MERRY CHRISTMAS! Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2018 comes to a close with Balladeer’s Blog’s look at this neglected 1982 Australian cartoon version.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1982) – Burbank Films of Australia produced this mediocre at best animated version of the Dickens classic. Previously I reviewed the 1969 Australian cartoon version and if you were to go strictly by this 1982 rendition of A Christmas Carol you would think that Australian animation technology had not progressed one bit since 1969.
Background figures often don’t move at all and the ones that do just repeat the same gestures and gesticulations ad nauseum like in early video games. There’s also a delayed reaction element to every dialogue exchange early on. The Australian accents add a bit of novelty but that was also true of the 1969 version.
Moving on to the story, Nephew Fred’s visit to his Uncle Ebenezer and Bob Cratchit largely sticks to dialogue directly taken from the novel but pointlessly throws in meaningless asides here and there. The delayed reactions in the early exchanges of dialogue really stick out here. It’s like you’re watching live actors who take a while to remember their next line.
The dialogue flows much better between Scrooge and the two Charity Collectors. Bob Cratchit’s farewell to his boss is trimmed to the bone, robbing it of any impact, but this IS one of those versions which shows Bob joining children in sliding along the sidewalk ice like an overgrown kid so that’s nice.
Marley’s Ghost is just average to look at, but the creative team behind this production prove they GET the point of his curse:
Many versions of A Christmas Carol leave out the crucial part of the suffering experienced by Marley and the other selfish spirits. It doesn’t come just from the chains and strongboxes they drag around, but from the fact that, now that they can empathize with the suffering of the living poor, as ghosts they are helpless to ease that pain.
They’re tormented by the sight of the misery they could have eased in life, but it’s far too late now. This cartoon version of the Carol emphasizes that, and understands that Marley is being granted a mercy on this anniversary of his death by being permitted to intercede on behalf of his old partner Ebenezer Scrooge. THAT’S “what’s in it for Marley.”
The Powers That Be let him for once ACT on the aching desire to impact the living. And as we all know, saving Scrooge leads to Ebenezer himself actively easing the suffering of many of the living himself after this eventful night. Most live-action Carols fail to make this clear, but this animated version does.
The Ghost of Christmas Past appears as a male child dressed in the garb of early Christians, simultaneously leaving out Dickens’ reference to this spirit being of indeterminate gender but retaining the nod to ancient Christianity. The destinations in Scrooge’s past are adequately handled and Belle doesn’t overstay her welcome like she does in so many other versions.
Christmas Present is garbed in red instead of green and the plenty he’s supposed to be surrounded by isn’t at all impressive. It’s pretty chintzy in fact. On the plus side, though, this Ghost throws in plenty of side visits from the novel, NOT just the Cratchits and Nephew Fred’s Christmas celebrations. Tiny Tim is okay but not particularly memorable.
Ignorance and Want are depicted as weak and pathetic, completely lacking the hints at violence and predation that should accompany their ragged and lean look. There’s no sense of Dickens’ searing descriptive lines like “In eyes where angels should have sat enthroned, devils lurked.”
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come hits the mark a little better and brings Scrooge’s spiritual journey to a proper close. This Carol throws in a look at the businessman who becomes the new occupant of the late Scrooge’s old office and how that successor happily greets the annual charity collectors at Christmas time.
The wrap-up is merely okay, and is lacking in emotional punch as so much of the rest of this production was.
I really enjoy the segments where this Carol goes above and beyond other versions by emphasizing elements that those other versions overlook. Unfortunately the creative team seems to grow bored during the well-traveled portions of the story and just slip into neutral, barely putting forth any effort.
If the entire 75 minutes of this cartoon production equaled the wonderful highs of the neglected niches it shines light on this could have been a classic. As it is, this is a very flawed version of A Christmas Carol but it does have a certain re-watchability. Maybe not every year but every two or three years at least.
Well, that wraps up another Christmas Carol-A-Thon! Be here the Friday after Thanksgiving when the 2019 edition begins! +++
FOR MORE VERSIONS OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/a-christmas-carol-2/