The Many Faces of Dickens’ Christmas Carol

This time of year I like nothing better than popping in my DVD of A Christmas Carol starring George C. Scott in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Since Charles Dickens first published his famous holiday novella in 1843 the story has taken on a life of its own, and enjoyed hundreds of re-publications, re-interpretations, and reimaginings.  Since I’ve shared my love of my favorite version of A Christmas Carol, I thought I might spend the rest of this post sharing some other favorite versions, both print and video, of this timeless tale.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: With 45 Lost Gustave Doré Engravings (1861) And 150 Other Victorian Illustrations ; introduction by Dan Malan

I love this edition for the Gustave Doré illustrations, and the loads of other great period drawings. It’s a very handsome book!

The field of children’s books has enjoyed dozens of dynamite re-tellings of Dickens’ tale of Christmas redemption, but none carry greater artistry and impact than artist Brett Helquist  and writer Josh Greenhut’s brooding yet ultimately hopeful adaptation.

Helquist’s evocative artwork (seen on the above cover) and Greenhurt’s tight, but faithful adaptation of Dickens’ text earned the pair great praise from School Library Journal and other sources. It’s suitable for grades 3 and up.

Plenty of animated versions exist, but the one I remember most fondly from my childhood remains Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol  directed by Abe Levitow.

With Mr. Magoo in the Scrooge role the story manages to be a bit more whimsical while  maintaining those scary, supernatural moments. The animation might seem crude by today’s lofty standards, but it does the job!

This post would not be complete without a mention of Bill Murray’s ScroogedDirector Richard Donner turns Mr. Murray loose on Dickens’ classic, and this modern (1988) re-telling possesses plenty of spirits (David Johansen among them)  and fun.

Carol Kane turns in a hilarious performance as a ghost who quite literally beats the Christmas spirit  into mean-spirited TV executive Frank Cross (Murray). Although ragged in places, Mr. Murray does his level best in this one, and delivers a performance as edgy as it is fun.

One cannot end any discussion of A Christmas Carol without mentioning the Muppet version!  The Muppet Christmas Carol features Jim Henson’s famous creations re-telling the classic tale.

Michael Cain as Scrooge?  Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit?  Miss Piggy as Emily Cratchit?  Sign me up!  If you dig the Muppets and you haven’t seen this one yet, I can’t think of a better time to check it out!

I could go on and on listing further versions, but instead I’d like to ask folks what their favorite treatments of A Christmas Carol are. Well, got any notable ones I’ve missed?

Lets us know!



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8 responses to “The Many Faces of Dickens’ Christmas Carol

  1. I have to say that I have never seen Scrooged or Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, but I do remember watching The Muppet Christmas Carol when I was a kid and have watched it almost every year. It has to be one of my favorite muppet movies!

  2. The George C. Scott version is my favorite adaptation of A Christmas Carol, too! I just watched it last night. I think it is one of the best, most faithful, well-acted ever made (and also little known). It’s funny, poignant, and beautifully filmed.

  3. I knew there were other George C. Scott CC fans out there!

    Although not a faithful adaptation, last year’s Doctor Who Christmas special also features a nice riff on the classic tale.


  4. Linda

    My favorite is Scrooge, with Albert Finney in the title role. This rendition of Dicken’s story gets a musical treatment, with many lively tunes. One of my favorite scenes is that of the visiting Ghost of Christmas Present, played with gusto by Kenneth More. Finney does a great job of portraying Ebenezer as he slowly transforms from his miserly ways into a good-hearted person.

  5. Yes, definitely, that’s my second favorite version. The music is surprisingly good in that one–and you still can’t get the original motion picture soundtrack on CD yet!

  6. Don

    As a child, the classic black and white Christmas Carol (titled Scrooge in Great Britain) with Alastair Sim, scared the bejeezus out of me and, for that, I still hold it in great affection. Not so much true to the original, except perhaps in spirit. Sim was marvelous.

  7. Marian

    I love the Mr. Magoo version. It has so many happy musical moments in it, it just makes me smile.

  8. Pingback: Christmas at the Movies | Eleventh Stack

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