and Marley at the Club?
bought the video “A Christmas Carol” starring Patrick
Stewart. It was a purchase of faith - blind but hopeful.
I remembered hearing that Stewart was, before his stint
into the galaxy and beyond, a serious, English actor
of classic stage plays you know Shakespeare and all
that. So, with a story by Dickens and an actor like
Stewart, how could I go wrong?
this new version, I kept hoping Stewart could be more
genuine. For instance, he doesn't convince me that he
is even afraid of Bob Marley when said ghost rattles
his way up to the bedroom. Stewart actually turns the
conversation casual, like he and Marley are having lunch
at the club.
Bob Cratchitt is satisfactorily scruffy and downtrodden
and Scrooge’s nephew is believable and hearty. The woman
Scrooge dumps for money is lovely and believable too
and I like the rag and bones man who buys the bed curtains
and linens. There isn’t a convincing child actor amongst
the lot from Fran as a girl through the entire sundry
Cratchitts, ending with Tiny Tim. Granted, it takes
a hell of an actor to carry off now-cliché lines like
“God bless us….well you know the one.
Two aspects of any version of The Christmas Carol that
will make it or break it for me are 1. the scariness
of the Ghost of Christmas Future, and 2. how giddy Mr.
Scrooge is after the visitations are finished. Both
criteria fall at the end of the story so I watch in
contemplation. Said ghost in the Stewart version looks
like a cross between Chewbacca and those sand guys with
the penlight eyes. Couldn’t a little money be spent
on special effects since it’s arguably the only new
thing our generation has to offer this story? I mean,
you know the script is good - just get some decent actors
and go nuts on the effects. For heaven’s sake, if they
can send a man to an asteroid, how come they can’t make
a scary ghost?!
The ‘giddiness” criteria all rests on Stewart. Now,
if you want to see perfect watch the Alastair Sim, black
and white version. Sim personifies boyish giddiness.
He is mirth. He is overwhelmed by good will. He scares
the hell out of his housekeeper because she thinks he's
gone mad. Sim dances and kicks up his heels. You cannot
help but grin to look at him. He swells your heart and
makes you remember giggling hysterically, that breathless
exercise that leaves you drained and refreshed at the
same time. He is medicine.
Stewart tries. He laughs maniacally when he first wakes
up, but soon after the movie degenerates into a series
of wrapping-it-up scenes. When the credits roll, I feel
like someone has dumped me off mid-voyage and I never
get to see the ticker-tape ending.
So, I’m still searching for a modern day Christmas Carol
with all the trimmings. Meanwhile, may we all laugh
like Scrooge does on that morning when he realizes that
all mankind is his business, and may your laugh be the
“father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs”.