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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent release
Before the bluray came out, I had the 50th Anniversary "Emerald Edition" dvd with the UK version "Scrooge" as well as the US version, both restored from the best copies of the film then available, including some restored scenes that had been missing. There were only a few glitches in the movie, including a brief pause in one or two places.

The new bluray...
Published on Dec 24 2011 by Norman Wolf

versus
73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do "NOT" Buy This Version...!!!
Granted, the sharpness of the picture is better then the VCI version, but there are persistent, light white scratches, that appear horizontally across the middle of the screen for great amounts of time, usually right across someone's face, that are so annoyingly distracting that watching this version is not much fun (it's kind of almost as bad as watching a cheap DVD that...
Published on Dec 26 2005 by stryper


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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do "NOT" Buy This Version...!!!, Dec 26 2005
By 
stryper "stryper" (Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Granted, the sharpness of the picture is better then the VCI version, but there are persistent, light white scratches, that appear horizontally across the middle of the screen for great amounts of time, usually right across someone's face, that are so annoyingly distracting that watching this version is not much fun (it's kind of almost as bad as watching a cheap DVD that has a line going vertically, through the it for a nice chunk of time).
I checked out two different copies of this DVD and tried them on two different DVD players, to make sure that the scratches had nothing to do with my equipment.
The VCI version is the one to get, as though the picture may be a tad softer, there are no annoying scratches on the print (and until I actually did a side by side comparison of the two, I didn't even notice the VCI version being at all, soft)
Also, the booklet that comes with this new version has nothing of any importance, what so ever, where as the liner notes on the VCI DVD are way more informative.
The only thing that this version does have over the VCI version is the inclusion of an unremastered trailer (which isn't really all that great, as trailers go, anyway).
Hope this helps :)
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars HOPE FOR A BETTER RELEASE, Dec 27 2005
I own various dvds of this DEFINITIVE production, naturally i was so excited to see a restored version of this movie. However, this EMERALD EDITION dvd is a HUGE dissapointment. The booklet claims the dvd was created from 7 different prints. That would explain why specks come and go, lines (film scrapes) appear for some scenes, sound changes through out (hissing comes and goes), and worst, imo, the tint changes when Marleys ghost enters the room (turns slightly greenish) All of this is very annoying. Keep your VCI version for now, and hope for a proper restoration by someone like CRITERION.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not buy this DVD!, Jan. 24 2006
By 
F. Bruni (North York, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
A Christmas Carol: Emerald Edition is a very disappointing release. A restoration should be pristine or as close to it as possible. This release is not even as good as previous releases. A waste of time and money.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray Emerald Edition suffers same malady as the DVD edition., Dec 10 2009
This review is from: A Christmas Carol [Blu-ray] (DVD)
I was sent this version, the Emerald Edition, of the Blu-ray releases by error. Amazon has refunded my money and boy am I glad. This version is exactly the same as the DVD version of the Emerald edition, scratchy in some scenes, blurry in others, green tint, and hissing and popping sound. It would be one thing if they took an entire scene from ONE bit of stock footage, but when the hissing comes and goes during a scene (like in the scene where Scrooge and Marley meet for the first time) and the picture changes, it's just not enjoyable. It might be forgivable and that's a very slim "might", if it only occurred during scene changes, but it doesn't and the Emerald edition is very annoying to watch. I was more than sorry when I bought the DVD and when Amazon sent me this version of the Blu-ray by mistake I was very disappointed. I popped it in my blu-ray player because the version I bought was supposed to be subtitled and when I discovered this one wasn't that is when I realized there must have been an error in shipping. If you want to purchase this movie in blu-ray I urge you to purchase the other blu-ray version they have listed. I finally got that one which is the one I had originally ordered and it is outstanding! I would rate the other version A Christmas Carol [Blu-ray] well more than five stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent release, Dec 24 2011
By 
Norman Wolf (Regina, Saskatchewan Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Before the bluray came out, I had the 50th Anniversary "Emerald Edition" dvd with the UK version "Scrooge" as well as the US version, both restored from the best copies of the film then available, including some restored scenes that had been missing. There were only a few glitches in the movie, including a brief pause in one or two places.

The new bluray release is even better, taking advantage of the restored 35mm print, and adding subtitles (a lack in the dvd release) and a 5.1 track for those who prefer that to the original mono audio.

