Disney's A Christmas Carol, is a 2009 animated 3-D movie adaptation of the Charles Dickens story of the same title. The movie was released by Walt Disney Pictures on November 6, 2009. It received its world premiere in London Leicester Square, which had a Dickensian theme.
The movie begins with the book “A Christmas Carol” opening and the words, “Marley is dead.” appearing. The scene then shows the deceased Jacob Marley in his coffin with two pence coins covering his eyes at the funeral parlor. He apparently has died the night before on Christmas Eve. The undertaker (funeral director) hands a pen to an elderly, outstretched hand of Ebenezer Scrooge, who uses it to sign his name on the death certificate as being a witness. The undertaker then holds his hand out for a tip. Scrooge looks at him menacingly and then very reluctantly takes out a penny and drops it in his hand. However, the undertaker still keeps his hand out expecting more. Scrooge, even more reluctantly takes out a second penny and very slowly and almost unwillingly drops it in the undertaker’s hand. As he turns to leave, he takes the tuppence covering Marley’s eyes, rubs them off and pockets them.
The film then cuts to Christmas Eve seven years later as the camera zooms all around the town in 3D as everyone is cheerful in the streets. Kids are spinning wheels on sticks, townspeople are buying all sorts of Christmas foods, a butcher working in a basement for a party throws a chunk of beef at some poor kids begging for food, only to have a dog grab it and have the kids chase it, some other kids holding on to the bumper & riding on the back of street cars and carolers in the street singing. However, one lone man walking to work is in no mood for this – Scrooge. Dogs cower away from him, kids start running away upon seeing him and even the carolers stop singing as he passes by them.
Scrooge then goes to his place of business where he works as a money collector. Bob Cratchit, is working there, shivering from the cold in the building as he only has a dying coal ember to keep him warm, with the rest of the coal locked up, with the keys on Scrooge’s desk. Shortly, in walks Scrooge’s nephew Fred, all cheerful & full of Christmas spirit. He offers to invite Scrooge to his home for Christmas but Ebenezer quickly declines, telling Fred he’s a fool for wasting his time & money on the holiday, and lambasting him that he could be rich if he focused more on money and less on his friends & wife. When Scrooge asks Fred why he got married, Fred replied that he was in love. Scrooge hastily dismisses him with repeated “Good afternoons."
Soon after, two kindly gentlemen come into Scrooge’s place of work collecting for the poor. When they ask Ebenezer what he would like to contribute, Scrooge replies, “Nothing”. Mistakenly thinking he wanted to donate anonymously, they ask him again, but Scrooge says he won’t give money to anyone poor, especially since some of the donations were going to prisoners and mentally insane people too for the holidays. When the two men ask him to think again of the poor, Scrooge angrily says that they should all die to decrease the surplus population on the planet. Saddened by Ebenezer’s reply, the two gentlemen leave.
Near closing time, Cratchit asks Scrooge for Christmas Day off tomorrow. Scrooge very reluctantly gives him the time but tells him to come in extra early the following day to make up for the time off. They both then leave & go their separate ways, Ebenezer walking hunched over with his cane and Cratchit happily sliding down an icy hill with some local kids.
Ebenezer arrives at his cold, lofty house. He looks at the door knocker and goes to open the door but drops his keys. He bends over to get them, and as he stands back up, the door knocker has been replaced with the glowing head of Jacob Marley’s ghost. Stunned, Scrooge slowly reaches toward it and just as his hand nears it, the face pops up distorted and snarls at him. Ebenezer falls backwards down his front stoop in fright. As he gets up, he looks at the door again but only sees the original door knocker. Convincing himself it was just a hallucination, he goes into his house.
Scrooge is then seen in his nightcap & pajamas, eating some gruel (a thin oatmeal porridge) in a bowl by his fireplace in his master bedroom. Just as he’s about to go to bed, he hears some loud noises, getting louder by the moment. The chimes to his doorbell start ringing, louder & louder until Scrooge has to cover his ears at the sound of them. He then hears something walking up the stairs to his room, with very loud thuds – then as they reach the shut door to his room, silence. Then suddenly half a dozen huge ghostly lit cement blocks wrapped heavily in chains burst through the room at Scrooge. As they all land around Ebenezer, we then see they are attached to the ghost of Jacob Marley, as he floats into the room. Marley explains that he’s being punished for all his past indiscretions and bad deeds in life. Scrooge wonders why since he was such a good man of business like himself. Marley explains that while he was a good businessman, he was a horrible human being, and that the more chains on a ghost mean more punishment. He then warns Scrooge that if he keeps on his current path, Ebenezer’s chains will be even worse than Marley’s. Jacob tells Scrooge that he’ll be visited by three spirits, all throughout the night. Scrooge humorously asks him if all three can visit him at the same time to get it over with but Marley yells at him for that. Jacob says the first ghost will visit him soon as he rises up to leave. As Marley leaves through the window, Scrooge sees many other spirits floating outside doomed to an eternity of chains & cement blocks. One other ghost outside sees Scrooge looking at him & flies up towards him, but slams into the window as the screen goes black.
