Balladeer’s Blog’s 10th Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues with this eeriest of all the versions to date!
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2012) – This adaptation of A Christmas Carol was a noble effort to try something different that was not just a gimmick. Ignore the negative IMDb reviews which accuse this adaptation of using “Elizabethan language.” They’re off by a few hundred years, since in reality the dialogue follows that in the Dickens novel of 1843.
This 2012 version of A Christmas Carol boasts absolutely beautiful cinematography. Its emphasis is on the eerie nature of the story and has the look of a horror film much of the time. It has assorted flaws which I’ll cover as we go along but I almost hate having to cover the negative aspects of such a brave experiment.
I will take a hundred creative attempts like this, which may fall short but are trying something new, over one more soulless item which updates the story to the modern age but has no emotion to it.
First off, the positives: I cannot praise the beautiful cinematography enough. The exteriors in particular are incredible. The interior shots are usually just as gorgeous and effective except for the dialogue portions. (More on that below.)
The shot of Scrooge about to enter his home is deliciously reminiscent of a haunted house movie in keeping with the overall theme of this Carol adaptation. Another nice touch is the way this production’s Ebenezer Scrooge eats alone at a long table lined with empty chairs in the best Karl Kraus tradition.
Vincent Fegan is brilliant and riveting in the lead role. The fact that he stays true to the character while still standing out from the countless Scrooge actors before him is no small accomplishment. Unfortunately the rest of the cast falls far short of Fegan.
And that takes us into the negatives. The other actors seem to think they are playing Vulcans instead of Victorian Age Brits. Monotone whispers qualify as “ACT-ing” to these players apparently.
The actress portraying Belle is the only thespian who makes this work for her character. Through the pained, saddened expressions on her face she conveys the impression that she HAS to keep her voice low to avoid lapsing into tears.
Before continuing with the negatives I want to point out that the best of the Christmas Ghosts would be the Ghost of Christmas Past. This version capitalizes on Dickens’ description of this spirit being of indeterminate gender by having a woman portray the ghost but having a man provide the voice work.
That nice touch coupled with the bizarre camera angles in this segment made the visit from this spirit the possible high point of the production.
More negatives come in the lame depictions of Marley’s Ghost and the Ghost of Christmas Present. Thoroughly bland and unmemorable. And you have to really TRY to make the Ghost of Christmas Present portion boring.
This is the very first Christmas Carol adaptation to present viewers with a Fezziwig who apparently suffers from clinical depression. His somber, quiet celebration with the young Scrooge and Dick Wilkins strikes a jarring note. Mrs Fezziwig and the other revelers are nowhere to be seen, either.
The biggest and most frequent negative is also the oddest. The filmmakers don’t seem to understand the dialogue portions of the Dickens novel. Rather than flow smoothly with each remark cuing the next line of the other player this adaptation omits so many crucial lines of dialogue that the responses given seem like a series of non sequiturs.
This is not nit-picking. So many pivotal exchanges lack flow that I honestly suspected that this was not originally an English language production. It turns out it was, but the period dialogue from the novel seems to have confused the creative team behind this Carol.
There are also several poorly matched shots in which the words being spoken by the narrator – an actor portraying Charles Dickens – do not correspond to what we viewers are seeing on screen. During the Ghost of Christmas Present portion Scrooge’s Nephew Fred and his wife are dining alone but the narrative describes the festive, crowded party of the novel. There are several instances like this.
Looked at overall, this rendition of A Christmas Carol is strictly for true devotees of the tale or for Goths. Newcomers to the story will be confused. Casual fans will be bored or depressed.
I admire many of the risks taken with this adaptation and will watch it every year from now on, but I believe I am in a very small minority. And that is a shame. Creative endeavors like this deserve to be rewarded. +++
FOR MORE VERSIONS OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/a-christmas-carol-2/