A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

Top 5 Christmas Carol Adaptions

The original Dickens work that started it all, pictured in all its glory.

There are a few books that have been retold as much as “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. First published in 1842, the story of the Christmas-hating miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, being visited by the spirts of Christmas past, present, and future and changing his ways has made a home in the heart of the Christmas season. It has made phrases such as “being a Scrooge”, “Bah! Humbug!” and even “Merry Christmas” popular in today’s culture.

It has been adapted into countless stage plays, radio dramas, TV specials and feature films. Nearly every franchise has their own retelling with their own set of characters filling out the roles of the “Christmas Carol” cast.

The main reason why this story has been retold time and again is to tell the simple message of being a good person. Dickens uses the holiday season to reinforce this message. It is a basic story of second chances, which appeals to people. Here are the five best adaptations of the beloved story of Scrooge.

5 “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” (1983), animated theatrical short

This short features Disney characters, like Mickey as Bob Cratchit, Jiminy Cricket as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Scrooge McDuck as his namesake Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge is voiced by Alan Young, who plays him with the perfect cruel indifference at the start of the story and with whimsical joy in flashbacks and at the end. Mickey, with his kind heart but pushover attitude, makes the perfect Bob Cratchit. Pete makes a surprising great Ghost of Christmas Future. The scene when he sends Scrooge to his own grave with nothing but a lit cigar lighting his face is chilling. The story is a straightforward, albeit abridged, retelling of the classic and an effective one.

4 “A Christmas Carol (Doctor Who)” (2010), television special

“Doctor Who” is a long-running British science fiction show that follows the adventures of a time traveling alien known only as “The Doctor.” Considering that “Doctor Who” has been on air on and off since 1963, it is surprising that it took them this long to make an “A Christmas Carol” episode. In this version, the Doctor finds himself on a planet that is like Victorian England. His human companions are trapped on a space liner that will crash and burn in the planet’s atmosphere. Fortunately, the planet has a device that can control the atmosphere; unfortunately, it is owned by the most uncaring man in the galaxy.

This telling of “A Christmas Carol” forgoes the ghosts, instead having the Doctor use his time machine to act as the ghosts of Christmas Past and Future, with his companion trapped on the liner as the ghost of Christmas Present via hologram. This special has what is properly the most original take on the Ghost of Christmas future scene in any Christmas carol. No spoilers here; check it out for yourselves.

3 “Batman: Noël” (2011), graphic novel

Gotham, Christmas Eve. The Joker is planning an attack on Gotham, and the only way for Batman to find him is through a low-level henchman named Bob. Meanwhile, Batman is haunted by the memory of the death of Jason Todd, a signal for things to come. Once again there are no “ghosts”; but instead characters filling out the roles: Catwoman is the Ghost of Christmas Past, Superman is the Ghost of Christmas Present and the mad clown himself, Joker, is the Ghost of Christmas Future. “Batman: Noël” is a fresh and fun take on the “Christmas Carol.”

2 “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1993) feature film

Best Scrooge. I know that isn’t what you would expect from “The Muppet Christmas Carol”, but it’s true. Michael Caine gives the performance his all as Scrooge, and frankly blows everyone else in the role out of the water. Caine brings all the dignity the role of Scrooge can bring, despite talking to Muppets for most of the film. This was the first Muppet movie made after Jim Henson’s death and the first to be released under Disney. Thankfully, it does not disappoint. The Muppets are charming and the songs are fun, but Caine is the most standout aspect of this movie.

1 “A Christmas Carol” (1984), made-for-TV movie

If you just want a straight up telling of “A Christmas Carol” without any gimmicks, then look no further. Featuring George C. Scott as Scrooge, this is just “A Christmas Carol” adapted to movie form. The movie aired on CBS. This is one of the few adaptions that feels like a ghost story —the Jacob Marley scene is chilling. The ensemble cast is amazing, filling each role perfectly. Beautiful set designs and strong performances all around make this a must-watch.


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Sean Curzon
Sean Curzon, Staff Writer

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