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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Christmas just isn't Christmas unless you watch at least one version of A Christmas Carol, and this is by far my favorite. George C. Scott gives one of the greatest performances I have ever seen an actor give; he truly becomes Ebenezer Scrooge to the fullest degree possible. Scott can say more with just the slightest hint of a facial movement than many actors can say during the course of an entire movie. All of the performers here are excellent, bringing to life adored characters such as Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and Scrooge's nephew Fred. All four spirits are remarkable, none more so than Scrooge's old partner Jacob Marley; having Marley's jaw drop after untying the burial cloth holding his mouth closed is an important aspect of the story and certainly does make an impression on the viewer. This is just one example of the moviemakers' faithfulness to Charles Dickens' original story; another would be the inclusion of the two miserable children, Ignorance and Want, beneath the robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present.
This timeless tale works extremely well on its own, but the unsurpassed acting skills of Scott make it almost more than real. The change wrought in him during the course of the night, as he changes from a man of crass materialism and unkindness to a repentant soul pleading for a chance to change his ways, is powerfully presented and really touches the viewer emotionally. The simple happiness revealed in the lives of Bob Cratchit and others are as heart-warming as the forgotten mistakes and pains of a younger Scrooge are agonizing. If there is any heart out there that is not touched by the goodness and courage of Tiny Tim, I don't even want to know about it. No matter how many times you watch this movie, it proves itself capable of bringing a tear to your eye, a lump in your throat, and ultimately the very spirit of true holiday cheer and Christian charity that Dickens intended it to convey.
I cannot say I have seen every adaptation of A Christmas Carol, but I really cannot believe any other version could exceed the quality and emotional impact of this one. No matter how many times I read the story or watch the movie, it remains a source of eternal joy to me. This is more than a movie for me; it is an important and necessary part of each and every Christmas holiday season.
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on 15 November 2001
For anyone, like me, sick to death of the various americanised remakes - from the muppets to scrooged - this one will come as a breath of fresh air.
A genuinely moving retelling of the original story which also manages to remain thoroughly festive from start to finish.
The magic of this film owes much to the superb performances of not only George C Scott in the lead role, but also that of the excellent supporting British cast (Incidentally, George manages an admirable job of shaking his American accent).
This remains my all time favourite version of this classic christmas tale. If you only ever own one version of A Christmas Carol, make it this one.
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"These are garments, Mr. Cratchit. Garments were invented by the human race as a protection against the cold. Once purchased, they may be used indefinitely for the purpose for which they are intended. Coal burns. Coal is momentary and coal is costly. There will be no more coal burned in this office today, is that quite clear, Mr. Cratchit?"

Common wisdom has it that Alastair Sim is the greatest screen Scrooge, yet much as I hove Sim's work it's hard to shake the feeling that those who say it have never seen the 1984 television version of A Christmas Carol that garnered George C. Scott a particularly well-earned Emmy nomination (he didn't win, but since he wouldn't have turned up anyway that's probably no great surprise). Scott is absolutely remarkable in the role, actually making what is too often a stereotyped and blustering role into a truly credible human being. It's not just the best Scrooge, it's also Scott's best performance, at once both intelligently thought out and played with real emotion.

Scott certainly wasn't adverse to the taste of scenery in his louder performances, but he resists the temptation to ham it up with a surprisingly sensitively underplayed performance that doesn't go for the usual notes to play but finds his own much more convincing ones in the part. He's a monetarist who genuinely enjoys making money and just as genuinely can't understand the mindset that despises both poverty and the acquisition of wealth: it's a concept that's simply beyond him. He's not a joke or a parody but a damaged and misguided man who has to be guided back to the company of his fellow man, and you actually care about him enough to root for him to do so along the way.

Scott is the main reason to see this version, but not the only one. Ably directed by Clive Donner, who edited the Alastair Sim version, Roger O. Hirson's screenplay emphasises character over special effects, which are fairly simple but for the most part effective, only running into difficulties in the more awkward to stage moments from the novel like blanking out the Ghost of Christmas Past with her funnel cap. Much of the film is staged fairly conservatively until the appearance of The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, at once the most stylised section, and also the most touching, but it's a particularly handsome production that makes excellent use of its locations in Shrewsbury - a particularly appropriate location, since Dickens gave his first of many public readings of the book there. There's a fine supporting cast too - Edward Woodward as the Ghost of Christmas Present, David Warner and Susannah York as the Cratchits, Frank Finlay going a bit OTT as Marley's Ghost as well as familiar faces like Joanne Whalley, Nigel Davenport, Roger Rees, Liz Smith, Derek Francis and Michael Gough in smaller roles along the way. Nick Bicat's score does overdo Mickey Mousing the drama in a couple of places, but for the most part it avoids overegging it too much. Nothing in the film quite comes close to Scott's extraordinary lead performance, but for the most part cast and crew support him admirably.

