Sunday, January 29, 2017

George C. Scott as Scrooge: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

TitleA Christmas Carol
My Rating****

AdaptationStarring George C. Scott as "the Scrooge"

Date/Year of Release
Monday, December 17, 1984

Format:  DVD,
live-action, feature-length film 

Is this adaptation reverentYes, this adaptation is reverent, starting with a rendition of the hymn "On Christmas Night All Angels Sing." 

Does it include the phrase "God bless us...?"
Yes, Tim Cratchit says, "God bless us, everyone!"

Does it mention "God" or "Christ"?  Yes, God and Christ are mentioned in hymns and blessings.

What does my wife think of it?  She likes it. 

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?  This adaptation follows the original novel fairly well. It begins with a narrator (Roger Rees) stating that Marley (Frank Finlay) is dead.  Fred (also played by Roger Rees) visits Scrooge in his office on Christmas Eve.  The portly gentelmen seeking a donation do not.  Scrooge leaves Bob Cratchit (David Warner) working in his office, while he goes to the Exchange.  En route, he discovers Tiny Tim Cratchit (Anthony Walters) waiting for his father.

At the exchange, in a scene not included in the original novel, Scrooge sells his corn to some businessmen.

After closing the corn deal, Misters Poole and Hacking (Michael Gough and John Quarmby, respectively) introduce themselves to Mr. Scrooge, seeking a donation.

Bob closes shop without Scrooge, and takes Tiny Tim to Cornhill to watch the other boys play in the snow and slide on the ice.

Meanwhile, Scrooge returns home, where he sees Marley's face on his door knocker. Jacob Marley appears, but does not show Scrooge the other ghosts, although Scrooge hears them as Marley departs through his window.

The Ghost of Christmas Past (Angela Pleasance) appears, and takes Ebenezer back to one of his lonely Christmases at a boarding school, where old Scrooge tells the Ghost that his father held a grudge against him because his wife (Scrooge's mother) died giving birth to him.

Then Fan (Joanne Whalley) appears to Scrooge after he has become a young man (Mark Strickson), and takes Scrooge outside the school, where their father (Nigel Davenport) is waiting for them, and where he informs Scrooge that he will begin working for Mr. Fezziwig (Timothy Bateson) as an apprentice three days later.

As their carriage departs, old Scrooge and the Ghost remain, discussing Fan and her son, whom Scrooge identifies as Fred Holywell, although his surname was never given in the original novel.

Then the Ghost takes Scrooge to Mr. Fezziwig's place of business, where his young self and Dick Wilkins (Spencer Banks) celebrate Christmas with their old boss, his wife (Pat Rose) and their three daughters, their suitors, and Belle (Lucy Gutteridge).

Then the Ghost shows Ebenezer the day Belle broke off their engagement to be married, and another day, when she is playing outside in the snow with her children as her husband (Peter Settelen) approaches, and informs her that he saw Ebenezer, whose partner was about to die.

Then Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Present (Edward Woodard) who takes him into the streets on Christmas Day, and to the home of Bob Cratchit, where Bob informs his son Peter (Kieran Hughes) that Fred has offered him (Peter) a job as an apprentice for three Shillings and sixpence a week.

Then the Ghost takes Scrooge to his nephew's Christmas Party, where one of the guests mocks him.

Afterward, the Ghost takes Scrooge to the streets, where he hears a homeless family discussing their limited options.  

The Ghost also shows Scrooge the wretched children under his robe.

Then the Ghost leaves Scrooge in the street, cold and alone in the dark, in a place unfamiliar to him, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come appears to him.

First, this Ghost shows him the Exchange, where three businessmen discuss his death.

Secondly, the Ghost takes him into his own home, where his corpse apparently lies under a sheet.

Thirdly, the Ghost takes him to old Joe (Peter Woodthorpe's) pawn shop, where's Mrs. Dilber (Liz Smith) sells Scrooge's belongings.

Finally, the Ghost takes Scrooge to his tombstone.

Back in his room, Scrooge discovers it's Christmas Day.  After having a boy fetch the poulterer, Scrooge takes a walk, dropping money in the can of some carolers, and pledging a donation to the portly gentlemen whom he happens to pass on the street.

Another scene shows the poulterer delivering the prize turkey to Bob Cratcit's house, where he explains that it was paid for by an anonymous benefactor.  The poulterer doesn't take a cab; he drives his own carriage. 

Finally, Scrooge visits his nephew for Christmas Dinner.

The next morning, he waits for Bob to arrive late, only to double his salary, and promise to help him ensure that Tim's health would improve

What dialect is used?  Plain English.

When and where does this adaptation take place?  London in the 1800's.

Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel? 

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
Yes, this adaptation is supernatural, featuring four ghosts.
Is this adaptation "framed"
Yes, this adaptation is framed by Fred's narration.

What original musical numbers and/or dance routines are includedIn addition to "On Christmas Night All Christians Sing," carolers sing "I Saw Three Ships," as well as "Peace on Earth/God Bless Us Everyone," which was apparently written specifically for this adaptation.

How attractive is the visual art?  The sets, wardrobe, and architecture are excellent.

How creative and instense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
  The transitions are adequate.  The Ghost of Christmas Past shows scenes from the past in the reflection of her cap.  The Ghost of Christmas Present shows scenes in the flames of his torch.  The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come changes scenes with bolts of lightning and claps of thunder.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation?  The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, the song
"Peace on Earth/God Bless Us Everyone," which is played repeatedly throughout the film.
What extras are included on the tape or DVD[TBC]

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