For me, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without viewing at least one movie version of A Christmas Carol. You know the story – a miserly grump is visited by four ghosts on Christmas Eve and learns the errors of his ways. I love this Charles Dickens story, and I’m clearly not alone considering the amount of movie versions there are out there.
So, sometime this Christmas, the time will come when I’ll be reclining on my couch with a glass of sherry and a mince pie to hand, poised for my annual A Christmas Carol experience.
But which of the versions will I be watching?
Here’s my Top 10:
This incredibly underrated version, with Patrick Stewart in the Scrooge role, is by far the best. Its Victorian setting looks amazing, and it also stars Richard E Grant and Saskia Reeves. But, it’s Stewart’s movie. His Scrooge is so powerfully depicted, you feel you really know him by the end. Guaranteed to make me cry into my mince pie.
A Christmas Carol is showing on Christmas Eve on Five at 7.05pm, and on Christmas Day on Five USA AT 4PM
I grew up with this musical version, starring Albert Finney as Scrooge. It was always essential Christmas Eve viewing when I was a kid. The musical numbers are catchy and support the story rather than detract from it. My favourite songs are the wonderfully cockney Father Christmas and the hugely ironic Thank You Very Much. Even Tiny Tim’s squeaky version of A Beautiful Day has a special place in my heart (ordinarily a rendition like that would have me reaching for the ear plugs).
Victorian London is replaced by 1980s America in this comedy version starring Bill Murray as a mean-spirited TV boss who is visited by a series of ghosts on Christmas Eve. I do prefer the traditional setting for this tale, but it’s always fun to see a spin on a classic text and this one works for me by pressing all right the emotional buttons.
Most people say this vintage Alistair Sim version is the best A Christmas Carol adaptation, but I’m just not that moved by Sim’s Scrooge. I also find this version notably slower paced than my top two favourites.
Scrooge – A Christmas Carol is showing today, 20th December, on Five at 1.40pm
I’m always slightly put off a movie when its stars aren’t real people, but somehow the combination of Michael Caine
The Muppet Christmas Carol is showing on 21st December on Five at 4.25pm
It’s not an amazing movie, but this fun contemporary telling with a gender swap spin on the classic tale is worth a look. Tori Spelling plays a selfish superstar TV host who gets the chance to mend her ways in time for Christmas. It’s one to watch while wrapping the presents perhaps.
A Carol Christmas is showing on 23rd December on Christmas 24 at 5pm
This is the animated, musical one featuring the voices of Kate Winslet, Nicolas Cage and Simon Callow. Not being a great fan of animation unless it’s done really well, I struggled with this version. However, it does feature Kate Winslet’s great song What If?, but you have to wait until the end to hear it.
A Christmas Carol (2001) is showing on Christmas Day on Film 4 at 11am
This is only on my list because I haven’t seen it yet, and feel that I must. However, if the above clip is anything to go by, the movie is much more focused on action and special effects than the emotional journey of a man who’s lost his way.
Possibly boasting the most visually beautiful Victorian setting of all of the Scrooge films, this all-singing, all-dancing version starring Kelsey Grammer has an all-star cast and won an Emmy. However, I find it a bore. The singing is relentless and starts to annoy. It makes nice Christmas wallpaper if you turn the sound down though.
A Christmas Carol: The Musical is showing on 22nd December on Christmas 24 at 11am and 3am
Another animated version, but worth a look for its exclusively canine spin on the seasonal story.