How many times have you seen the classic holiday story, A Christmas Carol? Written by Charles Dickens and published in 1843, this timeless story is available in many different live action and animated versions.
Daughter Adriel and I have an annual tradition. We watch the 1984 George C. Scott adaptation together, something we’ve done since her birth the same year. Other family members join us some years. At other times, like this evening, it’s just the two of us.
You can catch thoughts from previous viewings here and also here. After watching this particular movie 34 times, is there anything left to share about this transformative journey type of story? Yes there is!
A Christmas Carol
The 1984 film stars George C. Scott, Frank Finlay, Edward Woodward, Angela Pleasence, Roger Rees, David Warner and Susannah York. It was directed by Clive Donner and has a run time of 1 hour and 40 minutes.
A Christmas Carol is the story of a miserly, hard-hearted businessman, Ebenezar Scrooge, whose life is changed as he learns about compassion from three spirits who visit one Christmas Eve.
Our Observations after 34 Years
We’ve seen this movie many times, and yet new insights pop up because we are different versions of ourselves each year. And some scenes continue to delight us, no matter how many times we watch them.
Here are our thoughts this year:
Pain Built a Wall
George C. Scott plays Ebenezer beautifully, capturing his intelligence, rigid yet regal bearing, and the pain he’s used over the years to build an impenetrable barrier around his heart. He holds people at arm’s length because at his core, he doesn’t trust anyone. Money making is his business and he’s very adept at acquiring wealth.
Adriel remarked that the older she gets, the more she appreciates the complexity of Scrooge’s character. “After all,” she quipped, “he isn’t entirely wrong.” That’s what I love about the character too. He possesses wisdom even when he lacks compassion. His words have the bite of truth, even if they are harsh.
Love Still Gets Through that Wall
I noticed something new during the scene with Fred, near the beginning of the film. Scrooge taunts his nephew about Christmas, calling it a humbug for the first time. He even gets in a poke about Fred’s wife, who did not bring financial gain to the marriage.
Scrooge spars effectively with words. However when Fred mentions that he and his wife love each other, and implies that’s more important than wealth, the fight goes out of Scrooge. His eyes shift away and he abruptly ends the conversation.
As we later see in Scrooge’s past, he loved a woman once. Speaking of, thinking of love disarms him and ushers in regret.
Fred is Adorable
Scrooge’s nephew Fred, played by Roger Rees, initially made us giggle during his scenes. He’s just so positive, in an almost goofy way, and extremely excitable. Playing party games at home with his guests he gushes so enthusiastically that he trips over his words.
Through the years, Fred has endeared himself to us. His curly hair threatens to overpower his slender face, however his good heart does shine forth brilliantly. He never stops believing in the power of love and acceptance and he’s confident his uncle will come around someday. We love Fred.
Mrs. Dilber Will Always Make Us Cackle
This earthy character, played by Liz Smith, steals the scene in which she is selling Scrooge’s bed linens in a future scenario. Her sly expressions and the way she words her sentiments makes us laugh every…single…time. We don’t even fight it any longer. We simply enjoy her few minutes in the film.
This dear woman has been a part of our Christmas celebrations for many, many years. I looked her up as I wrote this section and discovered the actress died two years ago on Christmas Eve, at the age of 95. Somehow that date seems fitting for her exit from this world into glory. Bless her.
The Ghost of Christmas Future
The Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House, affected our viewing of A Christmas Carol tonight. The creepy ghosts lurking about in Hill House made me peer into the shadows deep within Scrooge’s old mansion. If you’ve seen Hill House, you know what I mean. Barely detectable ghosts fill the dark places behind the main action in the story. Once you see them in an episode, you noticed them everywhere.
I peered harder into the backgrounds in A Christmas Carol. Although I didn’t see additional ghosts, I noticed how spooky that old house really is.
And the Ghost of Christmas Present, who has always bothered Adriel, made us think of Bent Neck Lady in Hill House. His creepiness rose considerably with that comparison.
Honoring Christmas All the Year
I’m grateful for our 34th viewing of A Christmas Carol. I’m thankful as well that Adriel shares my love for this story. We look forward to our tradition each year.
Dickens’ characters and words inspire me, so much so that I had a shirt made with a quote from the movie.
MiliLou Styles created a long sleeved t shirt for me, with Scrooge’s tearful declaration toward the end of the story.
“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.”
His words signaled a change in his heart, which opened wide again. He became a joyful and compassionate man, the person he was always meant to be. I applaud his transformation every December.
The shirt will serve as a reminder of Scrooge’s journey. I think I’ll wear it throughout the year.