A Christmas Carol (1984 film)
|A Christmas Carol|
Home video cover
|Directed by||Clive Donner|
|Produced by||George F. Storke|
|Written by||Roger O. Hirson
Charles Dickens (novel)
|Starring||George C. Scott
|Country||United Kingdom/United States|
|Release date||17 December 1984|
|Running time||100 minutes|
A Christmas Carol is a 1984 made-for-television film adaptation of Charles Dickens' famous 1843 novella of the same name. The film is directed by Clive Donner who had been an editor of the 1951 film Scrooge and stars George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge.
Ebenezer Scrooge (George C. Scott) is a hard old man who lives by himself in London in 1843. He hates everything and everyone. The one thing he lives for in life is his money. Scrooge is a tight fisted, hard, mean, stingy man who prefers to horde all of his money up, instead of spending it to the closest penny.
One Christmas Eve, Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Crachit (David Warner) observes that it was seven years ago to the day that Scrooge’s partner (and only friend) Jacob Marley had died. As Crachit is about to put another coal on the fire, Scrooge stops him and tells him that “coal is momentary, and coal is costly”. As Crachit returns to his work, Scrooge’s nephew, Fred Hollywell (Roger Rees), visits Scrooge (much to Scrooge’s annoyance) and invites him to join him for Christmas Dinner the next day. Scrooge dismisses his invitation saying it is “Humbug”. Hollywell leaves. Scrooge then leaves for the exchange and reluctantly gives Crachit the day off for Christmas, but orders him to be their earlier on boxing day. Scrooge on his way to the exchange meets Crachit’s youngest son, Tim (Anthony Walters), who is lame and requires a crutch to walk on. Tim wishes him a merry Christmas, but Scrooge ignores him.
When Scrooge arrives at the exchange several men are forced to pay an extra 5% on his price for corn because the waited another day (much to their grievance). Also there, two gentlemen (Michael Gough and John Quarmby) approach Scrooge asking for donations for the poor. Scrooge refuses to pay, saying they belong in a Workhouse. He then continues to say “if they would rather die, you better let them do so, and decrease the surplus population”.
When night comes, Scrooge leaves the exchange and begins to travel home. Out of nowhere, he hears someone call his name, and then notices a hearse drives past. When he arrives home and unlocks his front door, he sees the face of Jacob Marley (Frank Finlay) on the door. Scrooge then proceeds inside and locks all the doors. He again hears his name called out, and his bell begins to ring. Just then, the locks unlock and the ghost of Jacob Marley, who is fettered in chains, walks in. Jacob tells him that men that lived the way they did are forced to carry chains around in the afterlife, and that the only way that Scrooge can escape his fate is to be haunted by three spirits, and change his ways. Marley tells him to expect the first spirit at 1 o’clock, the second at 2 o’clock, and the third in his own time. Marley then leaves.
When the clock strikes 1 o’clock the Ghost of Christmas Past (Angela Pleasence) appears and shows him the shadows of his past life at Christmas. Shows how his childhood memories affected his mood. How his father casted him off, how the love of his life left him because of his hard ways. Scrooge becomes angry at this and extinguishes the spirits light, causing her to disappear.
When the clock strikes 2 o’clock the Ghost of Christmas Present (Edward Woodward) appears and shows him the shadows of the Christmas of this year. Shows him Bob Crachit’s family, and tells him that Tiny Tim will die if the shadows remain unaltered. He then uses Scrooge’s quotes “if he is to die, then let him die, and decrease the surplus population”, mocking Scrooge. He shows Bob Crachit making a toast to Scrooge (despite Mrs. Crachit’s objections). He then shows him his nephew Fred’s dinner, and how they are talking about Scrooge and joking about his hard way of living. Fred states that the reason he is still acquainted with Scrooge is because his late mother (Scrooge’s sister who died in labour with Fred) was very attached to him. The spirit then brings him to a family that are homeless and live under a bridge, saying they are still part of the human race even though they are poor. After showing Scrooge to little children (ghosts) named Ignorance and Want, he leaves him under the bridge.
