11 Very Different Versions of A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – an English literary classic, known all around the world, translated into dozens of languages, and performed by countless professionals and school children alike every year. The book is perhaps one of the most often adapted ones too – and today we take a look at 11 very different works inspired by this timeless story.
1. The Radio Show
Many radio stations have created their own tradition of broadcasting A Christmas Carol show around the holidays every year, but the one worth mentioning here is an annual dramatisation on the CBS Radio Network from 1934-1953. Lionel Barrymore, the great uncle of Drew Barrymore, played the role of Scrooge for the station every year, with one exception of John Barrymore filling in for his brother and another of Orson Wells stepping in when Lionel was ill.
2. The Classic Film
The first known movie version of the Dickens’ classic was created in 1901 and preserved by the BFI archives – but the version that stands out above the rest and is often cited as the one that paved the way for all the others came out in 1951. Entitled simply ‘Scrooge’ and starring Alastair Sim in the titular role, it is widely regarded as perhaps the most faithful film version of the Dickens classic to date.
3. The Musical... with Puppets
How could one talk about different A Christmas Carol adaptations and not mention The Muppet Christmas Carol? Starring Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge, with Gonzo narrating the film as Dickens and Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, the movie follows the original story closely while adding humour and songs to suit the Muppets’ aesthetic.
4. The Animation
Many of our favourite cartoons have had a go at adapting this timeless tale: The Flintstones, Looney Tunes, Smurfs, The Jetsons, Scooby Doo… but the one that deserves the top spot here is an Oscar nominated special, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, featuring Scrooge McDuck as the main character.
5. The TV Special
While not the best adaptation, Ms. Scrooge, a 1997 TV movie is known for swapping both Scrooge as well as Marley for modern female characters. It stars Cicely Tyson in the main role (pictured).
6. The Parody
Blackadder's Christmas Carol is a one-off episode of the British comedy series Blackadder. It is narrated by Hugh Laurie and stars Rowan Atkinson as Ebenezer Blackadder – the nicest man in England, who slowly turns into a miserable, greedy man as he learns that everyone’s been taking advantage of him and ‘bad guys have all the fun’.
7. The Opera
Our very own Simon Callow wrote the libretto and directed the opera version of A Christmas Carol for Houston Grand Opera. The work focused on Scrooge’s fight for his soul, and the dramatic score reflected that perfectly.
8. The Ballet
The Northern Ballet has been performing their ballet productions of A Christmas Carol for years now, and with the festive classical music by Carl Davis, colourful sets and costumes and fantastic choreography, this is a magical Christmas offering not to be missed.
9. The Graphic Novel
For something completely different, Batman: Noël is a graphic novel that puts the caped crusader inside the world of the beloved Dickens story. It is narrated by one of the Joker’s henchmen and puts the Dark Knight as Scrooge, Robin as Marley, Catwoman as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Superman as the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Joker as the Ghost of Christmas Future.
10. The Derivative Blockbuster
Loosely inspired by A Christmas Carol, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is a romantic comedy starring Matthew McConaughey as a womanizer who’s being haunted by a ghost of one of his first girlfriends (played by Emma Stone). The ghost takes him on a journey of his past conquests to help him realise his mistakes, make him a better man and help him find true love with his childhood sweetheart, played by Jennifer Garner.
11. The Theatre Play Turned Cinema Event
And last but not least, the one that inspired this post – A Christmas Carol, Simon Callow’s one-man theatrical extravaganza that he and director Tom Cairns created for the stage. Charming critics and audiences alike, this magical adaptation has now been re-imagined into a film version that you’ll be able to watch at your local cinema in the UK or Ireland on Tuesday 11 December, for one night only. Book your tickets now!