The next scene is pitch black until a small flickering light appears and gets brighter and brighter. It wakes up Scrooge and forms into a ghost, but looking very much like a lit candle wick. It announces itself as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and tells Ebenezer that it will take him to his memories of the past. It touches Scrooge with some pixie dust ala Peter Pan, to give him the ability to fly with it and they take off through the town. Just like at the beginning of the movie, we see the flying POV whizzing around town until we arrive at another part of the country where Scrooge remembers being raised & bred. The ghost takes him to a schoolhouse where we see a lone Ebenezer sadly staring out a window. It seems his father, who was equally cold as Scrooge is now, left him there for his education but never came to get him each year. The schoolhouse morphs into an older, more dilapidated version years later where Scrooge is still all alone by himself, as he has been year after year until one day his sister arrives joyously & tells him that their father “overnight” had a change of heart and, filled with Christmas Spirit, has sent a wagon to bring Scrooge back to his family for the holidays. The spirit tells Scrooge that she later bore a son, who turned out to be Scrooge’s nephew Fred.
We next see Scrooge as a young apprentice to a Mr. Fezziwig on Christmas Eve. When his work shift is over, Fezziwig, joyously flips off his desk and starts dancing around, ordering his workplace be turned into a banquet hall for Christmas. The tables & chairs gets pushed back to create tons of room for dancing and sure enough, the scene morphs into a festive Christmas celebration with food, dancing and singing. Fezziwig & his wife dance, followed by each young boy & girl. When it’s Scrooge’s turn, he meets a young lady named Belle & is instantly smitten.
We cut to years later where Scrooge is now very rich but has gotten colder. His fiancée Belle asks for her release from him to break off the engagement, saying that he’s changed and cares more about money than about love. She tries to remind him how happier they were when they were poorer but in love. However, she says he’s found a new idol to cherish – his money. Scrooge acts defensive and derisive towards her, saying that he’s worked hard to get where he is and refuses to give up what he’s doing. Seeing that Ebenezer will not give up his love of money over her, Belle sadly walks out of his life.
At this point, the elder version of Scrooge wants no more of these sad memories & tries to extinguish the Ghost of Christmas Past by covering it with the extinguisher cap that it carries. Initially it seems to work; however, the cap then takes off like a rocket, flying it and Scrooge up almost towards to moon. The flame then fizzles out & Scrooge hurtles down to earth, crashing down loudly as he closes his eyes. However, when he opens them, he finds he’s back in his own bedroom.
Scrooge then sees a glowing light behind his bedroom door. He slowly approaches & opens it. Upon entering, he sees the room filled to the top with food and drink. Sitting atop of it all is the Ghost of Christmas Present, (Jim Carrey), who appears to Scrooge as a laughing Giant with dark brown curly hair, robe-clad with an empty scabbard hanging on his side. He says he is one of over 1,800 brothers (one brother for every Christmas since the very first one, with him as the latest). The Ghost takes his torch and spreads the embers on the floor, making it transparent, the floor of the house then rises & flies all around the city, showing all the happiness and warmth spread by the townspeople during Christmas.
The house then lands on the property of Scrooge’s nephew Fred. While not as rich as Scrooge, he does seem to be pretty well off. Fred and his friends and family are playing a game of “Yes and No” where he thinks of something & they have to guess what it is with him only giving “yes” or “no” answers. This prompts someone to stand up & shout, “I know! I know! It’s your uncle Scrooge!” Fred says “Yes!”, and everyone laughs at Scrooge’s expense. Fred then raises a toast to his uncle, but has to convince everyone else to raise their glasses to him as well.
The Ghost then takes Scrooge to the poor, run down home of Bob Cratchit. He & Tiny Tim have not arrived home yet but his wife & other children are cooking and waiting for hem to arrive. They both then walk in with Tim on Bob’s shoulders, both happy and joyful. Despite being poor, they are happy being together as a family. As Tim goes to check the pudding, bob & his wife talk about Tiny Tim. He has an illness that requires him to walk with a crutch. Bob pretends to tell his wife that Tim is getting better each day but his face & mannerisms tell a different story as he starts getting sad. Scrooge asks the Spirit about Tim and if he will live. The Ghost first states that if everything remains unaltered by the Future, yes, he will die". Then using Scrooge’s own words against him, his face morphs into Scrooge’s own and suggests he "had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.".
