Well, the month is halfway over, as is my Christmas Carol Challenge. I’ve watched a lot of versions of the story, and have several more queued up. But I thought it would be helpful to come up with some benchmarks for what I look for in A CHRISTMAS CAROL adaptation. All of these elements don’t need to be there (and ALL of them rarely are), but they hit some of the elements I consider most important in the story. Here they are, in no particular order.
- Tiny Tim: A couple of things. First, he has to be cute. Not sickening, but cute enough that you care he is ill. Second, in the Yet to Come scenes you need to feel moved when you realize Tim is dead. Extra points if the “this first parting” speech is included.
- Marley: Between the door knocker and his arrival, you need to be scared. The whole jaw being tied up is optional, but always a nice touch. Extra credit to the versions that show the other ghosts who are powerless to help, and their agony.
- Narrator: Is there one? Who is it? Seem to waiver between Bob and Fred (mostly Fred), but there are some other choices that are made.
- The Ghost of Christmas Present: All too often he is shown as the Santa substitute. I like it when he takes Scrooge to visit a lot of different people, so they can spread the Christmas spirit. I think it helps explain the transformation. I also think Ignorance and Want should show up.
- Belle: The Belle scenes are tricky. I like them best when Scrooge feels the loss, perhaps even more than he ever had. Some versions show her later, and a couple of them even have Scrooge and Belle reconnect. Tricky stuff–I think it is best to leave her at the “you love another now” scene.
- Old Joe: That whole “show me someone moved by this man’s death”, “show me some tenderness” and “who was that dead man” arc is tricky. I don’t love the Old Joe scenes, but I get their purpose. That said, keep them short.
- The Transformation: This is tricky stuff. The best versions don’t have Scrooge transform just because he doesn’t want to die. He needs to transform because he realizes he is running out of time to fix things. Different versions are better than others, and different actors carry the nuance better than others.
What am I missing? Anything else you miss when it isn’t included? Do you judge the way certain scenes are covered?
Tomorrow I will be back to the challenge.