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What's your favourite Christmas Carol?

No, not the songs, I’m talking about the Dickens story.

As we’ve been putting together a collection of our favourite festive films and TV shows to watch over Christmas, it’s struck me just how many of those are riffs on the classic story of Scrooge and the three ghosts. It feels like one of those immortal tales that can survive drastic re-interpretation and still maintain its core appeal, and there have been some great, imaginative takes on it over the years.

So what are your favourites?

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I’ll go first with a few of mine.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

An obvious one but one that still stands up. Despite all the Muppet-y fun I think what really makes this is Michael Caine’s central performance - it never feels like he’s mugging or playing a pantomime version, it feels sincere and true in a way that you’d expect from a more ‘straight’ take. Despite mentioning the other day that my kids weren’t that bothered by this movie (or the Muppets in general), one of them asked to put it on last Saturday night and we watched the whole thing and enjoyed it all over again.

Scrooged

A wonderful modern update that not only provides a great role for Bill Murray (pushing his version of Scrooge, Frank Cross, as far into nasty territory as possible in a fun satire of 1980s consumer, corporate and media culture) but it also has lots of meta fun with the staging of a live TV version of the Scrooge story within the story of the movie itself. If you’re not singing along by the end of this then you don’t have a heart.

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol

My favourite of the Doctor Who Christmas specials, this one is a direct riff on Dickens with a fun time-travel twist. Michael Gambon turns in a brilliant performance as the Scroogier-than-Scrooge Sardick, as the Doctor uses his TARDIS to travel back into his past and improve his childhood and turn him into a better person, while Amy shows up to try and convince him of the plight in the present of a doomed spaceship about to crash on Sardick’s planet. But it’s the ‘ghost of Christmas future’ scene that provides the best twist of all, as the Doctor shows the younger Sardick the man he’s destined to grow up to be. Oh, and there’s also a giant flying shark pulling a sleigh, which I’m sure Charles Dickens would have included if he’d thought of it.

Blackadder’s Christmas Carol

This one is tons of fun, revolving around one great central twist: this version of Scrooge (Ebenezer Blackadder) starts off as a good and kind man, and the ghosts of Christmases past and future inadvertently end up turning him evil by showing him that bad guys have all the fun. I’ve watched this show maybe more than any other episode of TV and it works for me every time.

Grant Morrison’s Batman

Ok, this is a bit of a tenuous one, but I enjoyed the way Morrison used the framework of the three ghosts of past, present and future to toy with Batman in the opening of his mega-run, ultimately helping to shift Batman’s mindset from the angry loner version to a version that was more trusting and reliant on his friends and family.

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I don’t really have much affection for any of the adaptations that put the story in a different setting, as I think the original setting and atmosphere can’t be bettered. This version gets both setting and atmosphere spot on, and is probably the only one I would choose to re-watch now:

This was apparently a contemporary review from Variety:

a grim thing that will give tender-aged kiddies viewing it the screaming-meemies, and adults will find it long, dull and greatly overdone

and if I’d been around to read it at the time I’d have said, “Good, they’ve done it right”.

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Michael Caine and the Muppets, and also the musical version with Albert Finney, which my dad watches every December. More than once.

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Patrick Stewart’s (wish I could’ve seen his long-running single-actor stage version) and Jim Carrey’s (he actually does get to voice most of the characters). And surprised neither has been mentioned yet.

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This has a warm place in my heart, but yeah, Muppets Christmas Carol FTW.

Or this:
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Scrooged.
It’s one of my favorite movies of all time even - I never tire of watching it.
Each Ghost is played to pitch perfection, and Murray’s natural smarm is an incredible foil to the events and spirits around him, and contributes to his reactions a whole lot. What helps the modern update setting is also that it’s based its plot around an adaptation of the story itself - allowing for Murray to interact and engage with the story from this time-shifted perspective. It’s a whole lot of fun.
I love it.

Tied would be Muppets Christmas Carol.
Because it’s hilarious and Michael Caine was brilliant in it.

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I have to agree with @davidm; the 1951 version starring Alistair Sim is my favorite version. I also loved watching the short Disney feature Mickey’s Christmas Carol with my young children because, y’know, Scrooge McDuck.

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