Mickey's Christmas Carol
|Mickey's Christmas Carol|
|Directed by||Burny Mattinson|
|Based on||A Christmas Carol|
by Charles Dickens
by Walt Disney
|Produced by||Burny Mattinson|
|Edited by||James Melton|
|Music by||Irwin Kostal|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
Mickey's Christmas Carol is a 1983 American animated family comedy-drama featurette directed and produced by Burny Mattinson. The cartoon is an adaptation of Charles Dickens's 1843 novella A Christmas Carol, and stars Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge. Many other Disney characters, primarily from the Mickey Mouse universe, as well as Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio (1940), and characters from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) and Robin Hood (1973) , were cast throughout the film. The featurette was produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by Buena Vista Distribution on 16 December 1983, with the re-issue of The Rescuers (1977). In the United States, it was first aired on television on NBC, on 10 December 1984.
Mickey's Christmas Carol was largely adapted from the 1974 Disneyland Records audio musical An Adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol. The musical featured similar dialogue and a similar cast of characters with the exception of the first and last Christmas ghosts.
This was the first original Mickey Mouse theatrical cartoon produced in over 30 years. With the exception of re-releases, Mickey had not appeared in movie theaters since the short film The Simple Things (1953). The graveyard sequence was also the first time Disney tested the APT process. Many additional characters seen in the film had also not appeared in a theatrical cartoon for several decades. The film was also the last time in which Clarence Nash voiced Donald Duck. Nash was the only original voice actor in the film as Walt Disney (Mickey Mouse) and Pinto Colvig (Goofy) had died in the 1960s, Bill Thompson (Scrooge McDuck), Cliff Edwards (Jiminy Cricket) and Billy Gilbert (Willie the Giant) in 1971, and Billy Bletcher (Pete and the Big Bad Wolf) in 1979. It also marked the first time in animation that Scrooge McDuck was voiced by actor Alan Young (who had first voiced the character on the musical album); Young would continue to be the primary voice actor for McDuck, most notably in DuckTales, until the actor's death in 2016.
The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1984, but lost to Jimmy Picker's Sundae in New York. It was the first nomination for a Mickey Mouse short since Mickey and the Seal (1948).
On Christmas Eve in 19th-century London, Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Scrooge McDuck) is a surly money-lender who is very selfish with his money and objects to the merriment of Christmas. He refuses to give money to a panhandler outside his office, declines his nephew Fred (Donald Duck)'s invitation to Christmas dinner, then brushes off two gentlemen (Rat and Mole) fundraising aid for the poor. His loyal employee Bob Cratchit (Mickey Mouse) requests to have half of Christmas Day off, to which Scrooge reluctantly accepts, but says Cratchit would be docked half a day's pay.
Scrooge continues his business and goes home just before midnight. As he enters his house, Scrooge encounters the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley (Goofy), who warns him that robbing the widows and swindling the poor was wrong, and that as a result, Marley is condemned in the afterlife to carry long and heavy chains. The same thing will happen to Scrooge if he doesn't change his own ways. Scrooge becomes frightened and asks for help, and Marley informs him that he will be visited by three spirits that night and that he should listen to them and do what they say, lest his chains become heavier than Marley's.
At one o'clock, Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past (Jiminy Cricket), who takes him back in time to his early adult life. They visit his time as an employee under Fezziwig (Mr. Toad). Fezziwig throws a Christmas party where the young Scrooge meets a young woman named Isabelle (Daisy Duck), whom he falls in love with. However, the Ghost shows Scrooge how over time, he came to love money more than Isabelle and as a result, Isabelle left him when he chose money over her. A distraught Scrooge asks the Ghost to return him to the present, and the Ghost grants his request but reminds him that he created this past himself. Scrooge is left in his bed lamenting his past actions.
At two o'clock, Scrooge meets the gigantic, merry Ghost of Christmas Present (Willie the Giant). The Ghost takes Scrooge to an old, decrepit home which is revealed to be Bob Cratchit's house. Scrooge is shocked to see that their Christmas dinner for their family of five consists of barely enough food to feed one person but sees that Cratchit's family is surprisingly content with their small dinner. Scrooge takes pity on Bob's ill son Tiny Tim (played by Mortie Mouse). The Ghost comments that if things don't change for the family, Tiny Tim will not live to see many future Christmases and then disappears, leaving a bewildered Scrooge begging for clarification.