The Ghost says his time on earth is almost done. Scrooge then sees a clawed hand underneath the Ghost’s robe & asks who or what that is. The Ghost lifts up part of his robe to reveal a scrawny & demonic boy & girl. The boy is called Ignorance and the girl is called Want. The Ghost warns scrooge to beware of them both. Then, Ignorance leaps at Scrooge and turns into an adult prison convict, while Want leaps up & turns into a mental patient in a straightjacket, and both torment him with his own words, "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?". The Ghost laughs as he rapidly ages, then turns into a skeleton and then to dust, leaving Scrooge all alone in the room.
Scrooge looks down at his own shadow – which slowly starts turning into the form of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The Spirit hovers above him, then with bony, clawed outstretched hands, lunges toward him, sending him down some stairs. Scrooge looks up to find a group of businessmen at the Exchange laughing and joking about the recent death of a colleague that happened on Christmas. They mention that it will be a cheap funeral & they would only go if lunch was provided. Feeling small, and getting smaller, Scrooge is then chased by the Ghost who is driving a chariot led by large black horses with blood red eyes. Ebenezer tries running away but the streets start getting narrower. After several close calls running away, Scrooge eventually arrives at an underworld rag and junk shop where he finds his charwoman (cleaning lady) Mrs. Dilber with the shopkeeper, whom she calls Old Joe. Apparently, Mrs. Dilber been stealing items from a client's house after his death and is trying to sell them to Old Joe. She holds up a large gold & red cloth and laughingly comments that someone was “fool enough” to cover the body with it, implying she stole it off the corpse. Miniature Scrooge, noticing the stolen goods as his, yells at the lady, “You’re fired!”. Old Joe then suddenly starts lifting up a fire poker and looking at Scrooge. It seems like he’s about to hit Ebenezer, but it turns out he is actually looking at a rat behind the shrunken miser and tries to hit it. Both Scrooge & the rat run away for safety, with Scrooge escaping down a drainpipe. Ebenezer rests for a second alone & in the dark.
Suddenly, the Ghost’s carriage & horses crash through a wall and start chasing Scrooge again. He captures Scrooge with his clawed outstretched hand and shows him a corpse covered by a simple shroud. The Ghost starts to lift the shroud, (we only see the very top of the corpse’s head), and Scrooge begs the Ghost to not show him anymore, scared of what he might see, which the Ghost surprisingly relents. Ebenezer then asks if there are any moments of happiness or tenderness connected with this person’s death. The ghost then shows him a husband coming home to his wife looking sad, but then showing it was all an act. It seems they owed some debt to this person but now that he died; they’re no longer obligated, which ironically shows the moment of “happiness” Scrooge wanted to see. The Ghost then whisks scrooge to the house of Bob Cratchit again. Only this time, the entire family is sitting down, deeply saddened. Bob soon walks through the door, almost lifeless and dejected. His family tries to cheer him up but to no avail. They’re all mourning the passing of Tiny Tim. Scrooge, sitting on the stairway watching this, starts getting upset. Then Bob walks up the same stairway & seems to stop & look directly at Scrooge. Cratchit’s eyes are almost completely red from all the tears he’s shed and looks absolutely miserable. He walks past Ebenezer up to Tiny Tim’s room where we see the shadow of Tim’s body, lying on a bed. Bob kneels beside the casket/bed & starts sobbing uncontrollably.
Lastly, Scrooge is then blown by the Spirit into a graveyard, where he winds up next to an unkempt grave covered in snow. The Spirit starts to brush away some of the snow, revealing Ebenezer’s name. Scrooge pleads with the Spirit, telling him he’ll change his ways. Undeterred, the Spirit then brushes off some more snow, revealing scrooge’s birth date, then death date of Dec. 25, stopping right before the year. Scrooge pleads even more that he’s seen the error of his ways & will repent and change. However, Scrooge starts to fall into the grave, hanging on by only a clump of grass & dirt. Scrooge asks if these events are set in stone or could they be changed. The Spirit just points to the grave. As Ebenezer begs & pleads even more, what he clings onto becomes the Spirit’s clawed hand. The Spirit then lifts its cowl to reveal 2 “shiny coal” eyes and lets go of Scrooge making him fall into the casket down below, glowing red. As soon as Scrooge falls completely in, he opens his eyes…and sees he’s back in his own bedroom.
