A Christmas Carol (1984 film)

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A Christmas Carol
Home video cover
Based on A Christmas Carol
1843 novel
by Charles Dickens
Screenplay by Roger O. Hirson
Directed by Clive Donner
Starring George C. Scott
Frank Finlay
David Warner
Susannah York
Edward Woodward
Roger Rees
Music byNick Bicât
Country of originUnited Kingdom
United States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Robert E. Fuisz
Producer(s)George F. Storke
Alfred R. Kelman
Production location(s)Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England
Cinematography Tony Imi
Editor(s)Peter Tanner
Running time100 minutes
Production company(s)Entertainment Partners Ltd.
Distributor 20th Television
Original network CBS
Picture formatColor
Audio formatDolby Stereo
Original release
  • 17 December 1984 (1984-12-17)

A Christmas Carol is a 1984 British-American made-for-television film adaptation of Charles Dickens' famous 1843 novella of the same name. The film is directed by Clive Donner, who had been an editor of the 1951 film Scrooge , and stars George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge. It was filmed in the historic medieval county town of Shrewsbury in Shropshire. [1]

A film adaptation is the transfer of a work or story, in whole or in part, to a feature film. Although often considered a type of derivative work, recent academic developments by scholars such as Robert Stam conceptualize film adaptation as a dialogic process.

Charles Dickens English writer and social critic

Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the 20th century critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories are still widely read today.

<i>A Christmas Carol</i> Novella by the English author Charles Dickens, first published in 1843

A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, commonly known as A Christmas Carol, is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in London by Chapman & Hall in 1843 and illustrated by John Leech. A Christmas Carol recounts the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. After their visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.



On Christmas Eve in 1843 London, Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly money-lender at a local counting house, does not share the merriment of Christmas. Scrooge declines his nephew Fred Hollywell's invitation for Christmas dinner and reluctantly accepts his loyal employee Bob Cratchit's request to have Christmas off since there will be no business for Scrooge during the day. As he leaves for the Royal Stock Exchange, Scrooge encounters Bob's ill son Tiny Tim waiting across from Scrooge's office. After initially mistaking Tim for a beggar, Scrooge assures him that he will have a long wait for his father in the cold before leaving.

In the stock exchange, Scrooge is greeted by three other businessmen who wish to purchase some corn; they had delayed in concluding the deal, apparently in hopes that Scrooge would lower his price. To their dismay, however, Scrooge informs them that the price has gone up 5% because of the delay, and unless they come to an agreement, the price would go up another 5% the next day. Before leaving, Scrooge informs them that he will not ship without the cash in hand. After being approached by two gentlemen collecting money for charity, Mr. Poole and Mr. Hacking, Scrooge turns down their request. In his house, Scrooge encounters the ghost of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley, who warns him to repent his wicked ways or he will be condemned to the same afterlife as his, carrying heavy chains forged from his own greedy ways. He informs Scrooge that three spirits will visit him for that night.

Jacob Marley fictional character who appears in Charles Dickens 1843 novella A Christmas Carol

Jacob Marley is a fictional character who appears in Charles Dickens's 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. He is Ebenezer Scrooge’s deceased business partner, now a chained and tormented ghost, doomed to wander the earth forever as punishment for his greed and selfishness when he was alive. Marley roams restlessly, witnessing the hardships others suffer and lamenting that he has forever lost his chance to help them. Marley arranges for the three spirits to visit Scrooge and gives his friend an opportunity for redemption, which Marley tells him was "...a chance and hope of my procuring."

At one o'clock, the childlike Ghost of Christmas Past visits Scrooge and takes him back in time to his childhood and early adult life. They visit Scrooge's time as a boarding school student. He sees his father Silas, who gets him a job with Fezziwig, and his sister Fan, who has since passed away. Eventually becoming successful in money lending and business, Scrooge becomes engaged to a woman named Belle. However, the Ghost shows Scrooge how Belle left him when he chose his wealth over her. Finally the spirit shows Scrooge that Belle later married and had many children. Seeing what he had lost at the price of gaining his fortune, a distraught Scrooge puts out the spirit with its cap as he returns to the present.

Ghost of Christmas Past fictional character in A Christmas Carol by Dickens; the 1st of the 3 spirits to haunt Scrooge; shows Christmastime scenes from his past; a white-robed, androgynous figure of indeterminate age, whose head is illuminated and carries a metal cap

The Ghost of Christmas Past or The Spirit of Christmas Past is a fictional character in the work A Christmas Carol by the English novelist Charles Dickens.

Boarding school school where some or all people study and live

A boarding school provides education for pupils who live on the premises, as opposed to a day school. The word "boarding" is used in the sense of "room and board", i.e. lodging and meals. As they have existed for many centuries, and now extend across many countries, their function and ethos varies greatly. Traditionally, pupils stayed at the school for the length of the term; some schools facilitate returning home every weekend, and some welcome day pupils. Some are for either boys or girls while others are co-educational.

At two o'clock, Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Present, who shows him the joys and wonder of Christmas Day. Scrooge and the Ghost visit Bob's house, learning his family is surprisingly content with their small dinner. Scrooge takes pity on Tim after the spirit comments that he will not survive until next Christmas. The spirit then takes Scrooge to Fred's house for the Christmas party that Scrooge had earlier declined to attend. Scrooge and the spirit then go to a desolate street where he shows Scrooge two hideous children named Ignorance and Want and warns Scrooge to beware of them before he disappears.