I didn't see any of the problems Badgley described, and I wonder what player he was using for playback. I use a Samsung bluray player that is a few years old now but doing well. The price is excellent too. I got it for 11.20 US+4.98 shipping, or 16.18 US. You can't go wrong.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Christmas Carol [1951] [Blu-ray] [US Import], July 22 2014
A Christmas Carol [1951] [Blu-ray] [US Import] THE HOLIDAY PICTURE OF ALL TIME!

Alastair Sim's tour-de-force performance as the ultimate miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, has almost single-handedly made this beloved version of Charles Dickens' story into one of the best-loved Christmas films of all time. Some of Britain's best filmmakers united behind Sim, who was joined by a delightful cast of accomplished and acclaimed English actors; creating what many today believe to be the best and most faithful production of Dickens' immortal tale.

Cranky and curmudgeonly Scrooge learns the error of his unkind ways and is taught the true meaning of the holidays when he is visited by the ghost of his late business partner and the spirits of Christmas past, present and future.

This Blu-ray edition has been digitally restored from a new 1080p, 24fps high definition transfer master produced from the 35mm negative and fine grain.

Cast: Alastair Sim, Kathleen Harrison, Mervyn Johns, Hermione Baddeley, Michael Hordern, George Cole, John Charlesworth, Michael Dolan, Francis de Wolff, C. Konarski, Rona Anderson, Carol Marsh, Brian Worth, Miles Malleson, Ernest Thesiger, Glyn Dearman, Roddy Hughes, Hattie Jacques, Louise Hampton, Peter Bull, Eliot Makeham, Hugh Dempster, Richard Pearson, Jack Warner, Patrick Macnee, Marley Douglas Muir, Clifford Mollison and Theresa Derrington

Director: Brian Desmond Hurst

Producer: Brian Desmond Hurst

Screenplay: Noel Langley

Composer: Richard Addinsell

Cinematography: C.M. Pennington-Richards

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Audio: English: 5.1 Surround Sound and 1.0 PCM Mono Audio

Subtitles: English and Spanish

Region: Region A/1

Number of discs: 2

Running Time: 86 minutes

Studio: VCI Entertainment

Andrew's Blu-ray Review - Over the course of film history, few literary characters have been resurrected more often than Charles Dickens' legendary miser and Christmas killjoy, Ebenezer Scrooge. Several esteemed actors, from Reginald Owen and Albert Finney to George C. Scott and Michael Caine, have barked at Bob Cratchit, growled "humbug," and giddily danced a jig - all with a fair degree of relish. Yet one Scrooge consistently stands apart from the pack. Alastair Sim never achieved much renown in America, but in Britain he was a pretty big deal, a deft character actor with a basset hound face, a mellifluous voice, and a gallery of bemused expressions. Alastair Sim enlivened many a dreary feature, and if a vote were ever taken to crown the quintessential Scrooge, he would surely win. His take on the crusty curmudgeon who's transformed by three ghosts into a benevolent softie one cold Christmas Eve in Victorian London remains iconic, and the version of 'A Christmas Carol' in which he appears is required viewing for countless families each holiday season.

Americans especially revere Dickens' time-honoured tale, but it's no surprise the most engaging adaptation of 'A Christmas Carol' comes from its native England. There's just something about this 1951 version that screams authenticity. Yes, liberties were taken with the original novel, but the mood, atmosphere, and characterizations remain a cut above other films. Noel Langley, one of the writers of 'The Wizard of Oz,' fashions a tight screenplay, and director Brian Desmond Hurst combines whimsy and melancholy with a hint of creepiness that honours the yarn's ghost story roots. The black-and-white photography enhances the darker elements of the story, adding welcome tension, and the production design exudes a distinctly British look and feel that help immerse us in mid-19th century London.

A wealthy yet bitter man who would rather count his money than his blessings, Ebenezer Scrooge retires to his stark, run-down flat on Christmas Eve, seven years to the day after his unscrupulous business partner, Jacob Marley [Michael Hordern], passed away. A paranormal disturbance, however, in the form of Marley's chain-laden ghost, interrupts his tranquil evening. The celestial Marley warns Scrooge that unless he alters his selfish and greedy ways, he is doomed to endure a similar restless, tortured afterlife. The only way Scrooge can possibly prevent such a horrible fate is to meet with three spirits, who will try to humanize the irascible miser by revisiting his troubled past, looking at his unhappy present, and pondering his uncertain future.

