Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Top Films: Christmas in June

“Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.”

An argument could be made that the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol is the best TV movie ever made. Part of what makes it so great, however, is that while it was made for television in the states, it was released theatrically in Great Britain so it naturally has a feature film feel to it.

What makes the film great by any standards is the source material: one of the best stories ever written. What makes it the greatest adaptation of that source is the great attention to detail and authentic feel it creates. From the lighting to the costumes to the sets, it does a phenomenal job (and better than the other adaptations) of recreating the time and place Dickens described.

A Christmas Carol has it all: Victorian England, the Christmas setting, and an important lesson in human kindness. Oh, and it is all a truly chilling ghost story. Marley is traditional: translucent and dragging chains around with deathly wide-open eyes. The Phantom at the end representing the future that may be is shrouded in a cloak like death and speaks not a word. Perhaps the scariest instance comes at the end of the Spirit of Christmas present’s time, when he opens his cloak to reveal Ignorance and Want; two emaciated children representing so many in the world.

If that is too intense for you, you might celebrate Christmas in June by instead enjoying an equally special if slightly less important AChristmas Story. No real deep message, just nostalgia for a time most of us are too young to have really remembered but have experienced just the same through the idealized version given to us in countless movies and television shows.

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