Film Review A Christmas Carol


I wasn’t surprised by the tone of Becky Sharkey’s review — in the Los Angeles Times — of Robert Zemeckis’ production of “A Christmas Carol,” yet another corruption of Charles Dickens’ morality story.

Sharkey gives the filmmaker some credit for the effects he creates:

“The film really does work the 3-D application in remarkable ways, possibly the best that we’ve seen from filmmakers, almost making the cost of those weird glasses worth it.

“But the most affecting multidimensional moments are not the blown-out action sequences with this or that tumbling toward you, which is what you might expect. Instead, it’s the way you seem to float through the snow and over the rooftops of London, the sensation of movement and depth making it feel as if you’re perched on the cameraman’s shoulder as he swings the lens around, capturing the city and its citizens from all sides.”



Overall, though, Sharkey found the film overbearing and in no way endearing.

I’m on record ad nauseam as disdaining movie makers who think they can tell the stories of a Dickens or a Lewis Carroll or a Victor Hugo better than the authors themselves. I’m too tired to beat that drum right now.

I was amused, however, by two passages in this review:

“We won’t linger on the story, since you’ve no doubt caught one of the countless adaptations since the Charles Dickens piece was first published in 1843.”

“The dialogue includes lines many of us could recite by rote from watching various tellings of the story over the years (an excellent version with George C. Scott is one of my favorites).”

It didn’t occur to Sharkey, apparently, that someone might have actually read the story.

You can read Sharkey’s review at this link:,0,1734067.story





I anticipate with some trepidation the release of the new Disney film version of Charles Dickens’ story, “A Christmas Carol.” This film, due to be released in November, will be a 3-D, high-tech extravaganza in which Jim Carrey plays Ebenezer Scrooge and the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future.

Carrey has said that one of his greatest inspirations for the role of Scrooge was Alastair Sim’s performance in the 1951 British movie “Scrooge,” which was released in the United States as “A Christmas Carol.” Having read all of Dickens’ work, having read all of his novels mulitple times, having read “A Christmas Carol” at least once a year since 1955, I regard the Alastair Sim film to be the best attempt at translating the story to the screen – although I maintain that the story should be read on the page as Dickens intended, and that it can only be diminished when it is tampered with by screen writers and directors.




What concerns me is that the Disney bunch will trivialize Dickens’ angry attack on materialistic values – a mood not entirely out of place in the world of AIG executives and Bernard Madloff. As it is, one has to search long and hard to find an adult who reads Dickens at all. Skewed versions of his work only serve to distort its meaning and obscure its value. Millions of kids who are exposed to such a presentation will go through life thinking it represents Dickens’ intentions.

I realize that I am an anachronism for suggesting that people read the classics without being required to. It’s too much work for a generation whose reading matter must fit on the screen of a Blackberry and be brief enough to be digested before the light changes to green. I once suggested that a local book club lay off the contemporary novels for a month and read “Oliver Twist” or “Great Expectations,” and the suggestion was brushed off as if it were babble coming from a dark corner in a nursing home. 




One of the things that makes me suspicious of the Disney movie is that Carrey will play four roles and – according to the publicity – give each one its distinctive personality. What is the purpose of that? It sounds like little more than a stunt, and the fact that the producers are approaching the film in this way – and the memory of all the wacky imagery that has characterized some of Carrey’s successful roles in the past – don’t seem consistent with the mood of Dickens’ story.

Call me old-fashioned. I am.

A clip from the film can be seen at this link: