aka A Christmas Carol
THE STORY:Is there anyone reading this this hasn't read or watched this story before? It does not belong in the Inferno, except for this time of year. Its a wonderful story and could never be condemned to the pit. Yet, I present it here only to spread Holiday spirit.
There are numerous versions of this movie. There may be better ones than this one. There are certainly worse ones. There are a few modern versions, one starring Susan Lucci, that I really hate. But the version on display here is starring Alastair Sim and directed by George Minter. It was made in1951 and I got my copy from taping the History channel several years ago. its really good. I watch it during the holidays every year.
Now, for anyone who's been living on Mars for the last century, the story of "A Christmas Carol" was written by Charles Dickens in 1843. It was basically his rant against the wretched treatment of the poor in England at the time, and a kind of redemption/ morality story. It goes as this: In 19th century England there was an old man named Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge is a real jerk. He's rich, and he's greedy. He's mean and grouchy. But scrooge is a successful businessman.
Scrooge treats everyone badly. There's little joy in his life. The only thing he respects is money. His entire state of being is centered around making money. I won't profess to understand what Scrooge's business is. I don't. but I know he's good at it and he's rich. He has one clerk that works for him, Bob Cratchid. Scrooge doesn't pay Cratchid a lot and Cratchid has a large family to take care of. One of his sons is called Tiny Tim. Tim is a sickly boy and crippled. Scrooge also has a nephew that he doesn't care much for. Scrooge started his business with his equally as greedy partner, Jacob Marley. but Marley died on Christmas eve seven years before our present tale.
After a long day of mistreating others, Scrooge is on his way home. He's begrudgingly gave Bob Cratchid Christmas Day off, and he;s pretty much cursed out people collecting money for the poor and his nephew. all because they have the Christmas spirit. But when Scrooge arrives at his home his hears the ghostly voice of Jacob Marley calling his name. Shrugging this off, scrooge retires to go to bed. He's sitting outside his bedroom, eating a bowl of gruel or something when all of his clocks start going off and suddenly the Ghost of Jacob Marley appears! Marley is dragging a heavy chain and seems forlorn.
At first Scrooge denies that he's seeing this, but Marley convinces him (mostly by scaring the living crap out of him) that he's for real. you see, Marley and Scrooge spent their lives making a buck (or pound or pence or quid...whatever they call it the UK) and caring nothing for others. Now that Marley's dead he's been punished for his crimes. Forced to "wear the chain he forged in life" from years of selfishness, he must forever walk the earth and lament the love of humanity that he himself never sought out or gave. Marley comes to warn Scrooge that unless he changes his ways he'll be in the same position. Scrooge's only hope is the visitations of Three spirits. At first Scrooge doesn't want this...he's scared...and who wouldn't be? I'm sure that Scrooge felt that he was a 'good' man, in his narrow view. Plus the shock of being told by A GHOST that you have to see three more ghosts tonight can sink any boner into the ground.
The first ghost to visit Scrooge is the ghost of Christmas Past. This spirit shows Scrooge his past and how, by letting greed blind him, he ignored his late sister's final wish and became a greedy, mean old man. The second spirit is the ghost of Christmas Present. This spirit shows Scrooge things that are going on at the present holiday. Scrooge learns how dearly Bob Cratchid loves his family and especially his son, Tiny Tim. Scrooge also sees how his nephew that he's ignored is hurt by his refusal to see him and even disappointed that Scrooge won't have Christmas dinner with him.Scrooge also sees the woman he left behind his past, Alice. These visions have a profound influence on the old grouch. Scrooge begins to see how his mean-spirited and selfish nature has had an effect on others...others who actually care about him. But still he's unrepentant just enough for....
The Spirit of Christmas Future! This spirit is more like Death. Dressed all in black, this spirit shows Scrooge his future on Christmas in the near to be. Tinny Tim is dead and Cratchid and his family are heartbroken. Cratchid just couldn't afford to take his son to a doctor or something or provide enough to keep the sickly little boy alive. Scrooge doesn't get a lot clues presented to him...he's dead in this future. He's dead and all of the people he knew him are all saying some pretty [unwrite]ty, but true things about him. Scrooge finally learns...he never cared about anyone but himself so no one cared about him. He never let a little bit of love or light into his heart and thus he missed out on the love and fun life has to offer. At least he doesn't get it until the spirit shows Scrooge his grave.
Now, here's where the popular theory of Christmas redemption and I kind of part company. After seeing his grave Scrooge becomes repentant. But how sincere can that be? I mean, if a spirit or angel or whatever told me to change my ways or I'll be dead soon, I'd change...out of fear! No one wants to die! (No one sane at least) I don't see Scrooge's change as some great Christmas miracle...to me its a bid for self preservation! Maybe I need to be visited by three spirits, but that's just the way I feel about it.
But on with the story....and for the story's sake I'll buy the fact that all of this has had a profound effect on Scrooge and made him see the light, Scrooge awakens on Christmas morning, knowing that the spirits have given him a second chance. He's happy as hell, and filled with the Christmas spirit! He starts spreading money around, giving his housekeeper a raise, secretly sending a huge turkey to Bob Cratchid and visiting his nephew. As the tale ends we learn that Scrooge lived for many years afterwards and so did Tiny Tim. Scrooge has given Cratchid a raise and vowed to help him in his struggle to support his family. As a matter of fact Scrooge becomes like a second father to Tiny Tim. What a happy ending.