Realizing that he’s still alive, Ebenezer jumps for joy, elated that he’s been given another chance. He opens up his window & sees a young boy pulling a sled. He asks the boy what day it is. When the boy replies Christmas, Scrooge tells the lad to go & get the biggest goose at the butcher shop & bring it to him, offering him a full schilling if he does it fast enough. Scrooge then sees Mrs. Dilber his cleaning lady and starts dancing with her. Shocked & understandably frightened, she tries running away, only to have Scrooge slide down the stairwell & catch up to her, telling her she’s the prettiest thing he’s ever seen. She nevertheless runs away claiming he’s gone mad. Scrooge then sees the butcher with the goose & pays for it, as well as giving the kid his promised tip. Ebenezer then merrily runs about town, clinging to the bumper of the cars down the street like the kids did. He then encounters the gentlemen who asked him for donations earlier the previous night and whispers an amount he’ll donate that absolutely stuns them. He then approaches the same carolers at the beginning of the movie as well. At first, he says nothing, but then jumps along side of them & sings the last part of the song! Then he gives them a generous tip in their cup. Lastly that day, he arrives at the door of his nephew Fred. He’s playing that same “Yes or No” game that Scrooge saw with the Ghost of Christmas Present. However, just as the girl was about to say “I Know! I Know! It’s your uncle Scrooge!”, Ebenezer walks in. Looking very repentant, he asks his nephew if he can join them for Christmas. Nobody says a word a first & for a few seconds it’s very quiet. Then, suddenly, his nephew & friends all welcome him with open arms as they all enjoy a nice Christmas.
The next day, Scrooge is already at work, gleefully laughing at what he’s about to give Bob & his family, when Cratchit arrives 16 minutes late. Ebenezer, (keeping up the guise of his old, miserly self), orders Bob into his office. He tells Bob as a result of his being late; he has no choice but to…give him a substantial raise. Bob, eyes shut expecting the worst, suddenly opens them. Scrooge then says he’ll take care of him & his family & especially provide for Tiny Tim & they’ll never have to worry about anything again! He gives Bob some money for coal to keep his work spot warm & sends him on his way. Bob leaves but peers back into the window to see Scrooge laughing & dancing around. He then turns to the audience & finishes narrating the story. Bob said that Tiny Tim got better & Scrooge became like a second father to him. Scrooge indeed repented and lived up to his word as being nicer and more generous, even more than anyone imagined. The film ends with Tiny Tim on Scrooge’s shoulders shouting, “God bless us everyone!”, as the scene turns into the last page of the book as it closes.
|Jim Carrey|| Ebenezer Scrooge|
Ghost of Christmas Past
Ghost of Christmas Present
Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come
|Gary Oldman|| Jacob Marley|
|Cary Elwes|| Portly Gentleman|
|Bob Hoskins|| Mr. Fezziwig|
|Robin Wright Penn|
|1||A Christmas Carol Main Title||4:21||The opening credits|
|2||Scrooge Counts Money||0:48||When Scrooge counts money in his office.|
|3||Marley's Ghost Visits Scrooge||6:13||When Jacob Marley warns Scrooge about his ghostly visits.|
|4||The Ghost of Christmas Past||4:58||When the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to his past.|
|5||Let Us See Another Christmas||1:18||The track plays during Scrooge's teenage years. When his little sister Fan visits him to bring him home for the holidays.|
|6||Flight to Fezziwigs||1:28||When Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past go to Scrooge's old Boss's workplace. Scrooge sees himself with the holiday spirit as a young man.|
|7||First Waltz||1:00||When Scrooge sees his young self fall in love with Belle.|
|8||Another Idol Has Replaced Me||1:40||Played during young Scrooge's parting with Belle. The first time Scrooge sees his selfishness. Ending with Scrooge extinguishing the Ghost of Christmas Past.|
|9||Touch My Robe||3:42||Played during Scrooge's travels with the Ghost of Christmas Present.|
|10||The Clocktower||1:50||Played during Scrooge's encounter with Ignorance and Want while the life of the Ghost of Christmas Present expires in the Big Ben clocktower. Another scene when Scrooge discovers his selfishness.|
|11||The Carriage Chase||3:24||Played when the Ghost of Christmas Future chases Scrooge all around London.|
|12||Old Joe & Mrs. Dilber||2:27||Played when Scrooge's maid, Mrs. Dilber, is selling Scrooge's old bed curtains to Old Joe.|
|13||This Dark Chamber||1:57||Played when Scrooge sees a man's corpse lying on a bed and when the Ghost of Christmas Future shows kindness attracted to death, by showing Scrooges nephew, Fred.|
|14||None of Us Will Ever Forget||1:33||When the Ghost of Christmas Future shows the family of Scrooge's employee, Bob Cratchit, mourning his son, Tiny Tim, on Christmas. The first time when Scrooge feels sorry for another.|
|15||Who Was That Lying Dead?||3:08||Played during the graveyard scene. When the Ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge that the corpse was Scrooge himself, by showing his name on a tombstone. As Scrooge bargains for time, he is stuck as the grave pit starts to open. Scrooge not yet have falling in grabs onto a root. Scrooge truthfully saying that he has changed his ways, falls down his own grave.|
|16||I'm Still Here||1:27||Played when Scrooge is happily dancing on Christmas morning. Ending when Scrooge dances with his maid, Mrs. Dilber.|
|17||Ride On My Good Man||1:04||Played when Scrooge is riding a carriage with kids following. Ending with having Christmas dinner at his nephew's, Fred's house.|
|18||God Bless Us Everyone||3:16||Performed by Andrea Bocelli. Played as the first half of the closing credits.|
In July 2007, it was announced that director Robert Zemeckis had written a screen adaptation of Dickens' 1843 story. The film utilizes the same kinds of motion capture techniques used previously by Zemeckis in his films "The Polar Express" and "Beowulf".
