SCROOGE: A CHRISTMAS CAROL. (2022) BASED ON THE 1843 NOVELLA BY CHARLES DICKENS. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY STEPHEN DONNELLY. PRODUCED BY TIMELESS FILMS.
STARRING LUKE EVANS, OLIVIA COLMAN, JESSIE BUCKLEY, FRA FEE AND GILES TERERA.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Wow. This is a bit of a strange one, is this. It’s the latest screen adaptation of celebrated British writer Charles Dickens’s most famous oeuvre, A CHRISTMAS CAROL (it HAS to be the latest; it only dropped on Netflix on December 2nd!), but with a twist.
It’s an animated re-make of my son’s favourite Scrooge adaptation of all time, the all-singing, all-dancing 1970 version with Albert Finney. This 1970 musical version was very obviously intended to be the new OLIVER! THE MUSICAL, which preceded it. Despite some terrific songs (THANK YOU VERY MUCH being a case in point), the 1970 SCROOGE just didn’t hit the dizzy heights that OLIVER! managed to.
What I don’t understand in the case of this new animated musical version is this; why re-make an old version? Why not just make your own completely new musical version? Unless they thought that the songs in the Albert Finney version were just too good not to trot out again in this new millennium…? Who knows? The new version is very kindly dedicated to Lesley Bricusse, the deceased British composer who penned the 1970 film.
So, are there are differences in the plot or characterisation between this and previous SCROOGE adaptations? Well, yes, heaps, lol. Here, perennial miser and moneylender in Queen Victoria’s London, Ebenezer Scrooge, looks a lot younger, fitter and more dapperly-dressed than the usual scruffy, red-nosed, warty-faced Scrooges of old. He’s fleet of foot and not at all decrepit, which is a little unusual all right. He even says ‘Merry Christmas’ freely and of his old volition, albeit sarcastically, which wouldn’t be at all something the regular Scrooge would do, not even for a bet…! He’d choke on it, truly.
And he even owns a dog, an adorable bulldog called Prudence, who completely steals the show with her love, loyalty and funny faces. You know when dogs look at you with their heads on one side as if to say, ‘urrr?’ She does this so beautifully. And Scrooge treats her well, unlike Bill Sykes and poor Bulls-eye in OLIVER! Can anyone, i.e., Scrooge, who owns a dog be all bad? Well, I suppose once more we only have to look to old Bill Sykes for our answer…!
Scrooge’s annoying, Christmas-loving nephew is called Harry here and not Fred, and he’s very generous on the subject of his horrible uncle Scrooge because Scrooge once loved and was loved by Jen (Fan in other versions!), Harry’s beloved mother who died one Christmas Day giving birth to Harry. This is the main reason Scrooge has always hated poor Harry, which of course is a very unfair way to treat someone who was born under such tragic circumstances.
Anyway, the three ghosts- of Christmases Past, Present and Future- all visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve in order to show him the error of his ways. They don’t show Scrooge in his old school (‘I was a boy here!’), and there ain’t no Mrs. Dilber, neither, more’s the pity. It’s not like it wouldn’t be in keeping with the situation.
Scrooge’s lugubrious, gossipy old housekeeper always has an eye to the main chance, and if that means stripping Scrooge’s scrawny corpse’s bed of its linen and bedcurtains, well, who’s to say that it’s wrong or disrespectful of her? He won’t be needing ‘em where he’s going, cue a hideous gummy cackling…
I like the feisty Ghost of Christmas Past, who is made of candlewax, and the Ghost of Christmas Future is mildly scary enough to give viewers a- very mild- thrill. The songs are great, but then we already knew this from hearing them in the 1970 Albert Finney version. Nice to hear ’em again, though.
This is a mildly- there’s that word again!- entertaining and enjoyable Christmas film, but if you’re ever in a situation where you’re told that you can only watch one more Christmas film before you die, then don’t choose this one. Just go with DIE HARD again.
Oh, and by the way, my local library is hosting a season of festive fillums this Yuletide, and first up is DIE HARD. Soooooooooo, if DIE HARD is not a Christmas movie, y’all, then how comes it’s on this list…? I’m just saying, is all. Enjoy the new SCROOGE movie, all you Dickens-heads out there, and Happy Christmas…!