All the character actors who portray the supporting parts are perfectly cast, right down to arguably the least annoying and saccharine Tiny Tim [Glyn Dearman] in any version of 'A Christmas Carol.' Yet despite their excellent work, they can't compete with Alastair Sim. His Scrooge resonates so strongly because he's always disarmingly real. A palpable sadness and air of regret seem to swirl just beneath the surface of his scowls and sneers, so we sense his vulnerability and root for him much sooner, and his ultimate transformation seems more believable because, deep down, it seems to be something Scrooge sincerely craves.

Brian Desmond Hurst's film employs some rudimentary special effects and adopts a darker tone than most, but relies on good old-fashioned storytelling and top-flight acting to put over this beloved yuletide tale. If you crave flash, music, Muppets, or 3D, there are plenty of other adaptations of 'A Christmas Carol' to tickle your fancy, but if you like your Dickens neat, with no frills or embellishments and lots of heart and substance, then this 1951 production is the one for you...and will be for many Christmases to come. God bless it, everyone!

Blu-ray Video Quality - At first glance, the 1080p image transfer for this 60th Anniversary Diamond Edition of 'A Christmas Carol' doesn't look much different than the one on the 2009 Blu-ray, but upon closer inspection I'd have to say it makes a few subtle improvements. Clarity is ever-so-slightly enhanced and contrast appears a bit more pronounced, lending the image more vibrancy. Black levels are superb, with marvellous shadow delineation emphasizing the film noir feel of many scenes. The snowy whites also hold up well, maintaining their texture in varying degrees of light. Not surprisingly, grain is fairly pronounced, but seems similar to the previous version; some scenes exhibit more than others, but it never overwhelms the picture. Close-ups are quite nice, often highlighting Alastair Sim's large, expressive eyes, and background elements exude a fair degree of detail. If you're thinking of upgrading your copy of 'A Christmas Carol' based solely on video quality, I'd say it isn't worth it. The enhancements aren't notable enough to merit the expense. But when coupled with the new audio and supplements (both described below), trading in your old copy for this new edition makes good sense.

Blu-ray Audio Quality - VCI Entertainment puts out some great flicks on home video, but the company needs some better quality control when it comes to advertising the contents of its discs. Aside from the plethora of new supplements (described below). Unfortunately, the audio options on this Blu-ray are not up to the standards set by the generally excellent image quality. The Two Digital mixes are included, the English: 5.1 Surround Sound and the 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio. Both choices sadly leave quite a bit to be desired. I frankly couldn't stand listening to the 5.1 for very long, as it is saddled with such bad chorusing and reverb that I personally found it unlistenable, that is why I have informed you above that it is best to set your amplifier to Stereo. That same chorusing effect is still apparent, though less bothersome, in the original mono track. The original track, while not egregiously damaged, has noticeable hiss and an overall boxy sound that is evident throughout both dialogue and underscore, though that problem is widely variable. For instance, the opening bass-heavy brass music sounds pretty acceptable, but then the first patch of dialogue has an over- reverbed sound. That use of reverb is similarly variable, and seems to abate once the film moves into its more intimate, interior sections. The 5.1 mix manages a few ambient surround moments, notably some of the music and foley effects during the Spirits' appearances, but there are really no "wow" moments in the surround repurposing.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Introduction by Leonard Maltin [5:06] Leonard Maltin talks about what an impression this film made on him as a kid, and also gives some background on the film. A word of warning, in the menu it says that it is in 5.1 Surround Audio, well do not have your amplifier set this way, as you must have it as Stereo, as in the 5.1 Surround Sound Audio, you get a terrible echo sensation and is very off putting.

Commentary by Marcus Hearn and George Cole: Without a doubt, the most disappointing aspect of this disc is the 2005 audio commentary by Marcus Hearn and George Cole, who plays the young Scrooge in the film. One would think Cole would have lots to impart about the film's production and its cast, but amazingly, only about a quarter of the discussion has anything at all to do with 'A Christmas Carol'; the rest focuses on Cole's career before and after the film, other British actors with whom he worked, random thoughts about Alastair Sim, and observations about making films in general. We do learn 'A Christmas Carol' was shot in the summer and many scenes were modelled after illustrations from the original book, and that the movie received mixed reviews upon its initial release. Cole talks about his close personal relationship with Alastair Sim, and how the actor mentored him, and calls director Brian Desmond Hurst "very flamboyant." More scene specific remarks would have been welcome, as well as biographical information about the cast, and facts about Dickens and the original novel. This very shoddy effort left me wondering... Why bother to have a commentary at all if the participants are going to largely ignore the film they've been enlisted to discuss? No one with any interest in 'A Christmas Carol' should waste their time listening to this rambling, unfocused mess.

