This adaptation is a sobering drama

A Christmas Carol

Released November 23 (UK) and December 17 (USA), 1984. Review written 2022.

This is a surprising Christmas movie. I was surprised by the film’s magnetic attraction.

A Victorian set movie is not usually my thing, but I already knew a thing or two about this story based on Charles Dickens novel. It has a decent point of view. I was reluctant one Boxing Day to take the time to watch this movie that happened to be on. But I was pleasantly surprised.

A Christmas Carol (1984) is a little heralded film drama adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol novel of 1843. What struck me is that this Dickens adaptation does not have an insincere, false note. I watched in awe at what is as a straight-forward and dramatic presentation of the Charles Dicken’s classic Victorian novel you are likely to get. In fact, the straightest, soberest, most well produced film I have seen for a while.

It is about the well-off, well-to-do, and very alone Ebenezer Scrooge (George C. Scott), who is disliked for his miserly ways. Scrooge is not characterized as all bad, though, as the background to this shallow character is sympathetically handled, going back to his youth. Yet this rich man’s future is threatened if he continues to withhold good things from others in need. What tips his conscience back to the good side is wonderfully done–involving Scrooge’s past Christmases, told in flashback.

As straight as they come, this movie has no irony and edginess. A Christmas Carol is certainly serious-minded right to the edges, and still manages to be moving and powerful, with splendid production values, a wonderfully believable and engaging Scrooge by George C Scott, and otherwise superb performances. It may all be quaint this British film, with its Victorian era etiquette and costume design, with stagecoaches and streets from a time long gone, but this winter Christmas movie, snow, and all, has a warm heart.

Starring: George C Scott, Nigel Davenport, Frank Finlay, Lucy Gutteridge, Angela Pleasance, Roger Rees, David Warner, Edward Woodward, Susannah York. Screenplay: Roger O. Hirson, adapted from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Director: Clive Donner.

Reviewed by Peter Veugelaers.

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