Monday, January 30, 2017

Guthrie Theater 1984: A Christmas Carol: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

TitleA Christmas Carol
My Rating****

AdaptationStarring Richard Hilger as Ebenezer Scrooge
 

Year of Release1982

FormatVHS,
live-action, feature-length film of a stage play 

Is this adaptation reverent?  Yes, this adaptation is reverent, with carolers singing portions of "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen!" and "Good King Wenceslas."


Does it include the phrase "God bless us...?"
  Yes, Tiny Tim and Mrs. Dickens say, "God bless us, everyone!"

What does my wife think of it?  She refuses to watch it, because she doesn't like musicals.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?  This adaptation follows the original novel fairly well.  There are a few departures from the original novel, however.  The scene at Old Joe's pawn shop is missing; a funeral procession for Scrooge is added.  Young Scrooge proposes to Belle the day before he begins working for Mr. Fezziwig.  In a later scene, Mr. Fezziwig concludes his Christmas Ball as soon as Belle arrives, to allow her to be alone with Scrooge, an opportunity she takes to break off her engagement to Scrooge.  Previously, when Scrooge is a boy, Fan visits him at school, but she tells him that she snuck away from their father to give him a Christmas present, and has to return before he misses her.

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? 
No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
Yes, this adaptation is supernatural, with the usual Ghosts of Marley and Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come.
 
Is this adaptation "framed"
Yes, this adaptation is framed by Charles Dickens writing and reading his novel at his desk, as his family tries to celebrate Christmas with him.

What original musical numbers and/or dance routines are included(See above.)

How attractive is the visual art?  The set, wardrobe, and architecture/art are adequateThe desks are mishapen and slanted at odd angles, so it looks as if paperweights would slide off of them.

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.  This film is an odd combination of stage play and special film effects.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation?  The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, the use of a paperweight on Charles Dickens' desk, which later appears in the story when Fan gives it to young Scrooge for a Christmas present, after a scene in which old Scrooge throws it at Fred.  Fred keeps it as a memento of his hateful Uncle, and shows it to his guests on Christmas.  Scrooge mentions it when he shows up at Fred's on Christmas Day, but tells Fred to keep it.


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