I'm still jaded. I just don't buy it. Scrooge might have changed but it was under duress! He was basically told he was a dead man (and would have to drag around big ass heavy chains like Marley in the Afterlife) if he didn't change! I'd like to believe that the whole thing was because he finally started to get a little Christmas spirit, but I just can't. Man, I'm a real Grinch, huh?
Well, one cool thing about this movie is I like seeing the way that people had Christmas back then. These days we're so bombarded by advertisements and shopping that its hard to see the true meaning of Christmas...not that I know it myself. I just know its not supposed to be spending all of your money and maxing out your credit cards. Its supposed to be about the birth of Christ and even if you don't believe in that its still about love....and no matter how much money you spend this holiday you can't buy that.
***Hey...Bruce Edwards, the talented Bad Cinema diarist sent me an email on why Scrooge changed! It makes a lot of sense and you can read it on the Infernal Mail page!***
Best Lines:"You might be an undigested bit of beef, a piece of cheese...a fragment of an underdone potato! There's more of gravy than of grave in you, whatever you are."- Scrooge doubts that he is really speaking to Marley's ghost. He thinks its just his tummy being upset.
"I wear the chain I forged in life, I made it link by link, and yard by yard, I girded it on by my own free will and by own free will...I wore it!"- Marley explains his awful fate to Scrooge.
"You will be visited by three spirits..."- I just like that line. whenever someone pisses me off around the holidays I say this to them. Marley said it to Scrooge to let him know about his chance for redemption.
"Bear but a touch of my hand and you shall be upheld by more than this..."- The spirit of Christmas Past assures Scrooge that he won't fall if he walks with him through the window.
"Come in, come in and know me better, man....I am the Spirit of Christmas Present! Look upon me! You have never seen the like of me before, have you?"- The spirit of Christmas Present is very cool in his introduction.
"I don't mind going if there's a luncheon provided....but I must be fed, or else I stay at home!"- A fat man says that he won't go to Scrooge's funeral unless there's a free meal in it.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?:
1.)I suppose you'd have to see this version of the movie to know what I'm talking about, but the toys that Tiny Tim is looking at near the beginning of the movie are downright horrifying! Weird evil looking clowns and the like!
2.)Scrooge has some brass balls! Okay, we all know he's a dickhead, but he does have some guts. Basically people in horror movies do this...go into a place when obvious signs that something is kind of wrong are about. Scrooge returns home on Christmas Eve...the seventh anniversary of Jacob Marley's death. Before he even opens the door to his large, dark, spooky looking and empty house he hears a ghostly voice call his name. When he looks at the door knocker he sees Marley's face....He even says "Jacob Marley!" so we know he saw it! Yet he goes in! He still hears the voice calling his name and he just shouts "Humbug!". Dude, if that was MY house and the ghost of a dead guy was calling my name I'd have been outta there! When Marley does make his ghostly appearance Scrooge yells at him "Who are you? what do you want?" Now that's guts! If a transparent dude covered in chains comes into my bedroom I'm leaving via the window! ( Hey, I'm a man...I'd toss my wife out first...then I'd have something to land on!....JUST KIDDING! : ) )
3.)According to this movie, Scrooge took possession of Marley's house when he died. YIKES! Scrooge has been living in the man's house and SLEEPING in his bed all of those years! No wonder he's being haunted!
4.)When the ghost of Christmas Present opens his robe to show Scrooge "Ignorance" and "Want" I almost wanted to yell "No! don't open your robe! I don't wanna see your unit, you spectral flasher! Noooo!"
NUDITY AND SEX:None! Its Christmas for Pete's Sake!
HUH?:Scrooge might have cut a little time out of his redemption! Before Marley's ghost leaves he shows him spirits outside of his house. spirits that are condemned as Marley is, and are lamenting that they cannot offer aid in human affairs, Particularly a woman outside in the cold holding a small child. Scrooge should have let her inside!
The Ghost of Christmas Future may as well be carrying a scythe! He looks like the Grim Reaper. He acts like the Grim Reaper. I almost expected Scrooge to pull off his veil and shout "You're not the Ghost of Christmas Future! You're the Grim Reaper!"
After Scrooge's night with the spirits, in a scene I'm sure most of us know, he yells from a window to a young boy to go get the butcher in a shop nearby and bring him the prize turkey (So he can send it to Bob Cratchid) Its Christmas Day! The butcher shop is open!? Actually, I can buy that. Its 1843. (or somewhere around that date...that's when Dickens wrote this story) People like butcher's may have well worked on that day. Its not like you could really keep meat and perishables fresh for a long time like today...I'm just a little awed. When I was a kid if you didn't have batteries for a certain toy on Christmas day the only option was to go to 7-11! Stuff open on Christmas Day! What an idea!
THE TALLY:Since there are so many versions of this movie its hard to actually grade it. You may be familiar with a different version that you like more than the Alastair Sim one. That's fine. Christmas is no time to argue about which one sucks or which one is best. I only include this movie in the Infernal Archives so I could tell you all something I could just say with a few words....and that's
Merry Christmas Everyone! And a Happy Happy New Year!