Looking back at the origins, over the course of its whole history A Christmas Carol has been produced no less than 50 times: since 1901 (Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost, Walter Booth) where the silent film era provided the screen debut, to the second to last time, when we became familiar with the personal Charles Dickens story in `The man who invented Christmas` movie by Bharat Nalluri, in 2017. So, it would be a mistake to note the current version as the last, as we don`t know who else might take a fresh look at it.
Just as Steve Knight has done. But about that later.
`I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future`, Ebenezer Scrooge.
As for the history of Ebenezer Scrooge (Guy Pearce), what do you remember? An evil man who never loved anyone, while legends about his greediness and insensitivity spread throughout the city. Scrooge has been collecting money all his life, rather than helping people and responding to their requests. Once upon a time, the ghost of ex-partner Marley (Stephen Graham) appears to him – as the story begins. Scrooge loses his usual `harmony’ and sorrow and regrets that he has changed his cynical nature. Marley prays to the Goodness to help his friend, and three Ghosts (Christmas Past (Andy Serkis), Present/ Lottie – Charlotte Riley (Peaky Blinders, King Charles III, by the way, Tom Hardy and Charlotte became involved in the same project again, as we know they already have two children in common . . . hmm . . . what`s next?) and Jason Fleming (The Last Kingdom, Black Mirror) as Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come) is sent to help him be transformed into a new Ebenezer: a sincere, kind, and grateful man. Is it not a fact, as the Ghost of Christmas predicts, he will die in one year. Although darkness and helplessness have absorbed the story, finally, the action turns to the bright and loving side of his life.
The Ghosts, remorse, regret and compassion, like an `old-school` scenic backdrop for all Carol`s screen adaptations, otherwise, the plot couldn`t be called `Dickensian`.
Turning to Steve`s Knight version, perhaps we are familiar with his witty talent from the first season of Peaky Blinders, with all the honors and what success usually leaves behind – a stable listing in the Best Series to Watch, with a progressive increase in the fan base over the five seasons.
In his interview, Steve said that the new Christmas Carol would be absolutely different, in order to show the depth of perspectives in Scrooge’s personal history and called it a `forensic analysis`. Moreover, it is going to be a deep lookinto the character and soul, a `refreshingly dark` story about Scrooge. An original drama with a variety of events shows the story from one act to another one, sequentially, but without telling about the background of the characters’ behavior. That`s what Steve is willing to show. In other words, we discover loneliness, suffering, pain, and even love.
A Christmas Carol VS The Muppet Christmas Carol
As I mentioned above, Charles Dickens’s scenario is a lifetime thing, so the latest could be easily replaced by any of the adaptations you know. In fact, the screen puppet version (director – Brian Hanson, 1992) is still beloved after 27 years; and in the upcoming Christmas season, the huge generation of yesterday’s babies will probably be seated in front of the TV with their own kids.
The Muppet Christmas Carol, in which Michael Caine (Inception, The Man Who Would Be King, Mona Lisa – the highest rated films from his genius list) took the Ebenezer Scrooge role. Pigs, frogs, rats and rabbits were singing and joking about the life experience of rebirth from the former miser to the good-natured one.
By the way, this family-friendly, cozy movie holds the third place in the Christmas films ratings, according to national surveys done in Britain last year, as GQ reports.
So, could BBC compete with the stable pattern of the Christmas Carol icon and break it with another Scrooge? Finally, 3-D modelling, graphics, sound, makeup and costumes create a whole new set of equations to answer the question: Is it really only Scrooge who is left of Charles Dickens’s story?
Photo: Official trailer BBC One