7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2004
Every winter, I enjoy watching A Christmas Carol on TV whenever I can, and the 1984 version is my favorite. The production and performances add up to a moody, realistic and touching adaptation of the Charles Dickens' classic.
Director Clive Donner (editor of the much celebrated 1951 Alastair Sim version of Scrooge) presents a stunningly authentic recreation of Dickens' London. From effectively foggy streets to Ebenezer's own cobwebbed-infested manor, Donner provides a gritty, appropriately dark atmosphere, enhanced by the wonderful score.
The film's pacing is exquisite. In showing Ebenezer the error of his ways, the filmmakers give equal time to his past, present and future, never once lingering to the point of boredom. Thus the story seems to fly by compared to the other adaptations.
George C. Scott is excellent as Scrooge. Like all of those who've portrayed the character, his old miser starts out mean and bitter and ends up joyous and thankful! But throughout his performance, true sadness runs deep. Scott makes his emotional transformation subtle, painting a realistic portrait of a man haunted by the mistakes of his past, taking his pain out on the world.
But what separates the 1984 production of Christmas Carol from all others is the terrific supporting cast. David Warner may give the warmest performance of his career as Bob Cratchet (all the more poignant considering the many villains he's played over the years). Frank Finlay is the most compelling Jacob Marley I've ever seen. You can almost feel this man's torture just by gazing upon his unblinking expression. Edward Woodward brings great depth to the Ghost of Christmas Present, communicating tremendous power, yet just the right touch of humor. Finally, this adaptation of the Dickens' tale features the scariest, most intimidating Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come you'll find anywhere!
Most of us look forward to a healthy dose of A Christmas Carol at the end of each year and we all have our favorite version. Thanks to the handsome production values, expert pacing and perfect cast, led by the magnificent George C. Scott, I believe they truly got it right in 1984!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2004
Some people are under the impression that this is an American production of A Christmas Carol while others (namely the 1951 Alastair Sim version) are British. Truth is, while the George C. Scott 1984 version was televised on an American network, it was filmed on location in England, and presents an effectively murky, gritty atmosphere where other versions, including the most recent Patrick Stewart version, look a little too "pretty".
Perhaps most telling is that the director of the 1984 Christmas Carol is Clive Donner. Not only is he British, but he was also the editor of the 1951 version...the very same Scrooge featuring Alastair Sim's acclaimed performance! This indicates that Donner had a unique perspective when he decided to revisit A Christmas Carol. He could easily have chosen to tell the tale just as it was done in 1951, but he diverted slightly. Thus, the George C. Scott production is much more atmospheric and concentrates a little more on Scrooge's present and future whereas the Sim version devoted way too much time on Scrooge's past. In giving Scrooge's past, present and future equal time, Donner is able to depict Scrooge's emotional tranformation convincingly and realistically (having George C. Scott doesn't hurt either).
The 1951 production of Scrooge: A Christmas Carol will always have Alastair Sim's celebrated performance, but this 1984 production has become the definitive film version of the Dickens classic!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2003
George C. Scott gives a superb and frighteningly convincing performance of the character that brought "humbug" to common usage. By far, his is the finest Scrooge to be filmed, easily believable and "hate-able" and equally sympathetic and likable after his redemption. David Warner, easily one of the most underrated and overlooked actors of the screen, is the perfect Bob Cratchit. Anyone not touched by his performance in the Tiny Tim death timeline has a heart of pure stone. His interaction with the rest of his "family" is thoroughly convincing and heartwarming. Roger Rees is magnificent as Ebenezer's nephew, Fred. It's easy to feel he really wishes to connect with his uncle and genuinely rejoices when it finally happens in the conclusion. Edward Woodward and the Ghost of Christmas Present seems to have been lifted from the pages of the very Dickens manuscript. He is the duplicate of the John Leech illustration in the 1843 original. The only flaw with this production are the wooden performances of the two younger Cratchit children in some scenes. Unfortunately, the youngest is, of course, Tiny Tim. Even so, the young actor portraying him does an admirable and mostly convincing job. (Blooper alert, though: Look over Scrooge's shoulder as he is standing at Fred's door - unmistakable aluminium drainspouts across the street. Minor, but distracting to the scene.) I watch this DVD many times between Thanksgiving and Christmas (and even a couple of times after), and never tire of it. It's simply too good to watch only at Christmastime!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2003
We don't have a lot of Christmas traditions in my family, but one of them is that, every Christmas Eve, we watch this version of "A Christmas Carol". It has always been my favorite and should be a part of every Christmas movie collection.