Scrooge is then transported to a cemetery, where he meets the Ghost of Christmas Future (later revealed to be Pete), who initially appears as a silent, cloaked, cigar-smoking figure. When Scrooge inquires about Tiny Tim, the Ghost points to a gravesite in the distance where Bob and his family are mourning Tiny Tim's death. As a devastated Scrooge asks if this event can be changed, he sees two gravediggers (Weasels) who are amused that no one attended the funeral of the man they are burying. As soon as the gravediggers are gone, Scrooge creeps closer and asks who the grave belongs to. The Ghost reveals the man who died to be none other than Scrooge himself and shoves him into the grave, where his empty coffin opens to reveal the gateway to Hell. Now terrified out of his wits, Scrooge decides to change his ways once and for all and begs for the Ghost to let him out.
Scrooge suddenly awakens in his bedroom on Christmas Morning. He is happy that the spirits gave him a second chance and makes plans to do good to all the people he had been selfish with. He decides to surprise Bob's family with a turkey dinner and Christmas toys and ventures out to spread happiness and joy around London. He accepts Fred's invitation to Christmas Dinner and then donates a sizable amount of money to the gentlemen he earlier spurned. Scrooge then goes to the Cratchit house. At first, putting on a stern demeanor, Scrooge reveals he brought food and gifts for them and intends on raising Bob's salary and making him his partner in his counting house. Scrooge and the Cratchits happily celebrate Christmas as the featurette ends.
|Alan Young||Scrooge McDuck||Ebenezer Scrooge|
|Wayne Allwine||Mickey Mouse||Bob Cratchit|
|Hal Smith and Hannes Schroll||Goofy||Jacob Marley's ghost|
|Eddie Carroll||Jiminy Cricket||Ghost of Christmas Past|
|Will Ryan||Willie the Giant||Ghost of Christmas Present|
|Pete||Ghost of Christmas Future|
|Clarence Nash||Donald Duck||Fred, Scrooge's nephew|
|Patricia Parris||Daisy Duck||Isabelle ("Belle" in the novella)|
|None (characters have no spoken dialogue)||J. Thaddeus Toad||Fezziwig|
|Minnie Mouse||Emily Cratchit|
|Millie & Melody Mouse||Martha Cratchit|
|Morty and Ferdie
|Dick Billingsley||Tiny Tim|
|Hal Smith||Ratty||Collectors for the poor|
|Wayne Allwine and Will Ryan||Weasels||Gravediggers|
Opening street scene
Party at Fezzywig's
- Lady Kluck, dancing with Secretary Bird
- Rabbit children, clapping
- Uncle Waldo; clapping, later dancing
- Grandma Duck; clapping, later dancing
- Horace Horsecollar, dancing with Clarabelle Cow
- Gus Goose, dancing with Clara Cluck
- Angus MacBadger, dancing
- Chip and Dale, dancing
- Cocky Locky, dancing
- Huey, Dewey, and Louie, decorating Christmas tree
- Percy and Patricia Pigg, dancing
Closing street scene
- Skippy Bunny and Toby Turtle, playing in the street
- Mother Rabbit and Grandma Owl, standing in the street
- Practical Pig, chasing two of the Three Little Wolves
- Cyril Proudbottom, pulling Donald's cart
The film also includes unidentifiable dog, fox, pig, squirrel, bear, raccoon, goose, and chicken characters. The DVD print reveals that the graveyard scene also includes tombstones containing famous performers, including Gladys Knight and The Pips, Bob Mills, and Warren Oates.
Film critic Leonard Maltin said that rather than being “a pale attempt to imitate the past”, the film is “cleverly written, well-staged, and animated with real spirit and a sense of fun.” Robin Allan stated that the film calls to mind the similarities between Walt Disney and Charles Dickens, in terms of both the work they produced and their work ethic.
However, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert of At the Movies gave it “two thumbs down” as they were both disappointed. Siskel felt there was not enough emphasis on Mickey's character, in spite of the title, and that it did not rank with most of Disney's full-length animated features. Ebert stated that it lacked the magic of visual animation that the “Disney people are famous for” and that it was a “forced march” through the Charles Dickens story without any ironic spin.
Colin Greenland reviewed Mickey's Christmas Carol for Imagine magazine, and stated that "it is surprising how entertaining this is, perhaps because it is actually a Scrooge McDuck movie (of course), with the effete rodent very much in a minor role as Bob Cratchit."
