A Christmas Carol (1999 film)

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A Christmas Carol
DVD cover
Based on A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
Written by Peter Barnes
Directed by David Jones
Starring Patrick Stewart
Richard E. Grant
Joel Grey
Composer Stephen Warbeck
Country of originUnited Kingdom
United States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producersRobert Halmi, Sr.
Patrick Stewart
Producer Dyson Lovell
Cinematography Ian Wilson
EditorDavid Martin
Running time95 minutes
Production companies TNT Productions
Turner Television
Hallmark Entertainment
Distributor Warner Bros. Domestic Pay TV Cable & Network Features
RHI Entertainment
Original network TNT
Original release
  • December 5, 1999 (1999-12-05)

A Christmas Carol is a 1999 British-American made-for-television film adaptation of Charles Dickens' famous 1843 novella A Christmas Carol that was first televised December 5, 1999, on TNT. [1] It was directed by David Jones and stars Patrick Stewart as Ebenezer Scrooge and Richard E. Grant as Bob Cratchit. [2] The film was produced after Patrick Stewart performed a series of successful one-man shows of A Christmas Carol on Broadway and in London. [3] [4]



On Christmas Eve in 1843, Ebenezer Scrooge, a surly money-lender at a counting house, who has run the business himself for seven years since his business partner Jacob Marley died, does not share the merriment of Christmas. He declines his nephew Fred's invitation to join him for Christmas dinner and dismisses two gentlemen collecting money for charity. His loyal, low-paid employee Bob Cratchit suggests that Scrooge have Christmas off, as there will be no business for Scrooge during the day. Scrooge agrees, but demands that Cratchit arrive "all the earlier" the following day. In his house, Scrooge encounters the ghost of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley, who warns Scrooge to repent of his wicked ways to avoid being condemned in the afterlife, as Marley has been. Marley tells Scrooge that three spirits will visit him during the next three nights, regardless of Scrooge's reluctance. Marley warns Scrooge that he will not be able to avoid his fate without their visit and tells him to expect the first ghost at around midnight.

At midnight, Scrooge is visited by the childlike Ghost of Christmas Past, who takes him back in time to his childhood and early adult life. They visit his lonely school days in boarding school, where his friends were all going home for Christmas but he is not allowed, because his father treated him badly after his mother died while giving birth to him. Scrooge's sister, Franny, comes to Scrooge's school and their father is a lot nicer, agreeing that he could come home for Christmas. Franny died a young woman while giving birth to Scrooge's nephew.

Scrooge's next Christmas takes place as an employee of Albert Fezziwig, who had a good heart and acted as a second father to Scrooge. Fezziwig throws a Christmas party, Scrooge attends and meets a young woman named Belle, with whom he falls in love and gets engaged. However, the Ghost shows Scrooge why Belle left him: he chose money over her. A tearful Scrooge extinguishes the Ghost as he returns to the present.

At two o'clock, Scrooge meets the merry Ghost of Christmas Present, which shows Scrooge the joys and wonder of Christmas Day. Scrooge and the Ghost visit Cratchit's house, learning his family is content with their small dinner. Scrooge takes pity on Cratchit's ill son, Tiny Tim. The Ghost eventually ages, commenting that Tiny Tim will likely not survive until next Christmas. As the Ghost dies, he warns Scrooge about the evils of "Ignorance" and "Want", who manifest themselves before Scrooge as two demonic children.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come arrives, appearing as a tall, silent, black cloaked figure, and takes Scrooge into the future. At the stock exchange, Scrooge's acquaintances discuss the death of an unnamed colleague, one of whom says that he only plans to attend the funeral if lunch is provided while another man says he doesn't wear black gloves (one of the clothes of mourning) or eat lunches so there's no reason for him to be there and none of these associates expect anyone else to attend either, given how unpleasant a person the deceased was. In a den, Scrooge recognizes his charwoman Mrs. Dilber, his laundress Mrs. Riggs, and the local undertaker trading several of the man's stolen possessions to a fence named Old Joe. Later, he sees a young couple, who owed the man money, are relieved he is dead, as they have more time to pay off their debt. The Ghost transports Scrooge to Cratchit's house, discovering Tiny Tim has died. The Ghost escorts Scrooge to a cemetery, where the Ghost points out his own grave, revealing Scrooge was the man who died. Realizing this, Scrooge vows to change his ways just as the Ghost disappears. The grave opens, and Scrooge sees his dead self lying in a coffin. He falls into the grave, then clings to his own dead body as he falls through the earth into Hell.

Awakening in his bedroom on Christmas Day, Scrooge finds the ghosts had visited him all in one night instead of three. Gleeful at having survived the spirits, Scrooge decides to surprise Bob's family with a turkey dinner, and ventures out with the charity workers and the citizens of London to spread happiness in the city. The following day, he gives Cratchit a raise and becomes like "a second father" to Tiny Tim, who escapes death. Scrooge and the Cratchits celebrate Christmas and Tiny Tim has recovered from his illness.


Rather than deliberately trying to resemble either the 1938 MGM version or the George C. Scott made-for-TV version in the cheerfulness and "Christmassy" feeling of their settings, the 1999 film takes as its inspiration to the classic 1951 film version with Alastair Sim in the grimness of some of its scenes and set design, although it still includes many cheerful moments. [5] It includes three scenes almost always omitted from other adaptations which are the lighthouse, coal miners, and sailors on a ship at sea, by showing montages with different groups of people in different sections of the country singing "Silent Night". The scene of the young couple who are relieved at Scrooge's death is also taken from the original story.

Main cast

Critical reception

In a positive review, Variety wrote "Oft-told tales are difficult to pull off, but...this one gets it right...Director David Jones displays a smooth hand that adds mounds of style to the rendition, and his approach to Peter Barnes’ script is a tribute to delicate staging...Stewart as Scrooge is such a perfect piece of casting that it will be hard to imagine anyone else as the sour ol’ tightwad in years to come." [6] The New York Times concurred, calling it "a glorious Christmas Carol." [7]


Patrick Stewart was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2000. Ian Wilson was nominated for Outstanding Cinematography at the Emmy Awards in 2000. [8]

See also

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