George C. Scott plays Ebenezer Scrooge in this version, and he is absolutely fantastic. He plays the role of the miser to perfection, attaining just the right amount of nastiness without going overboard. Yet he also shows the tender side when necessary, particularly as it pertains to Tiny Tim. David Warner, one of my favorite actors nobody's ever heard of, plays Bob Cratchit and he, too, is excellent as Scrooge's kindhearted employee. The only other really notable actor is Roger Rees as Scrooge's nephew Fred, but pretty much all the actors in this movie are excellent, even if you don't recognize them.
The feel of the movie is also excellent. The sets make you feel very much like you're in 19th century London, while other things, like the costumes and street performers, really put you in the middle of that time. The music is also outstanding, and fits this movie perfectly.
Just writing this review makes me wish it were Christmas. And this movie will too. It's definitely a must have!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2003
There are so many versions of this story available it may be hard to peg down why some are better than others. In my opinion this is the best live action version available. It is a well cast, scripted and accurate version of the original story.
So many good things have been mentioned about this movie that I find it hard to add anything new. Well I'll give it a try. Given that this film is a made for television it has great film sets and special effects. This film has captured what I would have thought an urban area in mid to late 1800's in England would have looked like. The special effects used to portray certain aspects of the various ghosts were top notch and still hold up today.
Lastly, even though new versions of this story are always being made I've given up on sampling them all. I would rather just pop this film in the VCR and enjoy it.
on December 19, 2003
There's a reason that of all the stories woven around the Christmas season, and of all the tales Charles Dickens told, this one is still being retold over a century later. And it's the same reason Clive Donner's version, out of all the many filmed and staged retellings, is still around and now being offered in DVD format: they are, quite simply, both the best of their breed. The script is faithful to Dickens' original text as few other versions have been, the production values are sumptuous and conscientious in their historical accuracy, and the performances from a star-packed cast are pure British sterling, above all the late, lamented George C. Scott's unforgettable limning of an all too human Ebenezer Scrooge. Also not to be missed are Edward (THE EQUALIZER) Woodward as the Ghost of Christmas Present, cruelly rebuking Scrooge with his own words; Mark Strickson (Turlough of DOCTOR WHO fame) as the young Scrooge in the Christmas Past sequence; Roger Rees, Susannah York, Frank Finlay as a suitably fearsome Marley's Ghost, the always reliable David Warner as Bob Cratchit, Angela Pleasance as the gentle Ghost of Christmas Past, Joanne Whalley (the former Mrs. Val Kilmer, of SCANDAL and many other films) and Michael Gough (another DOCTOR WHO veteran [the Celestial Toymaker in Hartnell's First Doctor era] and Alfred the butler in the BATMAN films).
Seeing Scott as Scrooge crying out in anguish over his own gravestone, "Why show me this if I am past all hope?"; then on Christmas morning, jumping up and down on his four-poster with glee; showing up on his nephew's doorstep, properly shame-faced and hoping for a chance to begin again -- these moments bring a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat every time. If you need a reminder of why this season is so important even to those of us who have lost faith in the Christian church, bookend this film with Clive's brother Richard Donner's equally excellent updating of Dickens' classic tale, SCROOGED, starring Bill Murray (his speech at the end is worth the price of the DVD all by itself!) for a night of holiday laughter and tears like no other. Scrooge embodies the hope that all of us have that, whatever our failings and our misdeeds, our lives may yet be counted of value and our souls admitted into heaven; and this version of his odyssey from miserdom to redemption makes it abundantly clear why this one short story holds such a special place in the canon of Western literature.
on November 28, 2003
Originally released as a presentation of Hallmark in the mid-80's, this edition of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" is perhaps the most elegantly portrayed, highly detailed production to date, and though its depiction of the central characters vary slightly from the original story, it nonetheless captures the essence and spirit of the century old novella.
George C. Scott masterfully plays Ebenezer Scrooge. Set in 19th century England, Scrooge is a miserly, greedy businessman who has set about to build his fortune, despite the adverse effect his life has had on everyone around him. As Christmas approaches, he is visited by the spirit of his recently deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, who admonishes that Scrooge will be visited by three spirits of Christmas who will help him to see the errors of his life. Through each of their visits, Scrooge is given glimpses of Christmas past, present and future through a series of vignette experiences that reflect parts of his life, and where his life will ultimately lead him should his own spirit go unchanged.
The movie serves up a very poignant and important reminder about the true meaning and spirit of Christmas, and it is a great and entertaining film for the whole family. "A Christmas Carol" features first rate performances by the entire cast; especially endearing is the relationship between Bob Cratchit (David Warner) and his son, "Tiny" Tim Chatchit (Anthony Walters). Additional noteworthy performances include Edward Woodward as the boisterous and prophetic Ghost of Christmas Present, and the delightful Roger Rees as Fred Holywell, Ebenezer Scrooge's nephew.
