I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Literary Gift

I love Charles Dickens. His works are the most quoted of all The Classics. It can’t possibly matter that the man seemed unacquainted with punctuation when he gave us such lines as:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

“Please, Sir, I want some more."

“Bah! Humbug!”

“God bless us every one!”

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

“Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”

(Okay, so that last one was from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention.)

It is hard to think of Christmas without thinking of Charles Dickens and his classic ghost story A Christmas Carol. It is one of my favorites to read (particularly aloud) this time of year. It is also a favorite of Hollywood, and while many classic English novels have been made into movies (think PBS), none have been done in as many different ways as A Christmas Carol.

I tend to be extremely critical of movies based on books and I rarely enjoy watching them. I would wager given that and the vast number of A Christmas Carol versions available to me, you could not guess my favorite. Here’s a hint: Scrooge is played by Michael Caine and Bob Cratchit is green. You guessed it…The Muppet Christmas Carol!! Yes, there are some major discrepancies between the book and the movie but for a movie aimed at kids, it is surprisingly true to Charles Dickens. Okay, so Jacob Marley has a brother named Robert (Bob, ha ha!) Marley to allow the use of the popular, yet cantankerous Muppets duo of Statler and Waldorf. Oh, and did I mention it’s a musical? But with Mr. Fezziwig (Scrooge’s old boss) renamed Fozziwig because he is played by a bear named Fozzi, it’s as if Dickens wrote it to be a Muppet production!

I’m a mother, a writer, and a lifelong fan of Charles Dickens. I especially love the language of A Christmas Carol, but it can be, for younger readers, a bit difficult to understand. What I love about The Muppet Christmas Carol is that it is true to Dickens' original story, including quoting much of the dialogue verbatim, and what the writers couldn’t fit into the script, Paul Williams wrote into the catchy soundtrack. In addition, the movie uses a Muppet named Gonzo the Great (as Charles Dickens) to recite some of the narration word for word and explain some of the more difficult words and concepts to younger viewers. It is oddly educational and at the same time, wildly entertaining. We have watched it every Christmas for the past decade and because of it, my boys have been quoting Dickens since they were small! All of this makes The Muppet Christmas Carol on DVD my favorite gift to share with friends and family every year.

But the best part? At the end of the movie, Gonzo says to the audience, “If you liked this, you should read the book!”

Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? A favorite version of A Christmas Carol? How do you feel about books being made into movies? Which is the best? The worst?

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year,

~Heidi Larson Geis


December Contest: We're having weekly contests during December and we're giving away fun prizes! Leave a comment this week and you could win: a journal and a mug containing 3 Starbucks Christmas flavored VIA packets and 3 flavored tea bags. The mug has a photo of an old-fashioned typewriter on it and says: Write your own story. To see a photo of this week's prize, go here.

7 comments:

  1. Here's a bit of A Christmas Carol movie trivia:

    Nearly 50 actors and actresses have portrayed the deliciously infamous Scrooge in radio, television, Broadway and/or box office movie productions beginning as far back as 1908. Classic adaptations have starred George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart, Kelsey Grammar, Vincent Price, and Basil Rathbone (just to name a few). More progressive productions have replaced Ebenezer with “Ebbie,” “Ebenita,” “Ebony,” and “Scroogette,” played by Susan Lucci, Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams, and Tori Spelling respectively. We’ve even seen versions of Scrooge played by Mr. Magoo, Fred Flintstone, Daffy Duck, and Barbie. The newest big screen version stars Jim Carrey as not only Scrooge, but all three ghosts as well.

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  2. Heidi, I enjoyed your fun post. As I read through it, "Marley and Marley" kept ringing through my mind! That is the favorite song for one of my kids from the Muppet's Christmas Carol". WE were just singing it today!

    It was fun to read your insights into this fun yet accurate re-make of "The Christmas Carol." ;) I've only seen three versions--one when I was a wee girl (have no idea who was in it!), the George C. Scott one, and of course, the Muppet version. I like all three of those.

    My favorite book to movie would be Pride and Prejudice by the BBC. It seems accurate and has many fun nuances. :) The most disappointing thing about many book to movie attempts is that they leave out or digress from the actual plot/intentions of the author. But, some are well done. :)

    By the way, Ponderers, thank you so much for the prize of the mug, the VIA's, tea bags and journal. They will be greatly enjoyed! Merry Christmas!

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  3. Fun post, Heidi! We like The Muppet Christmas Carol too.

    Too bad Dickens didn't profit from all the versions of A Christmas Carol.

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  4. Favorite, must-watch Christmas movie: It's a Wonderful Life! I have to watch it once every December! This was the first year Christa watched it with us.
    And I love the Muppet version of A Christmas Carol, but haven't watched it in a while. Hhhmm, need to remedy that!
    Loved all the information packed into this blog post, Heidi!

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  5. Fun post, Heidi! I'm with Beth...It's a Wonderful Life is my favorite Christmas movie and one of my favorite movies in general. I also love White Christmas (even though the actual storyline has very little to do with Christmas). And I'm a huge fan of the Christmas Carol version with George C. Scott at Scrooge. But I also agree that the Muppets version is way fun, too. Who wouldn't love Kermit as Bob Cratchit?!

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  6. Christmas movies are a special genre of their own. I watched a couple of movies on Lifetime this season that were a little cheesy, but still filled you with a feeling of hope. I think that's what Christmas is all about--hope and love.

    When I was a child...okay, still love it, I loved 'Twas the Night Before Christmas animation about the mouse family and the son who destroyed the Christmas clock. Thanks to my sister, I've been enjoying The Christmas Story more. My favorite line is "Fragile? That must be Italian."

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  7. I am so late in posting this, that no one will ever read it.

    I don't have the Muppets Christmas Carol on DVD.

    I like the Christmas Carol though and it has meant a lot to my family as well. We watch it, the Albert Finney version, every year because it is so powerful!

    Thanks again, Heidi for your wonderful insight :)

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