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A Christmas Carol. (The Adult Version.)

The newest film adaption of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol stars Jim Carrey in pretty much every role. It’s an interesting interpretation that sticks closely to Dicken’s original dialogue and moralistic tone, and delivers serious creepiness and darkness along the way. It’s way too dark for children, which reflects the ghoulishness that director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Cast Away) enjoyed with his previous film, Beowolf.

The idea that each of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future are all, in fact, Scrooge himself is cleverly portrayed by having Carrey take on the roles of Scrooge AND the three ghosts. Carrey, rather surprisingly, plays it with subtlety. There is, thankfully, little of his usual facial and vocal shenanigans.

The ghosts use plenty of 3D animated trickery that truly looks beautiful. The Ghost of Christmas Future is a shadow that has solidity and fills space when light passes over it. The Ghost of Christmas Past is a nymph-like character with a head of flame. He’s also a bit of a stoner dude, taking us on a psychedelic journey through time. The third member of the trio, the Ghost of Christmas Present, is a godlike figure that is human and realistic looking. Like, completely real! He has two ghastly, grotesque children living under his cloak, called Want and Ignorance. Just plain creepy.

This deity ghost declares “me and my brethren, of which I have many, we pay no notice to those on the ground” in an interestingly polytheistic diatribe against the idea of the ‘personal god’. This is a Disney film so that sort of talk is pretty damn surprising. Those wacky mid-west Americans do love their Christianity and this film seems to do everything to ward them off, with its sinister themes, supernatural elements and negative religious connotations.

The motion-capture style of animation that Zemeckis has used previously in films like Beowolf and Polar Express has been employed once again. This time he manages to approach human-like fluid movement and solidity. Two men shaking hands actually look like they are exerting energy and force and weight against each other. Perhaps in paying such close attention to achieving perfection, a little heart and soul has been lost. It’s hard to see how Scrooge can be swayed from his Scrooge-ish-ness to a more positive, caring life by the darkness and despair that the ghosts present him.

I saw A Christmas Carol with a few friends and each of us walked out feeling something different. There was love, there was hate, there was like, there was indifference. Clearly, a polarising movie. I don’t know if I’ll be adding it to my Nightmare Before Christmas/It’s a Wonderful Life/Little Drummer Boy/Die Hard Christmas Eve ritual but it sure looks purdy!

words: Kristen Hodges


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