Dead to Begin With: The Darker Side of a Classic [26:31] British Film Culturist Sir Christopher Frayling offers an extensive examination of the film and how it ties into the turbulence afflicting post-war Britain at the time of its initial release. He talks about, among other things, the underrated work of director Hurst, the versatility of Sim, the importance of seasoned character actors to make Dickens' novels come alive, the ominous music score, and rudimentary special effects. Frayling believes this is a darker telling of the tale than most adaptations and also more adult and substantive. Clips from other film versions of 'A Christmas Carol' from the silent era onward enhance this absorbing and comprehensive piece that's well worth a look. In fact, this featurette is so good, it begs the question... Why wasn't Frayling asked to do the commentary instead? In 26:31, we learn far more about 'A Christmas Carol' than the commentary tells us in triple the amount of time!

Scrooge by Another Name: Distributing 'A Christmas Carol’ [9:47] Film distributor Richard Gordon reminisces about financing and marketing 'A Christmas Carol,' and how producer George Minter set out to make the definitive version of Dickens' classic. Because the movie ended up darker and more serious than other adaptations, it was more difficult to distribute in the U.S., which sought more family-oriented fare during the holiday season.

The Human Blarney Stone: The Life and Films of Brian Desmond Hurst [41:14] Allan Esler Smith, the great-great nephew and biographer of Hurst, chronicles the life and career of the underrated and largely underappreciated director of 'A Christmas Carol' in this reverent documentary. More film clips illustrating Hurst's work would have been nice, along with more personal details, but the piece succeeds in shedding light on a figure who accomplished much more than directing a renowned holiday film.

Alastair Sim Version: Too Good to Be Shown Only at Christmas [32:00] Fred Guida, author of 'A Christmas Carol and Its Adaptations,' provides an insightful and absorbing audio lecture accompanied by film clips and stills from a wealth of Dickens movies. Again, much more interesting and informative than the audio commentary, this piece covers the Dickens renaissance that began with David Lean's 'Great Expectations,' adaptations of 'A Christmas Carol' from other countries, the complex character of Scrooge and how this film meticulously reflects it, how the screenplay altered and embellished various scenes from the original novel, the contributions of the fine supporting cast, and quotes both positive and negative reviews of the picture. Fans of this version definitely don't want to miss this enlightening featurette.

Scrooge (Silent) [10:17] This surprisingly entertaining – albeit a very brief silent version of 'A Christmas Carol' was produced in 1922, but not shown in the U.S.A until 1929. Henry Vernon Esmond portrays Scrooge, and the lively film efficiently hits all of the story's high points. Video quality is pretty good for a 90-year-old antique.

Bleak House [Silent] [10:14] Dame Sybil Thorndike stars as Lady Dedlock in this (very) truncated 1922 adaptation of Dickens' novel. The acting and filming styles recall the old melodramas of yore, but this is still a fun curio that's worth checking out.

Theatrical Trailers [4:00] Both the Original British and American Trailers are included. Each runs about 2 minutes, and it's interesting to note the differences between them, most notably that the American trailer continually emphasizes the film's festive and joyous aspects, while the British trailer provides a more balanced look at the movie. One thing that I thought was bad is the original British trailer, I feel they should of spent some money in upgrading this, especially as it is such a Classic British Film.

Scrooge Revisited [2:00] This short piece looks at some of the actual London locations where 'A Christmas Carol' was shot, and shows how they look today.

Campbell Playhouse: A Christmas Carol [59:22] Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, one of America's fondest holiday traditions was the annual Christmas Eve radio broadcast of 'A Christmas Carol,' starring actor Lionel Barrymore as Ebenezer Scrooge. (Barrymore was scheduled to reprise his popular role in MGM's 1938 film version, but an injury forced him to bow out, paving the way for Reginald Owen to portray Scrooge.) Here we have the rare opportunity to enjoy one of Barrymore's signature broadcasts, with a young, pre 'Citizen Kane' Orson Welles as narrator. This very faithful adaptation originally aired on December 24, 1939, and is well-acted, atmospheric, and quite involving. Just listening to the distinctive voices of Barrymore and Welles is a treat!

Bibliographic Essay by Fred Guida [15:08] This feature appears on the accompanying DVD. The voice of Fred Guida returns to recommend a litany of books, websites, and videos that focus on Dickens' life and 'A Christmas Carol.' A number of biographies are listed, as well as special collectible editions of 'A Christmas Carol,' and critical analyses of the story and Dickens' other work. For any serious Dickens fan, this is an invaluable reference.

