Starring: Alastair Sim, Kathleen Harrison, Mervyn Johns
Director: Brian Desmond Hurst
Running Time: 87 mins
Scrooge is a British film about Ebeneezer Scrooge, a cruel, cold-hearted man who hates Christmas, however after being met by three ghosts of the past, present, and future, begins to have a change of heart.
As a direct adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, you know exactly what you’re in for with Scrooge, so how does it take the classic story and make it work in a unique way? Well, while it does have a pleasingly traditional vibe that adds to the nature of its Victorian setting, it also comes across as a little dry, and with the exception of a few moving scenes here and there, it’s not the world’s most powerful adaptation of the classic story.
The biggest problem with the film is that it’s pretty much as bog-standard an adaptation of A Christmas Carol as there can be. Dickens’ tale has been adapted more times than any other as far as I can tell, and over the years it has become an absolute necessity to bring a different spin to the story to keep it feeling fresh and unique, as is evidenced by the enduring popularity of The Muppet Christmas Carol.
So, Scrooge’s main problems are effectively a product of its story’s own enduring brilliance, and while it may have felt a little more fresh and unique upon release in 1951, the film really hasn’t aged all that well amidst the tide of endless Christmas Carol remakes, parodies and adaptations.
Now, when it comes to portraying that story, there are positives and negatives to the film’s traditional atmosphere. On the plus side, it does occasionally have that old-world, cosy vibe of a Dickensian Christmas in Victorian London, effectively genesis for how Christmas is portrayed in media up to this day, and that makes for a rather pleasant atmosphere throughout. On the other hand, however, the movie fails to really hit home with the strong emotion of the story at hand, with the majority of its plot coming off as a little dry, and not really showing Scrooge’s emotional turmoil as he’s shown visions of the past, present and future.
I’m not asking for extreme melodrama, however the film does eventually prove that there is some real emotion to be seen with its moving and heartwarming conclusion. The classic tale definitely has enough depth for emotion all the way through, though, yet this film fails to make that work on a consistent basis, which makes a lot of the story’s main body a bit of a dull watch.
Overall, I wasn’t all that impressed with Scrooge. While it is a pleasingly traditional take on A Christmas Carol, the movie doesn’t quite have the consistent emotional intrigue to keep you engrossed in a story that you’ve seen a million times before, and that’s what unfortunately makes the film feel like somewhat of a dry adaptation, which is why I’m giving it a 6.6.