | UK:PG | Finland:K-11 | Norway:11 | South Korea:All | Ireland:PG | Canada:G (British Columbia/Quebec) | Canada:PG (Alberta/Manitoba/Ontario) | Japan:G | Singapore:PG | Brazil:Livre | Netherlands:9 | New Zealand:PG | Australia:PG | Chile:TE | Spain:7 | Iceland:7 | Hong Kong:IIA | Switzerland:7 (canton of Geneva) | Switzerland:7 (canton of Vaud) | Mexico:A | Portugal:M/6 | Philippines:G (MTRCB) | Sweden:11

This is a really splendid interpretation of Dickens’ novel of redemption. Watched in 3D the characters truly come alive; there is a real sense of being present in Victorian London that isn’t always the case in films with flesh and blood actors! This is because the artistic imagination and re-creation is near boundless. Okay – it seems difficult to recreate fire, as the scenes with hearths weren’t successful in my eyes but that and the occasionally unnecessary “comic” scenes and the preoccupation at one point with falling aside – A Christmas Carol is AMAZING!
Now you might be surprised having written the above that my family (the three of us) with a wide age range and differing cultural roots (my wife is French) all agreed that though we truly loved this film (and would want to see it again but not at the cinema – expensive!) – the best interpretation of Dickens’ novel for us – wait for it – is the Muppets Christmas Carol! We discussed this on the way back and yes – Michael Caine is by far the best Scrooge ever – real or animated actors alike. There is a strong emotional dimension to the Muppets version (I kid you not!). Scrooge’s young love is poignant and moving and the songs in the Muppets’ film are really, really wonderful. It’s dark too – the ghost of Christmas Past is impressive. But I’m meant to be reviewing the Jim Carrey film!
Mr Carrey is very good and convincing as Scrooge and he voices a number of other characters too – all three ghosts I seem to recall! The animation is stunning and you really feel as if you’re flying with Scrooge as he’s taken either backwards or forwards in time. The attention to detail is quite staggering. So you see I am a great fan – but the Muppets’ version still takes precedence for its humanity.  Am I being unfair? It would be interesting to know what a child would think if it saw this version first and then the Muppets! Carrey and Caine (sounds like Waldorf and Stadler!) are definitely the best Scrooges I’ve seen and there have been some truly unimpressive ones (sad to say that Patrick Stewart disappointed) – also both films capture the spirit so well (pun could be intended!)…
I’ve always been entranced by A Christmas Carol – wondered why Scrooge had a chance of redemption while those other poor spirits are doomed to wander the earth for eternity. Redemption is so important; so necessary. And I detest those that block others’ attempts to redeem themselves. How often do we see this mean-spirited (!) attitude in politics? We all need the opportunity to redeem ourselves. We can view the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future and relate these to our own lives – what we have done, continue to do and where our actions might lead…
There is a powerful scene in A Christmas Carol where the ghost of Christmas Present dies (he lives for one day only and thus has many, many brothers) – but before the first bell of midnight Scrooge is shown the children of “Want” and “Ignorance”. The scenes that follow are eye-poppingly startling (and the creative imagination – truly superb). The message is as important now as it was in Dickens’ time – perhaps MORE important for us now. 
It might be expensive to watch in 3D (and buy the obligatory pop-corn) but this is a TRUE Christmas film for all the family (though you might need to cover the little-ones eyes at time) – the message is uplifting and timed with the celebration of the birth of Jesus and the unfolding of the greatest act of redemption – so very relevant. Yes, go and watch this film and then treat yourself to a copy of the Muppets’ version, maybe for a Christmas Eve viewing. Both films will truly fill you with the Christmas Spirit and a sense of what Christmas was, is and should be!

Reviewed by Tim Bragg

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1 Comment »

  1. spiritofthedrum said

    Just to add that I noticed one “Happy Holiday” from the redeemed Scrooge – I presume this was an anachronism….

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