A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2020)

christm 2020A 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.

sian phillipsAnd 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.

christmas presentEverything 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.

a chr carol 2020I 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/         

8 Comments

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8 responses to “A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2020)

  1. So. You liked this. Enjoying the read, this is one I just might look for. Thank you. And Merry Christmas to you!

  2. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  3. I’m so busy, just got back around to reading this review. You really put into words very well how to approach this film, it’s a unique beauty. My wife was not in the mood for the ballet style storytelling and I had to go it alone. I wasn’t really looking forward to it either since it’s not my thing, but ‘Carol’ is, so I give it a chance. So glad I did too.

    I didn’t love it at first but it continued to win me over with the gorgeous production and original way to present the story. After it was done, I contemplated it and discussed with a couple of people, as I did, I realized I liked it even more than I first thought. So when the right mood hits again, between now and next season, I look forward to sitting down with this and cup of cocoa to soak it all in again.

    How many new versions of ‘Carol’ can I get that excited for, not many, so this was a rare beauty. Definitely not for everyone but for those willing to try something new, it’s a nice change from another viewing of ‘The Nutcracker’, another favorite of mine. Maybe I should do a blog about the many many versions of that story! Nah, I’ll let you handle that.

    Merry Christmas and thanks for your contribution to my season!

    • Thank you for the detailed, thoughtful comment! I understand your feelings about the dearth of quality “new” versions of A Christmas Carol. Thank you for reading and for your recommendation this year and in previous years for Carol adaptations for me to sample! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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