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Film / A Christmas Carol (1999)

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A Christmas Carol (1999) is yet another adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, starring Sir Patrick Stewart as the old, hard-hearted miser Ebenezer Scrooge. It was produced by TNT and Hallmark Entertainment for TV. It sticks very close to the book for the most part, including several minor sequences usually left out of adaptations.

This adaptation also features Richard E. Grant as Bob Cratchit, Joel Grey as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Desmond Barrit as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Tim Potter as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Bernard Lloyd as Jacob Marley, Dominic West as Fred, and Laura Fraser as Belle.


This film contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • In the book, Marley's funeral is only referred to. This film, however, starts with his Lonely Funeral.
    • Scrooge going to church after his reformation was an offhand mention in the book and is here expanded on when he goes, realizes he doesn't know the words to the hymns, and a kind parishioner helps him remember.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Scrooge's sister Fan had her name changed to Fran.
  • Adaptational Badass: Scrooge in the book is utterly terrified of Jacob Marley, especially when he unhinges his jaw, while this Scrooge is unnerved but more nonchalant and even helps him fix his jaw when it gets stuck open.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Joel Grey as the Ghost of Christmas Past has a feminine appearance and a masculine voice, similar to popular depictions of angels.
  • Big Eater: Mrs. Fezziwig is on a diet but eats a lot to get the strength to go through with it.
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  • Big Fun: Mr. Fezziwig, as well as his wife.
  • Black Comedy: When the priest and coroner remark sadly on Marley's Dying Alone, with no relatives to grieve, Scrooge says appreciatively "at least he was spared that in his final hours."
  • Blinded by the Light: When Scrooge attempts to cover the Ghost of Christmas Past with its cap, the more it's covered the brighter the light becomes.
  • Creepy Child: Ignorance and Want, who are terrifyingly scrawny and haggard. Ignorance moves towards Scrooge hungrily until Christmas Present pulls him back and warns Scrooge to beware of him especially.
  • Floral Theme Naming: All of Fezziwig's daughters are named after flowers.
  • Foreshadowing: At Marley's wake, one of the men comments on Scrooge's 'dead as a doornail' remark by suggesting 'dead as a doorknob' or 'door knocker' would be better. Marley first appears to Scrooge with his face in his door knocker.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Pausing the frame while Scrooge signs Marley's death certificate lets you see the person just before him, Edmund Swinbank, who died via "decay of nature." Marley himself is listed as having died via a visitation from God.
  • Freudian Excuse: Downplayed compared to other adaptations, as while Scrooge's father blamed him for his mother dying and sent him away he later repented and asked Fran to pick him up.
  • The Faceless: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come has no face visible under its hood except for its Glowing Eyes.
  • The Grovel: When Scrooge takes Christmas dinner with his nephew's family, it's clear that he knows his treatment of Fred has soured his reputation with Fred's wife, so the first thing he does after Fred welcomes him is apologize.
    Scrooge: And you, my dear. Can you...forgive a...stupid old man who doesn't want to be left out in the cold anymore? Will you take me in?
    Emily: [pauses, then smiles] Merry Christmas, uncle.
  • Interscene Diegetic: The Ghost of Christmas Present showing Scrooge people all over (and out to sea from) Great Britain singing "Silent Night".
  • Lonely Funeral:
    • Marley's funeral is attended only by his business partners, and his wake is attended by only three people, one of whom is the priest.
    • Scrooge's funeral in the future has no one mourning him.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Scrooge begs his past self to go back for Belle, but he doesn't.
    Old Scrooge: Go after her! (tearfully) GO AFTER HER!
  • Nostalgia Filter: Invoked when Scrooge sees the Christmas party and wonders if it was really that wonderful. Then he sadly admits that it was.
  • Not So Above It All: When Scrooge watches one of Fezziwig's Christmas parties, his feet start tapping to the music.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Mr Fezziwig's party song is the lament of a man who wants to marry Rose... but does not want to marry her uncle and her brother and her sister and her mother and her aunties in dozens and fat-headed cousins.
  • Parlor Games: Fred's party group plays Blind Man's Bluff.
  • Pet the Dog: Scrooge and Marley were genuinely friends in this version, and at his wake he tells him to rest content while promising to make their firm prosper.
  • The Pollyanna: This version of Fred is incredibly jovial and undeterred by his uncle's umpteenth lecture on why Christmas is a humbug. When Scrooge does show up the next day, Fred pumps his hand up and down in unbridled glee.
  • "Psycho" Strings: The coffin opening to reveal Scrooge's corpse is accompanied by some frantic strokes on the violin.
  • Rapid Aging: Grey hairs start appearing in Christmas Present's beard, and by the end of the night he's bent and haggard, with his age evident in his voice.
  • Reality Ensues: When he wakes up on Christmas Day, Scrooge walks out into the street wishing a Merry Christmas to all he meets. A number of people, undoubtedly more familiar with his usual Jerkass self, look at him like he's grown two heads. And on Boxing Day, Bob Cratchit is so shocked by his boss laughing and offering to raise his salary that he grabs the fireplace poker, clearly thinking that Scrooge has gone mad. But as Fred's ending narration noted, Scrooge didn't really care.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: The "dead as a doornail" is done as a conversation between Scrooge, the priest, and the coroner in which the coroner wonders aloud why a nail is supposed to be the deadest piece of ironmongery.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: In the present (and Christmas Future's vision), the Cratchits are in worn, threadbare clothing as they go about their meager Christmas. When they visit Scrooge's house for Christmas in the ending, they are turned out in much nicer fabrics and look much healthier to boot.
  • Signs of Disrepair: Scrooge is content to leave the sign unchanged because the rust and weathering is doing a fine (if gradual) job of erasing Mr. Marley's name for free.
  • Starts with Their Funeral: Quite famously, Marley was dead to begin with. This version opens with him being laid to rest and Scrooge promising to carry the firm ahead just as they have been, rather than it being a vision of Christmas Past.
  • Time Passes Montage: The timeskip from Marley's funeral to seven years later is marked by the sign above the door going from black to covered in rust.
  • Truer to the Text: This adaptation includes three scenes almost always omitted from other adaptations—the lighthouse workers, coal miners, and sailors on a ship at sea. We see them in montages with different groups of people in different sections of the country singing Silent Night. Ignorance and Want are also included, as are the young debtors relieved at Scrooge's death, the ghostly hearse, Bob sitting by Tiny Tim's body and mentioning Fred in the future, and the other chained spirits Marley shows Scrooge. (On the other hand, Scrooge making amends with the charity collectors gets Adapted Out.)
  • Visual Innuendo: The womanizing Topper uses a lit fire poker to make hot gin punch when ladies are around, making the pot boil over.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Downplayed, but Scrooge raises his cane threateningly at a group of children, scaring them into backing off.


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