I have several dozen video versions of the Charles Dickens classic and for years now I have filled the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas watching umpteen different adaptations of this epic myth of the Industrial Age.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1969) – Air Programs International produced this fun animated version from Australia. There are books out there whose reviewers trash this version of A Christmas Carol but their reviews are so loaded with factual errors about this cartoon that I can’t help but wonder when the last time was that they actually watched it.
This 46 minute long adaptation begins with a scene at Jacob Marley’s funeral as Scrooge negotiates the “hard bargain” that the novel refers to. From there it’s on to the memorable Christmas Eve visit from Scrooge’s nephew Fred, and the Australian accents instead of the usual British accents provide a nice novelty all by themselves. Fred sings a very brief and very odd song, but don’t be alarmed if you hate musical versions of this tale – Joy to the World is the only other song featured and it isn’t sung until the end.
The artwork in this version of the familiar tale is excellent and really conveys a sense of the cold, grey London winters. The boldest departure in the spirits comes in the depiction of Marley’s Ghost, which is depicted with a head fully encased in a flame that flickers like a candle instead of with the usual faint stirrings of Marley’s hair “as from hot breath or fire” as Dickens wrote.
The remaining ghosts are presented as fairly bland and almost indistinguishable, unfortunately, and the story unfolds in a fun but not classic way. One of the catchy bits involves a running gag with Scrooge starting to sneeze, but being unable to attain relief as the sneezes are constantly stifled. After his Christmas Morning conversion, however, he at last achieves orga -uh, sneeze relief.
No version of A Christmas Carol can really be bad when it stays as faithful to the source material as this one does, so ignore the naysayers and give this one a try.
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