Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Guest Post by Brandon Engel: Top 5 Screen Adaptations of Dickens's A Christmas Carol

Top 5 Screen Adaptations of Dickens' A Christmas Carol

First published in 1843, A Christmas Carol is Charles Dickens' classic Christmas tale about compassion, kindness and generosity. This rousing ghost story is a dark but life-affirming tale of one bitter, greedy, lonesome man and his journey towards personal redemption. It’s moral message makes it a time-honored template for both film and TV adaptations. Whether they are strict adaptations of Dickens' novella or loose interpretations of the theme, many of these movies have been holiday favorites for generations.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
This whimsical Muppet interpretation of the classic tale is more than just a simple retelling tailored for children and families. Adults will find plenty to love about this witty and warm musical adaptation. Carrying the film as one of the only human roles in a colorful Muppet cast, Michael Caine's portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge is considered to be one of the best among the many reprisals of the role. Gonzo the Great narrates as the omniscient and irrepressible storyteller Charles Dickens in a version that makes up with liveliness and heart for what it lacks in faithfulness to the original text.

Scrooged (1988)
Scored by Danny Elfman of Nightmare Before Christmas fame, this spirited Christmas comedy is a modern retelling of the Christmas Carol story, featuring Bill Murray as a cruel and crabby TV executive who is tasked with running a holiday TV special of Dickens' timeless classic. In the film, Murray's character is visited by the three spirits of Christmas and told to amend his degenerate ways. Still broadcast regularly around the holidays, this offbeat Christmas comedy can be seen here or on Netflix, where it was recently added to Instant Streaming. Bill Murray's enthusiastic and improvisational acting style when applied to this dramatic character role results in an unforgettable performance and a uniquely 80’s perspective on morality.

Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962)
This song-filled animated cartoon adaptation was created in the '60s and is considered a childhood classic for many, predating other animated holiday classics like the Charlie Brown Christmas special or Chuck Jones' animated Grinch. Starring Jim Backus, the voice of the original Mr. Magoo, as the Ebenezer Scrooge of this adaptation, this short film captures the magic of the classic story with original songs and heartwarming humor. This Christmas special and Scrooged both share the talents of Carol Kane; in this film she plays the voice of young Scrooge's forlorn fiance, Belle. With a stage version set to hit Broadway soon, this is a seasonal favorite that never wears out it’s welcome.

A Christmas Carol (1999)
Starring the venerable Patrick Stewart in a dimensional and compassionate portrayal of Scrooge, this Hallmark adaptation delivers one of the most touching redemptions for the beloved main character captured on film. This made-for-TV-movie carefully follows the classic Dickens story set in 1840s London and was filmed as a more direct remake of the 1951 Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim, rather than as its own adaptation of the novel. This darkly charming rendition borrows the more grim and austere sets and staging of the '50s classic to aid in the telling of the classic tale of generosity and compassion.

A Christmas Carol (Scrooge) (1951)
This black and white classic adaptation stays true to the Victorian Dickens tale of generosity and human kindness for a film that transcends the season and shares a positive message that can be appreciated all year round. Alastair Sim plays a darkly witty and cantankerous Scrooge that undergoes the magical transformation of Christmas warmth and cheer with an old cinema charm that continues to delight fans of all ages over half a century later.

Brandon Engel is a Chicago-based blogger who writes about everything from pulp horror to environmental legislation. 
Follow him on Twitter at @BrandonEngel2.

Thank you to Brandon for stopping by and sharing this wonderful post!  Reading A Christmas Carol is something we love to do this time of year, and I confess we've already watched Scrooged!  What's your favorite version of A Christmas Carol
Do you have a must-see Christmas movie every year?



  1. I love The Muppet Christmas Carol. Such a great part of my childhood!

  2. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! It was so fun reading Brandon's top picks. I adore The Muppet Christmas Carol. I try to watch it every year. :)

  3. I love The Muppet Christmas Carol and was happy to see it on Netflix. I haven't seen the Patrick Stewart version but I will have to check it out.


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