Ghost of Christmas Present fictional character in A Christmas Carol by Dickens; the 2nd of the 3 spirits haunting Scrooge; a giant with brown curls, fur-lined green robe, a holly wreath with icicles and a torch; shows Scrooge ongoing Christmastime festivity and deprivation

The Ghost of Christmas Present or The Spirit of Christmas Present is a fictional character in the work A Christmas Carol by novelist Charles Dickens. The Spirit closely resembles Father Christmas from local folklore.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come approaches Scrooge, appearing as a silent, cloaked shadow, and takes him into the future. Scrooge witnesses the businessmen discussing the death of an unnamed colleague where they would only attend the funeral if lunch is provided. Scrooge recognizes several of his stolen possessions being traded to a fence named Old Joe. The spirit transports Scrooge to Bob's residence where he learns Tim had died. Scrooge is then escorted to a cemetery, where the spirit points out his own grave, revealing Scrooge was the man who died. Realizing this, Scrooge vows to change his ways and begs to be spared.

Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come fictional character in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol; the 3rd and last spirit to visit Scrooge; covered in a black cloak except for a hand and does not speak; shows scenes from Scrooge’s own funeral

The Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come, also known as The Ghost of Christmas Future, sometimes The Spirit of Christmas Future or The Spirit of Christmas Yet-to-Come or The Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Be, is a fictional character in English novelist Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. It is the third and final spirit to visit the miser Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve. The spirit closely resembles the Grim Reaper.

Fence (criminal) criminal who resells stolen goods

A fence, also known as a receiver, mover, or moving man, is an individual who knowingly buys stolen goods in order to later resell them for profit. The fence acts as a middleman between thieves and the eventual buyers of stolen goods who may not be aware that the goods are stolen. As a verb, the word describes the behaviour of the thief in the transaction: The burglar fenced the stolen radio. This sense of the term came from thieves' slang, first attested c. 1700, from the notion of such transactions providing a defence against being caught. The term remains in common use in all major dialects of modern English, all of which spell it with a "c" even though the source word in some dialects is now spelled defense.

Awakening in his bedroom on Christmas Day, Scrooge finds the ghosts had visited him all in one night. Gleeful at having survived the spirits, Scrooge anonymously sends the Cratchits a large, prize-winning turkey for dinner. He then ventures out into the city to spread happiness among the citizens of London. Scrooge finds the charity workers he encountered before and much to their elation, Scrooge agrees to make a large donation. Scrooge also accepts Fred's Christmas invitation after reconciling with him. The following day, he gives Cratchit a raise and becomes like "a second father" to Tim, who escapes death. A changed man, Scrooge now treats everyone with kindness, generosity, and compassion; he now embodies the spirit of Christmas.


Tombstone from the graveyard scene. To the current day, the stone remains in the graveyard of St Chad's Church, Shrewsbury where the scene was filmed EbenezerScroogeGrave.JPG
Tombstone from the graveyard scene. To the current day, the stone remains in the graveyard of St Chad's Church, Shrewsbury where the scene was filmed
George C. Scott American actor, film director and producer

George Campbell Scott was an American stage and film actor, director, and producer. He was best known for his stage work, as well as his portrayal of General George S. Patton in the film Patton, as General Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Ebenezer Scrooge in Clive Donner's 1984 film A Christmas Carol and Lieutenant Bill Kinderman in William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist III.

Ebenezer Scrooge focal character of Charles Dickens 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol

Ebenezer Scrooge is the protagonist of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol. At the beginning of the novella, Scrooge is a cold-hearted miser who despises Christmas. Dickens describes him thus: "The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice." Towards the end of the novella, Scrooge is transformed by the ghosts into a better person who changed his ways to become more friendly and less miserly.

Mark Strickson is a British TV producer and actor best known for his acting role as the character of Vislor Turlough, a companion of the Fifth Doctor, on the television series Doctor Who.


This movie was filmed on location in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, in the English Midlands. It originally aired on the American television network CBS on 17 December 1984, and was released theatrically in Great Britain. The U.S. debut was sponsored by IBM, which purchased all of the commercial spots for the two-hour premiere. The film brought in a 20.7/30 rating/share, winning its time slot and ranking No. 10 for the week. [2] The film was marketed with the tagline "A new powerful presentation of the most loved ghost story of all time!" Scott was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special for his portrayal of Scrooge.

The movie has run in syndication on local American channels since it debuted in 1984, earning a loyal fanbase, but was not released on VHS until 1989 (in the UK) [3] and to DVD in 1999. This was because Scott himself (and later his estate through Baxter Healthcare, to whom the Scott family donated their copyright) owned the rights to this film. On 25 November 2007, it returned to national television on AMC for the first time since its debut, and the network continues to broadcast it each December under license from the Scott estate and 20th Century Fox (the latter's distribution rights the result of their owning the video rights). In 2009, the Hallmark Channel also ran the movie soon after Thanksgiving. It remains among most beloved of the several adaptations of A Christmas Carol. In 2009, the film was re-released on DVD by Fox, with updated box art but the same menu and features as the previous DVD release. Fox released it on Blu-ray in December 2010.

Differences between book and film

Although the film was very close to the book, there were a few changes:

Critical response

Novelist and essayist Louis Bayard, writing for Salon.com, described this adaptation as "the definitive version of a beloved literary classic", praising its fidelity to Dickens' original story, the strength of the supporting cast, and especially Scott's performance as Scrooge. [4]

See also

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  1. "Shropshire movies: A Christmas Carol in Shrewsbury". BBC. 31 March 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  2. http://www.tvtango.com/listings/1984/12/17/christmas_carol_a
  3. http://www.videocollector.co.uk/christmas-carol-a/13185
  4. Bayard, Louis (24 December 2009). "The best 'Christmas Carol' ever". Salon . Archived from the original on 29 December 2009. Retrieved 25 December 2009.