Finally, when I first heard about the re-release of 'A Christmas Carol' a mere two years after its first Blu-ray release, I'm pleased to report this 60th Anniversary Diamond Edition is a big step up from its 2009 counterpart. Improvements include slightly better video and audio track, and a cavalcade of well-produced, substantive extras. The film itself, of course, remains a timeless classic - endearing, inspiring, festive, and just dark enough to add sufficient impact to its themes of redemption and renewal. There never was and never will be a better Scrooge than Alastair Sim and this excellent production showcases his iconic performance to perfection. So throw away that old Blu-ray and pick up this much-improved anniversary edition that's a fitting tribute to one of the world's finest holiday movies. I have of course found this the ultimate version and I am now so proud to add this to my Blu-ray Collection, as Alistair Sim is again totally perfect as the Scrooge character. The only down side to this excellent Blu-ray, is that with the Region B DVD I had in my Collection, you had samples of the colorization they did to the film and it was totally brilliant and such a shame this could not of been included with this Blu-ray disc, but luckily with this Blu-ray you do get a small glimpse of what it looked like in colour. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Andrew C. Miller - Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "a Christmas Carol", Dec 12 2003
By 
This review is from: A Christmas Carol (VHS Tape)
" a Christmas Carol" December 12, 2003
The Alastair Sim version of Christmas Carol is
the most perfect of the all the movie versions.
In black and white, brooding, with sparse sets and music
not distracting,grim detail, the ghost story that Dickens conveyed of a cold, bleak England and one man who lived there.
Jacob Marley hoping to help Scrooge
understand the cruelty of his ways and not suffering the same
fate! The souls throwing money to trying to repent from what
they did not do in life, made me cry.
(Note: see Patrick MacNee as the young Marley)
The ghosts are not gentle in
showing Scrooge the errors of his ways.
The ghost of Christmas present
telling Scrooge that 'want(the girl) and ignorance(the boy) cling to him at this time of year.
"Beware of both
but most of all beware the boy!"
Most insightful and true to this very day.
The changes in Scrooge after his ghostly visits are not phoney.
He is elated, sorrowful, and humbled by his experience.
A wonderful movie to be shown anytime of the year.
It's just a very special movie for all the family.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Diamond edition?It's more like Cubic Zirconia!, Dec 7 2011
By 
Robert Badgley (St Thomas,Ontario,Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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For the umpteenth time VCI has re-released A Christmas Carol in a,now called,Diamond Edition.They have even enlisted the talent of movie critic Leonard Maltin to introduce the film to give them more street cred and added some extras like silent versions of the film and a new 5.1 Dolby surround sound along with the original mono,and on and on.The print that many others have raved about DOES look excellent,to a point.I actually kind of re-discovered the film all over again,that is how good the picture looked.I even saw for the first time the legendary man in the mirror.If you aren't aware of the story,a stage hand is visible in mirror Sims looks into Christmas morning.
Here's the nitty-gritty.
Let's start by saying that the menu is not user friendly at all.There is no option to skip Maltin's intro,you have to push forward for that.If you go into the options menu there is a list for the commentary,the different sound options,etc.If you hit one,for example the commentary,there is no way to stop it but to come back there and hit something else like a sound option!
The film is shown in a boxed form.There are two black bars running horizontally top and bottom(like widescreen),then there are two vertical bars on either side of the picture,so the film is seen in its original a/r,not an entire full screen format(i.e. fitted to your TV screen).This is alright per se',but I will now list the defects that occur and leave the speculation as to what causes them(either poor film elements,the digital process or a manufacturers defect)to YOU.Throughout the film there are periodic white flashes along the side black bars,at one point on the far right side of the frame a distortion bar appears running vertically from top to bottom of the film,there are constant slight jumps in the film,the scene where Marley's ghost throws open Ebeneezers' door to enter,the door blurs as it opens and Ebeneezer blurs as he quickly steps-back,and finally comes the scene where two women and an undertaker are trying to sell off dead Scrooge's belongings.At one point as the second woman speaks her dialogue it cuts out completely,as her mouth continues to move,then cuts back in as her dialogue quickly catches back up to her mouth.A strange glitch.What is even stranger is that I thought I would watch the movie with the commentary on at that point,and from what I heard there is NO cut out of dialogue at that exact moment,during the commentary.Now,go figure that one out!
I can only ask VCI one thing,where is the quality control here? Does anyone there actually watch the finished product or is it just rush it out and cash in?And speaking of VCI,this is the second product of theirs in the last month I have reviewed and the other didn't fair well either because of VCI's cheap packaging which compromised the integrity of the discs inside.If you have seen Maltin's intro you will have noticed(coincidence?)two figurines to his left.They were Laurel and Hardy and the set of their films VCI released so terribly,is what I refer to.
So my final thoughts are these.VCI,after repeated releases,have finally released a half way decent print of this film but,as you have read,it is terribly fraught with glitches and defects throughout.My advice is to hold out and hope either 1)VCI gets their quality control act together and releases a much more professional and consumer friendly DVD product or 2)someone else comes along and beats them to the punch.Either way give this one a big pass.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Colouring a Classic, Dec 31 2006
By 
Dave and Joe (Toronto, Ontario) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Christmas Carol, A - Colour (DVD)
We watch "A Christmas Carol" every Christmas eve. I decided to buy this version even though, for the most part, I don't like the idea of colourizing black and white films. In this case, however, the colourized version transformed the film in only positive ways. The classic black and white film is hard to see due to the age of the film and this colourized version lights up the film and I felt like I was 'seeing' the film for the first time. Good heaven's I could see the chain around the waist of Marley's ghost! I could see the patterns on the wallpaper and curtains. Sim's portrayal of Scrooge is the benchmark and it was wonderful to see that performance afresh. So, don't hesitate to try this version even if you - like me - don't usually like them fiddling with classics.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Than Four Ways to Enjoy A Christmas Carol, Sept. 27 2007
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Gene Shalit said, "There have been at least eight movie versions [of A Christmas Carol] . . . but the single enduring version is the 1951 film starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge . . . an incomparable Christmas present." If this is your favorite version of A Christmas Carol, you should definitely buy this collector's edition.