Mickey's Christmas Carol premiered in the UK on October 20, 1983, alongside a re-issue of The Jungle Book (1967), and was released in the US on December 16, 1983, with a Christmas 1983 re-issue of The Rescuers (1977). It has been broadcast on various television stations throughout the years. It started on NBC (1984–1990) with 12 new additional sepia title cards illustrated by Michael Peraza Jr. to match the 12 he had done for the original film to help bridge the segments together. It went on to air on The Disney Channel (1987–1999; 2002–2006), and CBS (1991–1996), occasionally on ABC (2000, 2003), before moving permanently to ABC Family (2001–). It was aired on Toon Disney in 2008. The run on ABC Family includes Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too and was part of their "25 Days of Christmas", but with several abrupt edits including the "Chocolate Pot Roast with Yogurt" line and Marley tripping on the stairs and falling down, letting out a Goofy holler. In Canada, it airs on CBC, and has been aired every Christmas season since 1985. It typically airs the Sunday before Christmas. For many years, the short film would air on CBC as a one-hour program, as mentioned below. In addition, Mickey's Christmas Carol would be shown unmatted. In recent years, however, Mickey's Christmas Carol is only aired in a half-hour time slot and in high definition matted widescreen, presumably to be more suited for modern television screens.
The aforementioned broadcasts in the 1980s and early 1990s spanned a full hour, with the first half consisting of the following older cartoon shorts: Donald's Snow Fight, Pluto's Christmas Tree, and The Art of Skiing. Each of the four items in the program was preceded by a narrative wraparound segment in which one of the Disney cartoon characters (Donald, Pluto (with Mickey translating), Goofy, and Mickey, respectively) would talk about his favorite Christmas, thus leading into the cartoon in question. From 1988 onwards, The Art of Skiing was excluded from the annual broadcast, replaced at the end of the hour by one segment or another. The 1993 telecast, for example, featured a behind-the-scenes featurette on The Nightmare Before Christmas. Later broadcasts simply reduced the timeslot to half an hour, showing Mickey's Christmas Carol by itself.
A clip of this film in Swedish was shown on Donald Duck's 50th Birthday to illustrate Donald's international appeal.
The short was released several times on VHS and LaserDisc throughout the 1980s and 1990s. It was released in the Mini-Classics line on September 28, 1989, September 25, 1990 and October 1, 1993. It was re-issued in the Favorite Stories line on October 2, 1996. Some releases featured The Making of "Mickey's Christmas Carol" as a bonus.
The short is also featured, without its opening credits, in the direct-to-home release, Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse. It is also available on the ninth volume of the Walt Disney Classic Cartoon Favorites DVD collection, as well as in the Walt Disney Treasures set Mickey Mouse in Living Color – Volume 2; however, the latter is the only DVD to be released in its theatrical 1.66:1 widescreen aspect ratio, however, it is simply cropping the 1.33:1 version. The short is also on the Disney Animation Collection Volume 7 DVD (1.33:1). On November 5, 2013, the 30th Anniversary Edition of this short was released on DVD and for the first time on Blu-ray; however, it was further cropped to 1.78:1 widescreen and featured a heavy use of noise reduction. Various other shorts were included in the DVD.
- List of Christmas films
- List of ghost films
- List of A Christmas Carol adaptations
- Mickey Mouse (film series)
- Woolery, George W. (1989). Animated TV Specials: The Complete Directory to the First Twenty-Five Years, 1962-1987. Scarecrow Press. pp. 266–267. ISBN 0-8108-2198-2. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
- Dickens' Christmas Carol by Disneyland Records at MouseVinyl.com
- The Ghost of Christmas Past was Merlin from The Sword in the Stone instead of Jiminy Cricket while the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was the Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in her hag guise rather than Pete.
- Disney News Magazine Fall 1984 : Walt Disney Productions
- Oscars (2016-02-04), Short Film Oscar® Winners in 1984, retrieved 2019-07-11
- The film does not specify which mouse plays whom, but the 1974 musical identifies Tiny Tim as Morty.
- Maltin, Leonard (1987). Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. New American Library. p. 79. ISBN 0-452-25993-2.
- Allan, Robin (1999). Walt Disney and Europe. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. p. 261. ISBN 0-253-21353-3.
- At the Movies, December 1983
- Oscars (2016-02-04), Short Film Oscar® Winners in 1984, retrieved 2019-07-11
- Greenland, Colin (December 1983). "Film Review". Imagine (review). TSR Hobbies (UK), Ltd. (9): 45.
- "Mickey's Christmas Carol Blu-ray + DVD Review (30th Anniversary Edition)". www.dvdizzy.com. Retrieved 2019-07-11.