A Christmas Carol (1984)
a christmas carol | clive donner | roger o. hirson | george c. scott | frank finlay | angela pleasence | drama | family | fantasy | united kingdom | united states | christmas | ghost | ghosts | edward woodward | michael carter | david warner | susannah york | michael gough
Film: A Christmas Carol
Director: Clive Donner
Writer: Roger O. Hirson
Starring: George C. Scott, Frank Finlay and Angela Pleasence
This is a retelling of the classic Charles Dickens novel. I watched and reviewed this as it was listed on in a horror film encyclopedia I own. This film is a loose horror film, but like many tales from the past, it does have some darker tones. The official synopsis is an old bitter miser who rationalizes his uncaring nature learns real compassion when three spirits visit him on Christmas Eve.
We kick off this film in the office of Ebenezer Scrooge (George C. Scott). With him is employee Bob Cratchit (David Warner). We learn quickly that Scrooge hates Christmas and he is not very giving. His nephew comes to visit, Silas (Nigel Davenport), and despite how his uncle treats him, he still loves him. We get more of his nature as his peers ask him to donate some of his wealth to help the poor and he refuses. We also meet Bob’s handicapped son, Tiny Tim (Anthony Walters). He walks with a crutch, but the boy has a great spirit.
Scrooge goes home and that night he is visited by three ghosts, Ghost of Christmas Past (Angela Pleasence), Ghost of Christmas Present (Edward Woodward) and Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Michael Carter). The past shows him things that made him what he is today and the things that he missed out on. The present shows those around him and what they think of him. The future then shows what will come if he doesn’t change.
For this review, I didn’t want to go too in-depth about what happened as we all probably know the basics of the story. For this film, I felt really bad for the young Scrooge. He had a stern father and he never lived up to the expectations that were set up for him. This contributes to him valuing money over relationships and being frugal. It was also sad seeing the love of his life leaving him and not even fighting for her.
In the present, it really touched my heart to see the Cratchit family. They don’t have a lot, but Bob never complains. His spirit is also in his son Tiny Tim. The film never states what is wrong with the boy, but there seems to be a treatment that can help him. The problem is that it is too expensive. Despite this though, the boy loves all those around him and he wants touch everyone’s lives.
Something I should state is that I despise Christmas. I definitely can get behind Scrooge’s hatred of the holiday for different reasons. He doesn’t like it, because it takes away from the work and he doesn’t like to give money. His frugal nature is not something that I can get behind. I personally hate the holiday for the commercialism that it has now become. This film did make me feel for those in his life and want to see the change in him.
As I alluded to earlier, I wouldn’t necessarily call this film horror. It does contain a lot of elements though. There are ghosts. Jacob Marley (Frank Finlay), the first ghost to visit him was quite creepy as was the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The latter didn’t have any lines, but just the look. There is also a depressing nature to the film and for the future; it is pretty bleak as well. I feel at least well enough to include it for these reasons.
The pacing of the film is really good as well. This was actually a television film and was probably fit into a two hour time slot. The film itself runs 100 minutes and I thought it moved through everything very well. I never got bored and I thought the change in the character was fitting for what he saw. I thought the ending was good for the story as well.
Acting in this film was great. Scott has really become one of my favorite actors of all time the more films I see him in. He plays the role of Scrooge perfectly. I thought Finlay, Pleasence, Woodward and Carter were all solid as the individual ghosts. Woodward especially for the robe and chest hair he has exposed. Warner and Susannah York are both really good as well. They are the married couple with a slew of children, who I all thought were solid as well. Shout out to Michael Gough, who has a minor role in the film as it was good to see him. The rest of the cast have good performances to round out the film for what was needed as well.
For the effects of the film, there weren’t really a lot of them. The ones used were pretty primitive for the time which is fine. It was mostly just used for transitions when the ghosts are taking Scrooge to different places. None of them blew me away though. I also thought the film was shot very well. It looked good for a television movie.
The score of the film I also thought was good. It actually started more cheery than I expected, but the music really helps to set the mood they were going for. The score doesn’t stand out as one of the greats, but it definitely solid.
Now with that said, this is a good retelling of this story. I really like the concept behind this film and the message it is conveying. The acting is really good, which I would say the best part of the film for sure. The effects are a little dated, but luckily there aren’t a lot of them and it doesn’t really need them. The score of the film is also solid for what was needed. I have said that this isn’t necessarily horror, but it does have some elements in it which is why I’m including in this in my horror film research. Overall, I would recommend giving this film a viewing, it is a good version of it.
My Rating: 8 out of 10