Capturing the essence of Christmas, this film is an emotional, insightful and completely engrossing adaptation of Dicken's original story. With all the other adaptations of the story that are out there, make sure to make this one a part of your Christmas tradition. It is a film the whole family is sure to enjoy.
on November 25, 2003
This line of Scrooge's as he jumps up and down on his large four poster bed are about my favorite from any Christmas movie, ever.
I've seen more than one version of "A Christmas Carol" but none compare to this 1984 version. The portrayal of mid 19th century England is stunning and the music is FANTASTIC.
But of course the very best part of the movie is George C. Scott, who plays Scrooge to perfection. His only shortcoming is in the British accent, but the rest of his performance more than makes up for it. He manages to make Scrooge seem like a real human being and not just an old humbug. When the Ghost of Christmas Past reviews the horrible day Scrooge's fiance Bell gave back her engagement ring, you can see the pain in his eyes at the memory of it. And when he finally realizes what he has become and begs for a second chance, he really seems to mean it.
My family watched this once and decided to make it a Christmas tradition. If you see it, I'm sure you'll want to do the same.
on November 20, 2003
There is a reason why TV critics did handstands when this movie premiered on CBS in 1984- it's pretty darn terrific! The story is known to almost everyone. It's Christmas Eve in 1840's England and at the office of Scrooge & Marley curmudgeonly Ebenezer Scrooge mutters "bah humbug" about the upcoming holiday. He rebuffs a Christmas dinner invitation by his only living relative, his nephew Fred, and begrudges having to give his overworked, underpaid employee Bob Cratchit a day off. After work, Scrooge retires to his empty, depressing house for a dreary, lonely meal. It is then that Scrooge is confronted by the chained spirit of his late partner, Jacob Marley. Marley warns Ebenezer that unless he repents from his greedy, selfish ways he will be doomed to walk chained in the spirit world as Marley does now. Marley offers Scrooge a chance for redemption. He will be visited by three spirits, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, who will arrive one after the other to give Scrooge the choice of either continuing on the path which his life is currently traveling or to strive for the path that leads to a better union with humankind.
With apologies to fans of Alastair Sim's portrayal, George C. Scott stands head and shoulders above all as the "best" Ebenezer Scrooge. To me, Scott's Scrooge is much more realistic. Sim's portrayal ran from two extremes- extremely nasty to extemely happy. Scott does a much better job of humanizing Scrooge in his two forms: the embittered miser and then later on the reformed repentant. The best example of how Scott shines over Sim is how they say Scrooge's line about boiling people in their own pudding and then burying them with a stake of holly through the heart. Sim's Scrooge sounds so malevolent when saying that line that he comes across as a total sociopath. On the other hand, Scott's Scrooge laughs while saying that line. One still get's the idea that Scott's Scrooge lacks Christmas spirit and compassion, but one does not think that he is insane! I also love how Scott plays Scrooge after his night of transformation. He has the initial glee of being given a second chance, but he approaches his relatives and Bob Cratchit with his new outlook in a reserved way that shows a man still unsure if he will be accepted by people he had treated with such disdain for so many years. The scenes of Scrooge with his bewildered (but overjoyed) nephew are quite moving.
This made-for-TV film also has much more than just Scott's magificent performance. The set design, outdoor locations, and costumes really make 19th century England come to life. It also follows the plot of Dickens' story fairly closely and the few changes and additions actually benefit the story's narrative such as having the ghosts visit all in one night and adding elements to explain how Scrooge ended up such an embittered man. The performances are uniformly great and compliment Scott very well. However, the two stand-outs are David Warner as Bob Crachit and Edward Woodward as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Also, as others have noticed, this is the only version of "A Christmas Carol" that has a Tiny Tim Crachit who looks like he really does have one foot in the grave. If you're looking for just one version of "A Christmas Carol" to add to your collection then this is the copy to get.
on August 1, 2003
Interestingly, when The Man George C. Scott was first approached about doing this remake of the Dickens Classic story, his response was, "Why do this...Alastiair Sim has already done the quintessential pereformance as Scrooge..." With all due respect for the fifties version of A Christmas Carol, this is the definitive rendition of the "odious, stingy, mean-hearted" Ebenezer Scrooge!
I get COLD just watching the opening scenes of nineteenth century London (!) Such lavish detail...and David Warner, one of the unsung actors of our time, gives a poignant performance as Scrooge's poor clerk. Excellent casting all around, and wonderful music that never gets intrusive or bombastic.
But it's George C. Scott who steals the show in this production. I can never get tired of watching those first moments in the office. If Scott's British accent is somewhat lacking, he more than makes up for it in his portrayal of the classic skinflint. The lines are almost verbatim from the novel in places...put it this way: I've often had this fantasy of bringing Charles Dickens back just long enough for us to have a pint or two while watching his reaction to this movie...it's a shame the nineteenth century authores of these classic stories could never have imagined what the medium of film would do for their works. Gauging by this titanic effort, they would have been very, very pleased.