one minute movie reviews (oneminutemovies) wrote,
one minute movie reviews

Read some Dickens, it's good!

It is impossible to live in our society and be unfamiliar with the story of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Scrooge has been played by Reginald Owen, Alastair Sim, George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart, Mr. Magoo, and Bill Murray, among countless others. It is an unwritten rule that every television show ever made must have a "Christmas Carol" episode. I have fond memories of my brother playing Marley's Ghost in a junior high production, shrieking, "MANKIND WAS MY BUSINESS!" and rattling his chains and generally chewing up the scenery. The story of The Christmas Carol is more often portrayed than that of the Nativity. Yet many people have never read the original version, Dickens' 1843 classic, written to pay off a debt and arguably the source of today's family-oriented Christmas tradition in the Western world.

Aside from being a huge historical icon, A Christmas Carol is a wonderfully enjoyable read. Scrooge is a peerless protagonist, the epitome of callousness and stinginess at the beginning of the tale ("Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!") who still retains the remnants of a sense of humor ("There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"), suffers through his ghostly visitations in a surprisingly receptive way and obligingly is redeemed ("I don't know what to do!...I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!") to spend the rest of his life celebrating Christmas every minute in the most philanthropic of ways. It is a partially sad ending for those readers who preferred him crabby and misanthropic.

Aside from Scrooge, the story is filled with vivid characters who have all become Christmastime icons: Bob Cratchit, patron saint of all overworked, underpaid employees, who yet gets a paid holiday on Christmas even before Scrooge's reformation; Scrooge's benevolent nephew, who speaks one of the most oft-quoted peons to the Christmas season ("There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,... Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"); the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, who might be even scarier than Marley's Ghost (is it more scary to have a deceased friend threaten you with a horrific afterlife, or to have a faceless, silent specter point out your tombstone to you? Discuss among yourselves); and, of course, Tiny Tim ("God Bless Us, Every One!").

It is easy to become jaded and cynical about the Christmas season in the (materialistic, hypocritical, troubled) world of today. Reading this Victorian classic is an easy way to receive an infusion of Christmas spirit direct from 1843.
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