A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2020) – Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2021 comes to a close with this review of the criminally underrated version of A Christmas Carol that was released last year. This production is easily one of the most beautiful adaptations of the Dickens classic.
The director was Jaqui Morris and the screenplay was crafted by David Morris utilizing almost nothing but Dickens’ own words from the novel. In this boldly creative non-musical presentation each character had their dancing performed by a professional dancer while their dialogue was voiced by professional thespians.
And what thespians! The voice of Andy Serkis is heard, in addition to those of Sian Phillips, who apparently will never die, and Leslie Caron, whom I thought had already died. Serkis provides the dialogue for Marley’s Ghost and Old Joe. Phillips is the narrator whose wonderful performance ties it all together and Caron provides the voice for the Ghost of Christmas Past.
A Christmas Carol is presented here as if it will be a puppet show put on by a family of entertainers but instead of actual puppets, professional dancers act out the story. In the same way that a ballet features superb dancing set to music, this dancing is set to narration and dialogue from the Dickens novel.
Such an approach may sound like a gimmick but the execution is nearly perfect. The voice actors provide the necessary emotional depth to the dialogue while the dancers perform the story via everything from ballet to break dancing. The dancers are aided by well done special effects ranging from merely reversing the film footage to more complex technical accomplishments.
Tableaus from some of Dickens’ other novels are used as fleeting backdrops for some scenes to drive home the 1800s social criticism presented by the author, while very brief excerpts of text from those novels flash on the screen at other times.
Everything is hyper-stylized in this Carol. The sets can range from magnificently rendered large scale versions of puppet show scenarios to flat painted backgrounds and nearly every other approach you can think of.
It’s virtually impossible to single out any one performer in this film. Obviously Ebenezer Scrooge, voiced by Simon Russell Beale and acted out by dancer Michael Nunn, gets most of the screen time but in my view EVERYBODY in the cast does the same high level of artwork. This is one of the few creative projects that I can praise in that way.
The filmmakers GET the Dickens story and they prove it in literally every single scene.
The fusion of artforms in this version of A Christmas Carol is not for everyone, of course. Small children will likely be bored after a few minutes, and people who don’t appreciate the lyrical beauty of Dickens’ writing will just roll their eyes at the entire production.
I would very strongly recommend this terrific Carol adaptation for nearly everyone else. If you can possibly squeeze in a viewing of this masterpiece today or tomorrow please do so.
Several sloppily worded reviews have led to confusion about this holiday movie. Some called it “a human puppet show” which makes it sound like those old Supermarionation shows from Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Others make it sound like it’s exclusively a ballet, or exclusively an audio adaptation.
In truth this 2020 Christmas Carol blends multiple approaches into one very moving and very satisfying work.
Well, that wraps up another Christmas Carol-A-Thon! Be here the Friday after Thanksgiving when the 2022 edition begins.
FOR MORE VERSIONS OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/a-christmas-carol-2/