Film / A Christmas Carol (1984)
George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge.

I decided that he was the loneliest man in the world, and that's how I played him.
George C. Scott on his interpretation of Scrooge

A Christmas Carol is a 1984 made-for-TV film adaptation of the novel of the same name. Directed by Clive Donner, it stars George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge. It was released in theaters in England, where it was also filmed.

David Warner, who spent most of his career playing villains and psychos, has a major Playing Against Type moment as gentle, kindly Bob Cratchit.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Scrooge's father might be his Freudian Excuse, even though to his credit, Scrooge never relies on it to justify his behaviour.
  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: Ebeneezer initially is prepared to dismiss Marley's appearance as this.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The touching scene where Scrooge comes to Fred's house to accept his invitation for Christmas dinner at last, fearful that he would be rejected, only to find he needn't have doubted Fred's love.
  • The Aloner: Scott's interpretation of Scrooge.
  • Bad Future: A bit; it certainly is for the Cratchits, who are mourning Tiny Tim's death when Scrooge encounters them in the future. Doubly bad since Christmas Present had threatened exactly that earlier.
  • Broken Tears:
    • Bob Cratchit, briefly, in the vision of Christmas Yet to Come.
    • Scrooge, when he brushes the snow off the gravestone and his worst fear is confirmed.
  • Christmas Carolers: Right before Marley shows.
  • Creepy Child: Ignorance and Want.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: The motivations of the three spirits and Marley, Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present in particular, since they can talk and are not above a lot of snarking.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • The Ghost of Christmas Present.
    • The Ghost of Christmas Past can also be snarky, and even cruel.
    • Scrooge has his moments, such as when he tells the third ghost, "You're devilish hard to have a conversation with."
  • Death by Childbirth: Scrooge's mother died giving birth to him, leading to a troubled relationship with his father.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: When Belle's husband tells her about Scrooge working alone and miserable, she's quite saddened by the life he made for himself. Ebenezer snaps that he doesn't need her pity before Christmas Past helpfully reminds him that she can't hear.
  • Dying Alone: Scrooge's fate without the Heel–Face Turn.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Scrooge, naturally. Justified since in the future projected, he's dead.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The three spirits have Scrooge's best interest at heart, and could be considered "good," but in no way are they "nice."
  • Good People Have Good Sex: The Cratchits, as well as Belle and her new husband, if the number of their children is any indication.
  • Happily Married: Belle marries a kindhearted man and has many children.
  • Happy Dance: Scrooge dances around his room in delirious happiness once he realizes he still has time to change his life and avoid all the misery he would otherwise have caused.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The entire purpose (and result) of Marley and the Ghosts' visits.
  • Ill Boy: Tiny Tim, at least if Scrooge had not made his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Tiny Tim is the kind that exists to be a shining example of virtue and then die, although Scrooge's change of heart saved him from the second half of that.
  • Ironic Echo: At one point in the film, Scrooge states that it would be better for the poor to die and reduce the population. The Ghost of Christmas Present then uses the exact same statement Scrooge had said against him when they both witness how ill Tiny Tim is.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: One of Belle's reasons for leaving Scrooge. She realizes that the now-mercenary Scrooge will regret marrying a girl without fortune.
  • Kick the Dog: The exchange between Scrooge and Tiny Tim at the beginning of the film:
    Tiny Tim: (As Scrooge comes out of the office into the freezing cold) Merry Christmas, Mr Scrooge!
    Scrooge: Don't beg on this corner, boy.
    Tiny Tim: I'm not begging, sir, I am Tim - Tim Cratchit. I am waiting for my father.
    Scrooge: [snorts] Tim Cratchit? Hm. Then you will have a long wait, won't you?
    Tiny Tim: Merry Christmas, sir.
    Scrooge: (Walking off) Humbug.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present do not waste a single opportunity to blast Scrooge for his cruelty, delusions or stupidity. Past especially seems to especially enjoy taking the piss out of him.
  • Light Is Not Good: Played with. The Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present are surrounded with light, but they are not by any means soft characters. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come has light, but it is of the subdued, bluish variety. Past has the most light; the further into Scrooge's journey we go, the more the light dissipates.
  • Literal Genie: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come does this when Scrooge begs him to "take him home": he takes him to the grave he's buried in, since that's his 'home' now.
  • Mood Whiplash: At least twice. We go from hearing carolers to hearing Marley's creepy voice as Scrooge walks home. Then, in Christmas Present, we go straight from Fred's family Christmas party to a deserted part of London, where a family with two kids is living on the street.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Scott simply neutralises his own American accent. It works in favour of the film by averting the distraction of a Fake Brit.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Ghost of Christmas Future is hooded, silent, and usually seen from a distance or by shadow. The only hint of its body we see is one of its hands, which has unusually long fingers.
    • A similar case happens with its seeming lack of arrival. Marley tells Scrooge that the third ghost "will come in his own due time", instead of the previous 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock pattern. Scrooge is not even returned to his bedroom when the Ghost of Christmas Present leaves, causing him to fear that the third ghost might not even appear and that Scrooge has been left to freeze.
  • Oh, Crap!: This reaction is clear in Bob Cratchit's expression when he realizes he's late on the 26th.
  • Parlor Games: The guests at Fred's Christmas party are playing "Similes". Fred would say the first part of a common expression, such as "Quiet as..." or "Tight as...", which the player would then have to fill in (in these examples, 'a mouse' and 'a drum', respectively). The answer given, though, "As tight as your Uncle Ebeneezer's pockets."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The Ghost of Christmas Present ends up delivering this to Scrooge.
    Ebenezer Scrooge: You use my own words against me?
    Ghost of Christmas Present: Yes! So perhaps, in the future, you will hold your tongue until you have discovered where the surplus population is, and WHO it is. It may well be that, in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than MILLIONS like this poor man's child.
  • Replacement Love Interest: The man Belle ended up marrying after leaving Scrooge looks just like his past self.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: God Bless Us Everyone is among the various songs the Christmas Carolers sing. Perhaps it's simply Suspiciously Apropos Music in-universe.
  • Timeshifted Actor: Mark Strickson, fresh off his run on Doctor Who, plays Young Scrooge.
  • The Unintelligible: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come doesn't speak, but every time it "responds" to Scrooge, a weird metallic wail (possibly meant to evoke the screech of a graveyard's gate) is heard in the background.
    Scrooge: You're devilish hard to have a conversation with.