Tuesday, December 3, 2019

A Christmas Carol (1951)

Alright, let's do this.

Here we are again, frabjous day callooh callay the Christmas season is here, and it is time to dismay. Which is exactly why I am taking my Christmas break early and there will be hardly any holiday cheer at all. My gift to you. But let us move on to other things. This may be the best version of Charles Dickens' story about a horrible old miser who has no love for Christmas or other people, a man I can respect, who is subjected to a fever dream of ghostly apparitions peer pressuring and coercing him through fear to like the thing that he hates. Truly the feel good movie of the year. And while many actors, some would even say too many actors, have taken on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge I personally feel Alastair Sim is the best of them all. Not only does he look like the Scrooge I see in my mind and not just another well known actor's face, but his performance alone is the reason one should see this movie. It is remarkable how he plays both sides of the coin, from a scowl of pure disgust at holiday cheer to the purest and joyful smile in the world. But what really sold me that he was the very best like no one ever was is the transition between one to the other, I fully believed that he truly did change and become a better person through the spirit's action rather than be terrified into submission of the holiday spirit. It's just little moments of pure body language and no dialogue at all that made you feel that he did regret the things he said and did, and slowly begins realizing his own faults and makes choices to better himself. This film treats Scrooge more like a human being than an archetype that needs to change, that there is both good and bad in his past and present and that it's his decisions that shape the future of those around him. That's pretty amazing, and something I've never truly felt in the countless adaptations I have seen in years gone by. All the actors do very well, and they do take minor liberties with the story, but it creates a much deeper and interesting film. I actually do recommend you watch the film in pristine black and white rather than the colorized version, it paints a sometimes ghastly picture with quite a bit of atmosphere and unease. This is essentially a ghost story and it feels as such, with a prime highlight being when the Ghost Of Christmas Future appears, all you see is a pale hand that just looks icy cold to the touch. No cloak, no shadow, no bodily form, just the hand of perhaps Death itself. It's incredibly effective and while a more basic form of the shadow of Christmas yet to come, is one of my favorites. I originally thought this film was much older, around the 1930s but it came out in the 50s, though I don't know why I thought that. At less than an hour and a half, it is worth your time to see a great performance that might very well change your outlook on this done to death story. Next time we look at the George C. Scott version from 1984!

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