|Index||3 reviews in total|
We can only wonder how the world of literature (and indirectly of
movies) might have changed had not Charles Dickens wandered past a
cemetery one day and noticed an weatherbeaten tombstone on which was
carved "Scrooge. Miser. Died without a Friend" With just that as a
foundation his writers imagination soared and he gave us a novel which
is loved to this day.
Many filmmakers also found a challenging topic in the short novel and film version of the popular story started popping up early in movie history. Thomas Edison got there first and the first person to play Ebeneezer Scrooge was Charles Ogle, the Edison stock company player who would go on to be the first Frankenstein monster just 2 years later.
We all know the story, but Edison's version was just one reel and so a lot had to be dropped. Gone is Scrooge's nephew and Bob Crachit is nowhere to be seen but it's the ghosts we care about, right? Well they are there in all their surrealist glory. Edison "borrowed" some techniques from Georges Melies as the spirits teach the miserly Ebeneezer his lesson. Double and even triple exposures, which were pioneered by Edison photographer Edwin S. Porter in shorts like DREAMS OF A RAREBIT FIEND in 1906, are used to the fullest here. Okay so the effects are a little bit creaky today, I'll bet people could not take their eyes of the screen back in 1908! The visions of Scrooge's past life and his bleak future are still quite good and performances are better than average.
People used to todays overabundance of CGI will probably say "Humbug!" to this oldie but I for one still enjoy it very much. Give it a try, and don't wait for next Christmas to check it out.
It is impossible to praise this film too highly. It reproduces the story as closely as it is possible to do in a film and the technical excellence of the work cannot be questioned. The photography, the staging and the acting are all of the best, and the story told is always impressive. The scene where the little girl is the only one who will love the old man is touching and brought the tears to more than one pair of eyes in the audience. Such films cannot be too highly commended. They are a welcome relief from the riot of bloodshed which has marred the moving picture shows of New York and other cities far too long. Even though it costs a fortune almost to prepare such a film, it is quite likely that the public will patronize it sufficiently to make good the extraordinary outlay. The Moving Picture World, January 2, 1909
The history of "A Christmas Carol" and of the movies that have been
made of it and adapted from it is fascinating, but it did not begin
with Charles Dickens ever seeing a tombstone with the name "Scrooge" on
it. Dickens was touring children's work houses and slums in preparation
for writing a series of articles on poverty and social abuses of the
poor in England when the idea for the story hit upon him. Not as
colorful as story as the tombstone, but it shows that Dickens's main
purpose to begin with was not just to write about the redemption of an
unlovable man but to make a larger comment on the materialism and
social injustices of his time.
As for the moves, I personally think the 1938 and 1951 versions are by far the best, not only because they share Dickens's social conscience, but because the characters and caricatures replicate Dickens's writing so well, and visually they look like the original illustrations. They really knew how to do Dickens in those days!
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