Great Scott, Another Scrooge
So here I am finding myself watching yet another adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and one of the most popular versions, in fact for many the best version which is held in even higher esteem than the great 1951 adaptation starring Alastair Sim. It is easy to see why this 1984 version is so popular because it is an above average production which is all the more surprising considering that it is a TV movie, but is it the best version? Well I am torn because I love the production of this 1984 version, the look is great, the musical accompaniment is first rate and there are some good performances but for me I still prefer Alastair Sim's take on Ebenezer Scrooge not that George C. Scott's does a bad job.
So I won't waste time with another rendition of a synopsis because for the most this 1984 version of "A Christmas Carol" stays true to the book. There are some changes as there are in all adaptations and in many ways the reason why you would watch another movie adaptation to discover what the screen writers have done differently to other versions.
So what is good about this version of "A Christmas Carol" is the production, it at times borders on the spectacular with some wonderful looking sets and a great soundtrack. The two work well together to paint a vision of Victorian Britain whilst also delivering the horror of Scrooge's encounters especially with Marley. In face the whole series of scenes which start with Scrooge walking down a fenced road and then the appearance of Marley is the best version of these scenes. But I do have a slight problem with the production because this vision of Victorian England is a little too pretty, a little too idealistic of virgin white snow on the streets with carol singers filling the air and a joyous bustle going on. It isn't authentic but what people would love to think it was like and in fairness it works in the context of the movie.
Then there is George C. Scott's performance as Ebenezer Scrooge and there is no doubt it is one of the best performances, the best if you prefer performances which lack that quirky edge which is what Alastair Sim had. In all honesty you can't really criticize Scott's performance but it is in little things, the occasional reaction which doesn't feel right as he puts his own flavour to how a miser would react to what he is presented which lets it down. This is certainly the case when he is taken to his past and his reactions to the events and the people he see whilst entertaining just don't feel as they should be. Of course there are other people in the movie and Angela Pleasence's version of the spirit of Christmas Past is an interesting take with a joyful but also slightly ominous sense about her and Edward Woodward seems to be channelling Michael Caine as the spirit of Christmas present.
What this all boils down to is that this 1984 version of "A Christmas Carol" has one of the best if not the best productions even if it doesn't ring wholly true of the time. But for me Alastair Sim's version of Scrooge just edges ahead of Scott's.