The Movie Waffler Variations on a Christmas Classic: Top 5 <i>A Christmas Carol</i> adaptations | The Movie Waffler

Variations on a Christmas Classic: Top 5 A Christmas Carol adaptations

Charles Dickens wrote his novella A Christmas Carol during the early part of the Victorian era in Britain, helping to rejuvenate interest in older Christmas traditions in the England of the time and remaining a cornerstone of Christmas tradition in both Britain and America to this day. There have been many adaptations of this story on stage and in film over the year, with the following films representing some of the best of those adaptations on this Christmas classic.

While based on the original story told in the novella, this 1988 classic stars Bill Murray as the thoroughly modern Scrooge-type character of Frank Cross, a television executive obsessed with ratings above all else. After forcing his staff to either work through Christmas Eve or become unemployed, the story loosely follows the Dickens model in that Cross is visited by his dead predecessor at the network, Marley-style, then by the three requisite ghosts. With some twists and departures from the source material, Scrooged nonetheless provides us with a valid contemporary take on classic Dickens.

Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol
The only true cartoon on the list, this is nonetheless considered a true Christmas classic that once appeared as traditional fare every year during the holidays during the show’s popular run in the '60s. Set as a play within a television show, this musical version portrays the existing character of Mr. Magoo as he plays Scrooge in a stage production of Dickens’ classic. Although not strictly accurate to the source material, it is nonetheless entertaining for adults and children alike.

A Christmas Carol (2009)
While the plot of this one aligns much more closely to the source material than Scrooged did, it is nonetheless transformed using thoroughly modern technology. Jim Carrey stars in several roles throughout the film, which is nonetheless done completely through computer animated motion capture. As such, there is a bit more of the fantastical than the original book depicted, which is unsurprising when you consider the fact that the production budget was rumored to be around $200 million (and the supporting cast is nothing to bat an eye at either). It’s worth your time to catch it if your TV offers on demand, if only for the dazzling CG effects.

A Muppet Christmas Carol
Another musical version on the list, this one manages to stay fairly accurate to the source material while including that unique flair that only the Muppets can bring. Michael Caine as Scrooge is one of the very few humans in the movie, with all other principal roles taken by Muppets, including a narrator in the guise of Dickens himself played by the Great Gonzo. This fun and family-friendly musical version has earned its rightful place on this list and in the hearts of its viewers.

A Christmas Carol (1951)
Of all the versions made over the years, whether true to the source material or not, this one is often reviewed as the best of them. Alastair Sim is considered superb as Scrooge and is generally considered one of the main reasons that this film is sometimes considered not only the best of the many A Christmas Carol films, but one of the best Christmas movies overall. As such, it’s definitely worth a view.

No list of Christmas movies would be complete without mention of at least some of the many versions of A Christmas Carol that have been made over the years. From the live action versions to all the various ways of creating animated versions of one type of another, Dickens’ classic has endured like no other.

Spencer Blohm