Enjoyable, though it lacks the passion that I expected,
both from an adaptation of Dickens' novel, and based on Stewart's one-man
stage production. The sets were good, and many effects were, as well.
But the acting was sub-par for the most part, and what happened to the
Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come?
Most of the movie was quite different in design and atmosphere
from other adaptations. The people were depicted as nineteenth century
London low class, and very poor, which was excellent. But it also
seemed to mean lower quality acting by most characters. The two exceptions
were the ladies trying to pawn off Scrooge's bedsheets and bedcurtains.
That whole scene was exceptional.
Unfortunately, I never quite got into Stewart as Scrooge.
Something seemed just wrong about it. It could be his depiction of
the man. Instead of a mean person, Scrooge is seen here to be a lonely
recluse who wants to be left alone, and doesn't realise that he desperately
needs company. He is insecure, in his own way, and he projects his
insecurity as bitterness out on others.
The beauty of this, however, is that we can see the turnaround
in the character very easily. Stewart projects the regret of
past decisions into Scrooge's face so well that we actually felt for him.
In that way, his visions of the past started him on a very visible path
of redemption. The turning point in his attitude is obvious.
For he shows simple recognition of his childhood, and we can see that although
he was a loner back then, he actually had friends. At the party,
he starts tapping his toes in time to the music, and he laughs as if he
was actually participating at Fezziwig's ball. And when he sees his
fiancÚ, he is struck by such heavy emotions. The past was definitely
the high point of the movie.
Christmas present was a little lackluster. I thoroughly
enjoyed the gathering at Fred's, but Bob Cratchit's house left me quite
cold. I did not feel for Tiny Tim the way I normally do. The
scenes within the jail, lighthouse and ship on the sea were haunting, and
very well done. I liked the connected singing very much, though I
wondered what exactly it had to do with Scrooge. It seemed very disconnected.
I understand that these scenes come directly from the novel, and this is
the first adaptation to include them. Upon thinking about it, I figured
out that it must have to do with Scrooge's self-isolation. The spirit
is showing him that even people who are away from their loved ones, and
people who are poor, or who have no other hope in life (in the jail), still
celebrate Christmas with all their hearts. Even if it's only for
one night, they all have hope.
Christmas future was terribly done, except for the pawn shop.
The stock exchange (did that actually exist back then?) scene was very
standard, so that nothing stood out. But the bedroom scene and the
graveyard scenes were really bad. And Stewart's fall into the grave
was extremely poorly executed.
I found the opening scenes, in Scrooge's offices, to be off-putting,
whether because of directing or acting, I can't be sure. Maybe it
just took too long to get into this character of Scrooge. I also
did not enjoy it when Scrooge woke up, and his laugh "caught in his throat",
nor the turkey scene. Man, that's one ugly turkey!
My favourite scene of all, when Scrooge pretends he's going to
fire Cratchit, then gives him a raise, was completely ruined, also.
As for the acting, I was not impressed with any of the ghosts.
Past looked creepy, where for some reason I was expecting warm. Present
had absolutely no emotion, and many of the speeches felt very flat.
Future was just poorly done, period, so that it was laughable instead of
creepy. I did not particularly enjoy Cratchit, but I loved Fred.
He was actually the only character who had any emotion. Stewart was
hit and miss with Scrooge. He was stern and emotional when he had
to be, but often seemed simply grouchy! I did quite enjoy, however,
the scene where he begs Fred's forgiveness and asks to join the dinner.
Not the best rendition of the scene, but still very good. Jacob Marley
was creepy, as he should be, and the part where Scrooge has to help him
close his mouth was quite unsettling.
Many of the special effects were really well done. Seeing
Scrooge and the Ghosts step through walls was spectacular. The tornado
that carried them from the lighthouse to the ship at sea was also nice.
And most of the transitions were professionally done.
So I would say this is not the best rendition of the movie ever.
There have definitely been better ones, but it has a higher calibre than
some of the versions out there, definitely.