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A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol (1999)

December. 05,1999
| Fantasy Drama

Miser Ebenezer Scrooge is awakened on Christmas Eve by spirits who reveal to him his own miserable existence, what opportunities he wasted in his youth, his current cruelties, and the dire fate that awaits him if he does not change his ways. Scrooge is faced with his own story of growing bitterness and meanness, and must decide what his own future will hold: death or redemption.


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The Worst Film Ever



Allison Davies

The film never slows down or bores, plunging from one harrowing sequence to the next.


A terrific literary drama and character piece that shows how the process of creating art can be seen differently by those doing it and those looking at it from the outside.


SPOILERS AHEAD As a Dickens buff I watch all the new productions based on his works. "A Christmas Carol" has been done to death by repetition, with every shady character in every sitcom being "Scrooged" one way or another. But certain things about Dickens never seem to seep into most productions, including this one.This production is certainly one of the most elegant, showing details impossible in many previous productions, such as the details on Scrooge's hearth and the infamous "extinguisher cap." In that, it is the most accurate of productions.Patrick Stewart throws his heart into becoming Scrooge, looking younger and balder than most. His is a masculine Scrooge, able to get around without shuffling, and standing up to ghosts better than most. Stewart's is superior to the flat George C. Scott performance or that of the cloying (though famous) Alistair Sim. Richard E. Grant is not like the typical Bob Cratchit (i.e., David Collings in "Scrooge" or David Warner in Scott's 1985 version). Ian McNeice's Fezziwig surprising leaves lots to be desired; it would have thought this production might use someone like Richard Pearson. McNeice is capable of, but does not exhibit here, the necessary warmth or bonhomie.Joel Grey, on the other hand, is (again, surprisingly) accurate as the Spirit of Christmas Past. An old/young, short and shining man.However, what's missing in this production, as in so many, is Dickens' great humor. Admittedly, as in Wodehouse, most of Dickens' humor rises from his word choice rather than what he depicts (perhaps he discovered with PICKWICK his comic episodes aren't all that comic after all so he relied on language). Dickens is able to describe the most bitter episodes in his fiction in a way to raise at least a sardonic smile. That was what was most disappointing in the Sim version. Sim was an actor of enormous comic potential, but his "Christmas Carol" was too po-faced. Frankly, so is this one.Though David Warner was notable in the 1985 Scott version, far better than Grant, the only real alternative for Dickens' humor is the Albert Finney "Scrooge" (despite the liberties it takes with the text and dodgy "special effects"; and though the songs range from brilliant to utterly insipid with nothing in between!) And Albert Finney is able to bring in his performance of both the young and old Scrooge the Dickensian humor Stewart lacks.One more thing "A Christmas Carol" productions usually lack, including this one, is Fred's line "I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round-apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that-as a good time . . ." In no production is the "sacred origin" of Christmas played up, and its absence makes Scrooge's conversion a bit hollow and perhaps a "humbug" to fool even Death.


How come I never saw this version before? Patrick Stewart disappears into the "persona" of Scrooge in the opening scene, when Marley is laid-to-rest. The mark of a good actor. He is by far the grumpiest Scrooge ever. Beautifully filmed in England, it uses many real locations in addition to the usual "sets". Fine performances all around. Joel Grey is a stand out as "The Ghost of Christmas Past". Faithful to the book, his presence is put out with a "candle snuffer" cap! The characters do a great deal of talking and expand upon the usual dialog, which is there also. Not a musical by any means, but it has several songs that may be from the actual time period of the story. Many good digital effects, showing Scrooge walking thru walls (with the spirits' help) and visiting both singing miners and seaman. I have yet to see a version literal to the book, but this one tries very hard. The Ghost of Christmas Present makes more critical remarks about Scrooge, and it is very effective! Stewart does a far superior job than the extremely over-rated George C. Scott version! Most unusual scenes are: Poor Tiny Tim in death, still at home, and Scrooge "dead as a doornail" fresh in his coffin! (Of course, Tiny Tim does not die because Scrooge does not die.-It all works out!)The errand boy only gets only 2 shillings for his effort, but the poulterer gets cab fare and a tip to deliver the turkey to Bob Cratchet! A surprisingly enjoyable and satisfying version from Sam Rami and Hallmark. (I own 5 versions of this classic tale. From Mickey-to-Muppets, plus 1938,1951,and 1970.) I might have to buy this as well!

Jackson Booth-Millard

This was the third version I had seen, and before I had only seen tiny bits of it on TV a couple of times, and the leading actor and other good people certainly got my attention to see it properly. You know the story, but I'll explain briefly. Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge (Patrick Stewart, a good bitter beginning, and then an over the top reform) is the cold-hearted Christmas hating businessman who gets visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley (Bernard Lloyd), who warns him of the torture he faced and the Ghosts that will haunt him. Then obviously he is taken by the Ghosts of Christmas Past (Joel Grey), Present (Desmond Barrit) and silent Future/Yet To Come (Tim Potter) until eventually Scrooge sees the light and realises he must change. This is where Stewart really overdoes it a bit, he is maniacal in his overly happy reform, I much preferred him meaner. Also starring Richard E. Grant as Bob Cratchit, Ian McNeice as Mr. Albert Fezziwig, Saskia Reeves as Mrs. Cratchit, Dominic West as Fred (Scrooge's nephew), Trevor Peacock as Old Joe, Liz Smith as Mrs. Dilber, Laura Fraser as Belle, Celia Imrie as Mrs. Bennett and Ben Tibber as Tiny Tim. The only change I see (besides the over the top happy Scrooge) is the ignorance and want children again. A good TV made film, but I doubt I will be seeing it too often (probably just every time it's on at Christmas, or not at all). It was nominated the Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special. Worth watching!


Patrick Stewart ruins this reading of Dickens' well-loved tale of Christmas redemption and reclamation.Sticking to his one-note acting style, he reprises one more time, yet again, ad nauseum, the the Ghandi-in-an-usher's-uniform Picard tones, strutting about like a skinny little peacock, booming "make it so!". Stewart just does not have the depth and breadth of acting chops to play Scrooge. His imperious booming voice does not carry the day in this version, not at all.The story was paced by Dickens to deliver many punches to Scrooge all along the way, yet Stewart stays uniformly stone-like until he sees his own name on the tomb stone at which point Stewart the actor gives one of the more laughable displays of emotion ever captured for repeated viewing.It should hardly be necessary to describe his transformation at the end of the story except to say that a motion sickness bag may come in handy as he really sticks a fork in this botched version of a Christmas Carol.If you think that being a mono-toned authority figure, as in Picard, is the mark of great acting, then you'll quickly be dispelled of that misguided view after watching this horrible abomination.Interestingly, Patrick Stewart was the executive producer of this failed production, so there could be little room for blame except directly at his feet. I'm sure that Patrick Stewart was giving the director direction.Watch this one for laughs, but if you are hoping to see a version of this wonderful story that will move you, stick with the 1951 Allastair Sim version.