If you haven't seen this version, let me characterize it for you. The film story closely follows the Dickens original with its emphasis on how Ebenezer Scrooge went from being a caring person who wanted to do good for others to someone who only cared about money, until four spirits (his dead partner, Jacob Marley; Christmas past; Christmas current; and Christmas future) visit him and scare Scrooge into reforming which he does on Christmas day. The acting is often overdone, featuring overreactions of the sort that were popular in vaudeville and silent pictures. Many of the actors seem miscast because they are quite plump and prosperous looking, even though they are supposed to be quite poor (this is especially true of Mervyn Johns who plays bob Cratchit, Scrooge's browbeaten, underpaid clerk.). Naturally spirits require special effects and those are pretty primitive due to the year of the film.

So why do people like it? For me, the acting by Alastair Sim as old Scrooge, Patrick MacNee as young Jacob Marley, and Glyn Dearman as Tiny Tim were not only first-rate, they moved me in many ways. Dickens's concept for the story is also pure genius. There is also some wonderful signing of Christmas carols to get you in the mood. It was nice to see such a good performance . . . especially if I didn't look too closely at the actors who didn't please me.

As I watched the original version, I found myself thinking about the choices made by the producer, director, and scriptwriters for about the first 20 minutes. But midway through the appearance of Jacob Marley in Scrooge's house, I found myself forgetting that I was watching a movie and just enjoyed the story from there.

The experience reminded me of watching old black-and-white films on the tiny screen of the Brattle Theater near Harvard Square. It was a good feeling.

Next, I looked at the expanded black-and-white version that includes the ability to fill a wide screen. This looked better, but I didn't like it as well. It didn't take me back into the world of how movies were made in 1951 as successfully.

Finally, I watched the colorized version . . . and hated it as I do almost all colorized black-and-white movies. But what can you do? Some people only want to watch color movies.

After that, I watched the 1935 version of the movie and found the quality to be so poor that it annoyed me. I gave up after about 15 minutes, thinking that I'll pick up there some other time. The 1935 version has several good qualities: the casting seems generally better, the contrasts between rich and poor are better developed, the sense of being in Dickens' London is stronger.

Watching the 1935 version made me quite appreciative of the good work done by VCI Entertainment. The images are clear, the lighting is consistent, the sound is understandable, and you don't feel like you are watching celluloid that's about to break.

For those who love all the details, you'll enjoy the various special features which include:

Before and after restoration comparison
Photo and press book gallery
Cast bios
Original trailers
Commentaries by Marcus Hearn and George Cole about "Spirit of Christmas Past," Alastair Sim, and George Minter (executive producer)

Toss away your "Bah, humbugs" and get in the Christmas Spirit!
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