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"Scrooge" (AKA) "A Christmas Carol"- (1951 Version)-{Blu-ray}
Reviewer:
Taylor Carlson
Studio: VCI
Genre:
Family
Release Date:
11/3/09
Special Features:

Pop-up trivia track, commentary, DVD with fullscreen and widescreen versions

Review:

Scrooge (Released in the US as A Christmas Carol) is directed by Brian Desmond Hurst. Alastair Sim, Mervyn Johns, Hermione Baddeley, and Michael Dolan, The musical score is by Richard Addinsell. The film is based on the classic 1843 story by Charles Dickens. ***

A note before I begin - this film was originally released in the UK in 1951 under the title Scrooge. When it hit the US, it was retitled A Christmas Carol, after the source material. While this Blu-Ray is an American release under the American title, the title screen in the film still reads “Scrooge.” I'm going to refer to the film by its original UK title for this review. ***

Scrooge is based on the classic story A Christmas Carol. In case you're one of the 2 or so people on the planet not familiar with it, here's a brief summary. In 19th century England, Ebenezer Scrooge is an old miser who has been in business for decades. He loathes the world, and even with Christmas around the corner, shows no signs of letting up his cold-hearted ways. But that night, when he returns from the office, he gets an unexpected visit from the ghost of his late business partner - and he tells Scrooge that more ghosts are on the way, to show him the error of his ways with the direction he has taken in life. As the night progresses, he sees his past, present and future unfold before him - but will be remain a self-centered old miser who thinks it is too late to change, or see the error of his ways? ***

There are at least a dozen film versions of A Christmas Carol out there. This is one of the most frequently adapted stories for the screen there is, and with its powerful message it comes as no surprise. Scrooge, the 1951 adaptation, is often hailed as the best traditional adaptations for the screen - and with good reason. ***

What makes this film truly great is Alastair Sim in the title role. This guy doesn't just play Ebenezer Scrooge, he BECOMES him. This was Sim's best-known role, and it is quite possibly the best-known portrayal of the character. Sim is right at home playing this character in any mood - be it the early scenes where he is a rude old miser, right down to the closing scenes where he seeks redemption for his past wrongs. There is actual emotion in this story, and a few scenes are quite heart-wrenching. I won't deny it - a few scenes here had me in tears the first time I watched it. ***

Like many film adaptations of written work, this one takes some liberties with Dickens' original story. While I am usually opposed to this practice, what little was changed here actually seems to work in the story's favor. I won't go into any details because I don't want to spoil anything for first-time viewers, but these changes actually add depth and emotional weight to already-strong characters. ***

This is a timeless story, and easily the best adaptation of it. Dickens' story stands strong nearly 200 years after first being published, and it is no surprise to see adaptations of it still being made. It is a powerful story that shows even the most cold-hearted of people can find redemption, regardless of their age or past wrongs. And this is the finest version for a number of reasons. With its finally being released on the Blu-Ray format in America, what better time to add it to the collection? ---

Image And Sound:

After some terrible home video releases, I had my doubts about this film's Blu-Ray debut in America. Fortunately, this stands as the best-looking home video adaptation of this title to date. No, this isn't quite a Criterion-level transfer, but the quality here is astonishing nonetheless. Detail is strong through, film grain intact and free of any digital tweaking or enhancements. My only complaint is that there are quite a few speckles in the picture, but that's a small complaint in the long run. Audio is presented in both the original Mono and a Stereo track. Neither is lossless, but this isn't really the kind of movie that needs lossless anyway. Everything is loud and clear throughout, with only minimal negative issues. I doubt any fan will say “Bah, Humbug!” to this transfer.

Special Features:

Disappointingly, the bonus material is minimal. All we get are a commentary and pop-up trivia track, as well as a DVD version of the film. Gone are the other versions of the movie and colorized adaptation of this version. Surely, including one more disc would have allowed for more of the bonuses from earlier packages.

Final Words:

This is Dickens' classic tale in its finest incarnation. A great performance from Alastair Sim makes it one of the most memorable films of all time. Not to mention this Blu-Ray Disc features a superb transfer, even if it is a little light in the bonus features department. Still, I have no objections giving this one my highest recommendation.

 

 
 
 
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