I’ll come right out and admit it – I’ve always been a sucker for any version of A Christmas Carol. Trouble is, most adaptations distort the story or are produced by people who don’t seem to “get” the story or treat it like it’s a children’s tale. Anyone who thinks that needs to read the novelette again. My love of mythology is partly why I love the story so much.
A Christmas Carol is the closest thing to an Epic Myth the Industrial Age has produced. The language Dickens uses is very close to prose poetry but precious few adaptations of the story preserve enough of it.
That brings us to Patrick Stewart‘s one-man stage presentation of A Christmas Carol. (NOT the fairly lame made-for-tv movie he did on TNT) Stewart does all the voices and pretty much all the sound effects and his presentation is magnificent. It’s NOT a book-on-tape, it’s Patrick Stewart acting out the story by himself, like he did on Broadway in the 1980’s.
Stewart clearly “gets” the story and includes all the crucial parts that many adaptations omit, and since he’s taking the lines faithfully from the book, it’s also made clear, like in the book ,that MARLEY IS NOT JEWISH, he’s referred to in the book as a Christian, just like Scrooge is.
If people want to get on Dickens for his anti-semitic portrayal of Fagin in the novel Oliver Twist (not the cleaned-up, loveable rogue that Fagin is in the musical Oliver!) feel free to, but let’s abandon this bizarre notion that people have been pushing that Marley is supposed to be an anti-semitic Jewish caricature.
Anyway, the audio release of Patrick Stewart’s one-man show (available since the late 1980’s) is my all-time favorite of the literally dozens of adaptations of A Christmas Carol that I own. It is genuinely moving, not schmaltzy.
In Balladeer’s Blog’s tradition of singing the praises of things that slip through the cultural cracks I’ll be focusing on many of the more obscure versions of Dickens’ Christmas classic, be they live action, animated or audio, from all around the world. Well-known versions like the ones with Alistair Sim, George C Scott, The Muppets, Mr Magoo etc will not be featured, just the out of the way ones in keeping with the overall theme of my blog. And in honor of Patrick Stewart I’ll close by saying “Ga-Lang! Ga-Lang!”