Story, lessons from ‘A Christmas Carol’ never grow old
“A Christmas Carol” was originally told by Charles Dickens in a time known as the “hungry forties” where many people were just scraping by. The rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer, which is reflected in the book with characters such as Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit.
It’s stood the test of time, and there have been many renditions of it. It is set in a variety of times and places, as seen in the modern setting of “Scrooged” with Bill Murray in 1988, and another version based in New England with Henry Winkler in 1979.
However, the one that’s stuck with me through my childhood and is a must watch for not just me, but my whole immediate family, is the version with Patrick Stewart and Richard E. Grant that came out in 1999.
The movie setting is 1850, and anyone who knows me knows that I am an absolute sucker for anything with a historical setting. I love seeing all the beautiful costumes and the carriages and the candlelit houses. It’s a glimpse of a place I have never known and have only seen in history books.
I’ve seen Patrick Stewart portray many characters in my lifetime, including Captain Picard in the “Star Trek” series and Professor Charles Xavier in the “X-Men” movies. He’s quickly become one of my favorite actors. Seeing him as a cruel, unfeeling man in “A Christmas Carol” was different. It was a stark contrast to characters I’d known him for.
And, man, does he do a good job at portraying him. His acting as Ebenezer Scrooge is one of my favorite parts of the movie. The way he develops the character through the movie is interesting and believable.
The movie is hauntingly beautiful. When looking at some of the settings, you can almost feel the chilly, emptiness of Scrooge’s home or the joyous, warmth of Fred’s home as he celebrates with his friends. Of course, as the movie goes on, some of these settings change to a happier feeling.
And, last but not least, what would this movie be without the small list of songs it has? The song Fred and his friends sing near the end of the movie always gets stuck in my head. “Shy, shy, shy, shy,” the friends sing. “I’m so shy, dreadfully shy.”
Chills go straight down my spine every time the characters of the movie start singing “Silent Night,” with Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present watching.
This scene smoothly transitions to a more grim image where the two children, Ignorance and Want, appear as the Ghost of Christmas Present grows older and gaunter. When Scrooge expresses his concern, the ghost spits back the same words he said earlier in the movie.
“Are there no prisons?” the ghost said to him. “Are there no workhouses?” If the pit of my stomach hadn’t already caved in by this point, it has now, and a deep feeling of dread washes over me because, even though this story was first told hundreds of years ago, it still rings true.
The most memorable part isn’t the movie at all, but the things we’re doing while watching it.
When we were younger, we had our cousins over to bake cookies and often it would be playing in the background. Periodically, I would steal glances at the TV screen, waiting for my favorite parts to play on screen. Other times, my immediate family would be putting up the tree and we would watch it.
This movie has been a part of my life for a very long time. It tells a tale that never grows old and has lessons we all should learn from. As Tiny Tim says “God bless us, every one.”