Zemeckis wrote the screenplay with Jim Carrey in mind, and Carrey signed on to the project. Similar to Tom Hanks in "The Polar Express", Carrey plays a multitude of roles in the film, including Ebenezer Scrooge as a young, middle-aged, and old man, along with the all three of the Christmas spirits that haunt him.
Also in the cast are Bob Hoskins, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Darryl Sabara (from the "Spy Kids" films), Carey Elwes and Robin Wright Penn. Oldman, Elwes, Hoskins and Wright Penn, like Carrey, all play multitudes of roles. Zemeckis, director of the "Back to the Future" trilogy, has previously stated that "A Christmas Carol" is one of his favorite stories dealing with time travel. The music was scored by Alan Silvestri, who has collaborated with Robert Zemeckis a lot. Silvestri also wrote the song God Bless Us Everyone, the title refers to the novel's ending
This is the third film adaptation of A Christmas Carol released by Disney, the previous two being the 1983 animated featurette Mickey's Christmas Carol and the 1992 film The Muppet Christmas Carol (released under the Disney banner, almost a decade before Disney bought the Muppets). Other adaptations by Disney included the 1974 record album A Disney Christmas Carol (which became the basis for Mickey's Christmas Carol), the 101 Dalmatians TV series episode "A Christmas Cruella", and the "Ebenezer Daring" sketch in The Replacements holiday special "Dick Daring's All-Star Holiday Stunt Spectacular V".
This is also the second Disney film directed by Zemeckis, the first being Who Framed Roger Rabbit (both movies had Bob Hoskins in a key role). A DVD and Blu-ray of this film will be released in the North America region on November 16, 2010.
Differences from the original story
This is one of the most faithful adaptions of A Christmas Carol brought to the screen but it includes several differences.
- In the story, the "Ghost of Christmas Present" dies but he just disappears. In the movie, they show him dying at length.
- Unlike in the story, Scrooge falls into his own grave (similar to Mickey's Christmas Carol).
- The whole "future" scene with the horse chase and Scrooge becoming smaller is not in the story. In fact, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in the novel is nearly immobile except for the pointing finger.
- Old Joe does appear in the story. However in the movie, he chases a shrunken Ebenezer Scrooge, as well as a nearby rat, with a fire poker.
- At the end of the Ghost of Christmas Past sequence; as in the story, an emotional Scrooge snuffs out the spirit with his own cap but then unlike the text the old miser is jetted skyward.
- Unlike the story, the movie doesn't show Belle with her family.
- In the story, Scrooge encounters a separate ghost riding a phantom hearse before his visit with Jacob Marley. In the movie, the phantom hearse is moved up to The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.
- In the Ignorance and Want scene ,they are two gnarled baby dolls in the story and in the movie, they're street urchin spirits which after, Ignorance becomes a prison convict and Want is in a straightjacket
The film received mixed to positive reviews from US film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 53% of 184 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 5.9 out of 10. The site's general consensus is that "Robert Zemeckis' 3-D animated take on the Dickens classic tries hard, but its dazzling special effects distract from an array of fine performances from Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman."
The film opened at number one in 3,683 theaters, grossing $30,051,075 its opening weekend, with an average of $8,159 per theater. The film has come to gross an estimated $137,481,366 in the United States and Canada and $181,000,000 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $318,481,366.
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