Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Non-American Carol

My favorite movie adaptation of A Christmas Carol is a 1978 made-for-TV movie with George C. Scott as Scrooge. After watching the weekend's release of an animated Robert Zemekis directed A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey as Scrooge, I have a new favorite. It is now the 1984 made-for-TV movie with George C. Scott as Scrooge. Just checked IMDB and they said I was wrong before when I said it was made in 1978. It's saying a lot that this was one of Scott's better performances. Scott really understood Scrooge. Instead of simply playing him as a stern, selfish and greedy man, Scott added a wicked sense of humor and a dash of sadism that really fleshed Scrooge into something that made his ultimate transformation all the more special and interesting. Jim Carrey...doesn't do that.

I must warn you, if you are unfamiliar with the plot of A Christmas Carol, there will be spoilers. This means you've never read the book, scene any of the movies or watched that episode of Friends where Joey was visited by three ghosts who looked like Chandler, Ross and Rachel to help him realize that he should embrace the true meaning of Christmas by spending it with his friends instead of banging swimsuit models.

This movie stays faithful to the book and sets it self apart from other Christmas Carol adaptations with its wonderful animation. I didn't see it in 3-D (my local Regal Cinema actually bragged that the movie was showing in "Traditional 2-D") but still it was loaded with visual imagination. My favorite scenes were the ones in the past. When the Ghost of Christmas Past brought him back in time the whole world seemed brighter and more colorful, just the way we remember the past and Jim Carrey actually got me a little choked up when he started getting overwhelmed by the poignancy of it all, especially when he saw his late, beloved sister, Fan. Nope, I have few complaints about what Zemekis managed to show us and still remain faithful to the story with the exception of the car chase. Well, okay, a horse-and-buggy chase but it still seemed long and kind of dumb but that was the only thing.

I just wish Carrey's portrayal had been more like George C. Scott's. Maybe it's unfair to compare someone to one of the greatest screen actors who ever lived but that's where my mind kept going throughout the movie. Carrey was good in the role (he also played the ghosts) but he played it the way it's mostly been played for a hundred years. For example, Carrey said the line about Christmas lovers should be boiled in their own pudding with straightforward sternness whereas Scott's Scrooge chuckled at his own cleverness.

Still, it's a good movie and well worth your time. The 1984 version is also a good movie and worth your time so why not watch both? You'll have a Dickens of a time. GET IT? DICKENS OF A TIME? Oh God, I love me.

No comments: