Wednesday, December 09, 2009

(Disney's) A Christmas Carol

Last night I saw A Christmas Carol, directed by Robert Zemeckis.

To adapt one of the most well-known stories in literature can't be an easy task, but I admire anyone who strives for it, including Zemeckis.

His animated approach (using technology similar to his previous hit The Polar Express) is ambitious and intricate. When you're taken into Scrooge's neighborhood in the first few frames of the film, you're undoubtedly stepping into Dickens' England. Not only do the buildings and streets appear real, the faces of the characters are much closer to actual human likenesses than any other animated film to date. Even the cleavage on the dancing women is convincing. Yes, I said cleavage.

And that brings me to my next point: this is not a movie for young children. Because the dialog stays very faithful to the original text (and that's a good thing), many of the scenes are dark and frightening. The spirits (except for maybe the Ghost of Christmas Present, who is somewhat goofy) will seem creepy even to adults. The Grim Reaper-like essence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come elevates the evil to a definite PG level.

The voices are also startling--though Jim Carrey provides the pipes for Scrooge AND all three spirits. The action scenes (mostly Scrooge being transported from place to place) are also extremely loud, and if you see it in IMAX as I did, you may want to pack some earplugs.

So how does this version measure up to previous versions? Well, nothing can beat the classic live action version in 1951 starring Alastair Sim or the more popular George C. Scott interpretation from 1984. But as far as making the original images from the book illustrations and the story come to life, this is as good as it gets.

The timeless lesson is as relevant today as when Dickens' wrote it in 1843. At the core of the film is a delightful old story about a man who has to battle his inner-demons to realize what life should be all about. One can only contemplate what our world would be like if everyone were held to such an extreme manner of self-evaluation.

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