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Why (Officially) I Love This Movie!
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!