Thursday, November 12, 2009

Scrooge of Christmas Carol Past: BFI's 1901 Gem

I've yet to see Disney's latest take on "A Christmas Carol" with all of Robert Zemeckis' performance-capture 3D gewgaws. Part of it is because it's just not close enough to Christmas for me to catch the spirit--I'm definitely a post-Thanksgiving Yuletide reveler. The other part is I'm leery of any new film version of Dickens' tale that dares to tread where Alastair Sim (Best. Scrooge. Ever.) and Albert Finney (Most. Underrated. Scrooge. Ever.) have already gone. I've also got a soft spot for the animated Mr. Magoo version (the first great Christmas special on TV--it predated "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by three years) and, yes, 1983's "Mickey's Christmas Carol." There's another "Christmas Carol" out there, however, that's suddenly being discovered by a whole new audience and is definitely worth a look.

To coincide with the London premiere of "Disney's A Christmas Carol" this month, the British Film Institute posted on its YouTube channel the silent 1901 film "Scrooge, or Marley's Ghost." Just under 3 1/2 minutes of the original 5-minute movies survives, but what remains is in remarkable shape and features some pretty snazzy special effects for its time.

I'm thinking I have another favorite Scrooge to add to my holiday list. Looks like Jim Carrey will have to wait a little longer.

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