A few moments after the spirit disappears the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Michael Carter) appears. This spirit is a tall figure whose face is hidden under a black robe and does not speak. This spirit shows him the same men who Scrooge charged the extra 5% at the exchange talk about a man who died, and will only have a small funeral. Then they are teleported to a room where a corpse covered with a sheet lay. Scrooge refuses to lift the sheet saying he understands the spirit, and that is sufficient for the moment, and that there must be someone in the city who is emotional about this man death, and he demands to see that person. The spirit then shows him a pawn shop where this dead man’s belongings are being pawned. Scrooge notices that they are similar to his own things, but doubts it is him because of the way the lady who had the possessions talks about the deceased life. The spirit then shows him the Crachit family, and Scrooge realises that Tim had died, and watches the grieving family. When Scrooge asks to be taken home, the spirit brings him to a deserted cemetery. The spirit points to a grave covered with sand. Before Scrooge approaches the grave he asks “are the things you have shown me the shadows of the things that will be, or are they the shadows of the things that may be only?” The spirit continues to point. As Scrooge approaches the grave he asks if that the courses of life be changed, so must the ends. Then he brushes the sand off the grave and reveals the name EBENEZER SCROOGE. Scrooge pleads with the spirit saying he is a changed man and will honour Christmas, Scrooge buries his head into the ground, but when looks up again discovers he is in his bedroom again and is alive.
Scrooge talks to a boy on the street from his window, and the boy tells him that it is Christmas Day. He then asks the boy to go and buy a turkey from a shop, which the boy does, and Scrooge sends it to Bob Crachit remaining anonymous and paying completely for the turkey. He then sees the collectors for the poor he met the day before and offers them a large amount of money. He then goes to Fred’s house and asks him to excuse what he said about Christmas, to meet his wife and also accepts his invitation to dinner.
The next day, after Bob Crachit arrives late, Scrooge raises his salary by doubling it. He promises him that he will endeavour to help his family in anyway. He then says “Buy some more coal, before you dot another eye Bob Crachit!” (Meaning go and buy more coal for the office, despite what Scrooge had said the day before). The narrator (voiced by Roger Rees) then says that Ebenezer Scrooge was better than his word. That he was indeed a changed man, and to Tiny Tim who DID NOT die, he was a second father. It was said that Ebenezer Scrooge knew how to keep Christmas in his heart.
- George C. Scott - Ebenezer Scrooge
- Frank Finlay - Marley's Ghost
- Angela Pleasence - Ghost of Christmas Past
- Edward Woodward - Ghost of Christmas Present
- Michael Carter - Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
- David Warner - Bob Cratchit
- Susannah York - Mrs. Cratchit
- Anthony Walters - Tiny Tim Crachit
- Roger Rees - Fred Hollywell
- Caroline Langrishe - Janet Hollywell
- Lucy Gutteridge - Belle (Scrooge's unappreciated fiancée)
- Nigel Davenport - Silas Scrooge (Ebenezer's and Fan's father)
- Mark Strickson - Young Ebenezer Scrooge
- Joanne Whalley - Fan Scrooge (Ebenezer's beloved sister and Fred's mother)
- Timothy Bateson - Mr. Fezziwig
- Michael Gough - Mr. Poole
- John Quarmby - Mr. Harking
- Peter Woodthorpe - Old Joe
- Liz Smith - Mrs. Dilber
- Dennis Morgan - A village gentleman
The movie was filmed on location in Shrewsbury, England. It originally aired on CBS on December 17, 1984 in the United States but was released theatrically in Great Britain. The United States debut was sponsored by IBM, which purchased all the commercial spots for the two-hour premier. The film was marketed with the tagline "A new powerful presentation of the most loved ghost story of all time!" Scott was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special for his portrayal in A Christmas Carol.
The movie has run in syndication on local American channels since it debuted in 1984, earning a loyal fanbase, but was not released to VHS until 1995 and to DVD in 1999. This was because Scott himself (and later his estate through Baxter Healthcare, to whom the Scott family donated their copyright) owned the rights to this film. On November 25, 2007 it returned to national television on AMC for the first time since its debut, and the network continues to broadcast it each December. In 2009, the Hallmark Channel also ran the movie soon after Thanksgiving. It remains one of the most beloved adaptations of A Christmas Carol. During 2009 the film was re-released on DVD by 20th Century Fox, with updated box art, but the same menu and features as the previous DVD release. It was released on Blu-ray in December 2010 by 20th Century Fox.
Novelist and essayist Louis Bayard, writing for Salon.com, described this adaptation as "the definitive version of a beloved literary classic", praising its fidelity to Dickens' original story, the strength of the supporting cast, and especially Scott's performance as Scrooge.
- A Christmas Carol at the Internet Movie Database
- A Christmas Carol at AllRovi
- A Christmas Carol at Rotten Tomatoes