Long available on a budget DVD release, although there's some detail lost in the darker shadows of the offices of Scrooge and Marley, Fox's Bluray is a big improvement on their previous DVD release, with a lot more detail in the faces that carry much of the film. Although this was released as a feature film internationally, the extras-free disc preserves the original 1.33:1 fullframe ratio. Highly recommended.
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on 16 February 2005
This is one of the finest productions of this Charles Dickens classic story about the miserable Ebenezer Scrooge being shown the error of his ways. He is visited first by the ghost of his old partner Jacob Marley who warns the old man that his immortal soul will wander the earth for eternity if he doesn't mend his miserly manner. He is also warned he will be visited by three ghosts, Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas future who will try and help him avoid an eternity of wandering bound in chains. Initially Scrooge is sure the spectres are caused by "a piece of bad beef" but as the story progresses he is forced to face the reality of his life and to realise that he has a duty to his fellow man.
George C Scott is outstanding as the miserly, miserable Scrooge. Other well known faces appear such as Edward Woodward, Frank Finlay, Susannah York and Angela Pleasance. This is a film that warms the heart and never becomes dated. Essential viewing during the festive season.
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on 4 February 2009
Bought this because my video-tape copy just got worn out. Watch it in the week before Christmas, and if nothing else it should make you ponder on the merits of commercialism (especially at Christmas), reflect on benevolence, and get you in the Christmas spirit - if you'll pardon the pun! George C Scott is excellent, but so's most of the cast. I was initially unimpressed by some of the script - e.g. Scrooge asking the visiting ghost of Marley (like he was some expected mortal visitor) whether he can sit down, and when the ghost says he can, Scrooge, pointing to a vacant chair then says 'well do it then'!...just the kind of conversation one would have when confronted by a ghost (never mind the pointlessness of even a chain-burdened ghost sitting down!). - But then I read the book, and, with my apologies to the script-writers, found this very passage of dialogue in it! (Could this be where the expression 'what the Dickens are you talking about?' originates??!!) Notwithstanding all that, a great film and a great book. I'd also recommend the Muppets version too - Micheal Caine's Scrooge I thought was even better than GCS's albeit in a very different context.
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on 19 November 2001
Brilliant! Christmas in my household just wouldn't be the same without watching this every year. This is best and most faithful version ever of the story. George C Scott is spot on with his performance and the film captures the very essence of the original book. I'm thrilled this is available now on DVD. Five out of five.
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on 20 November 2009
This is a superb adaptation. It is 'A Christmas Carol' as it should be - not some modernized version. The fine cast perform admirably - especially the leading man. When I discovered that George C Scott was an American, I was amazed! In this film, his English accent is perfect, and he is arguably one of the finest Scrooges ever depicted on screen.

This is definately one for the dvd shelf.

Best bit: Scrooge: (to Ghost Of Christmas Future) "you're devilish hard to have a conversation with!"

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George C. Scott makes an outstanding Scrooge in this 1984 TV production of the Christmas classic. The story is once again told of a miser, miserable and alone. He shuns Christmas and helping others, only doing things that will increase his personal wealth. But then one fateful Christmas Eve, he's visited by four spirits who try to show him another way. Will it be enough to redeem him?
I love this story, usually enjoying it in a couple forms over the course of December. This particular film version is my favorite. Probably helps that I've watched it almost every year since it came out. The acting is superb, especially from Scott. The costumes, scenery, and effects are wonderful as well, and they stick very close to the original story. Just watching a few minutes, I get... in and want to watch the whole thing all over again.
This DVD is the perfect way to watch the film. The picture and sound are remarkably clear for an almost 20 year old made for TV film. Definitely better then my old recorded from TV tape. The film is presented in its original ratio - full frame. While it would have been nice to have an extra or two, the quality of the movie makes up for this absence in my opinion.
If you're looking for a film version of this classic story for the holidays, look no further. This movie is sure to become a tradition in your family.
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on 12 October 2000
So many different takes on Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' have been made, but I think you'll find this one deserves to be at the top of the tree, if you'll excuse the seasonal pun! Clive Donner's superb version remains true to the literary classic, with a great cast turning in top-notch performances.
The sadly-missed George C. Scott stars as the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge, so convincing the role was made for him! Derisory put-downs and sarcastic quips have seldom been delivered with such venom. Scott lends so cruel a streak to his character, that the transformation to good guy at the end of the film is still doubted!
A bevvy of Britain's finest character actors turn up in supporting roles - David Warner as the simple but good-hearted Bob Cratchit, Edward Woodward as the colossal Ghost of Christmas Present, and Frank Finlay as an almost comedic but very dead Jacob Marley.
The film was shot on location in Shrewsbury, and the transformation into grubby 19th Century London betters any studio effects. Every effort is made to transport us back among the carol singers and street urchins of the time.
I know people still claim that Alistair Sim's 1951 effort 'Scrooge' is the best take on this classic, but for my money, this is the definitive holiday movie.
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on 16 January 2011
I think this is the best version of A Christmas Carol. I was delighted to obtain it from Amazon as I lost the video I previously owned which was a tradition to watch on Christmas Eve. Great price and free delivery too!
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