Charles Dickens really couldn’t have known what he created back in 1843 when he first published his story A Christmas Carol. This tale must have been made and adapted for film and television more than any other literary work ever. As well as countless film versions telling the story pretty much unaltered, many TV shows (especially US ones) have taken the idea and adapted it for Christmas specials of their own.
Personally, my favourite version (and apologies to the Muppets because I did like their version too) is the 1988 film Scrooged, starring Bill Murray as the Scrooge like Frank Cross. Whilst it changes some details of the story to bring things up-to-date (for example, Frank Cross is the boss of a TV Station, rather than a money lender, or whatever Ebenezer was supposed to be) the basic premise of the story survives intact.
Frank’s TV company is attempting a world’s first for their Christmas extravaganza. A live transmitted version of A Christmas Carol. Frank’s motives in this are more driven by money and greed than by presenting a good Christmas message. He had a bit of a miserable childhood, so doesn’t really take much interest in Christmas celebrations.
Frank is first visited by the ghost of his long dead boss, who warns him that he is to be visited that evening by three more ghosts who will show him his past, present and future, in an effort to make him change his ways. Frank, unsurprisingly perhaps, believes he has just been hallucinating, but he begins to change his mind as the ghosts start to pay him visits.
The Ghost of Christmas Past is a rough talking, slob like taxi driver, who drives Frank around with little apparent care for safety whilst revisiting Frank’s past. Next comes the Ghost of Christmas Present, my personal favourite, who might look all sweetness and light, but packs a pretty mean punch. Finally, there is the Death like Ghost of Christmas Future. Needless to say Frank changes his ways and becomes a better person after all of this.
The film is most definitely a comedy, but it swings from being quite light hearted and slapstick through to being quite dark and forbidding at times, and it moves along at quite a pace. It may have a bit of a cheesey ending with a big song and dance number, but this is balanced out with some of the dry comments made by Frank, which show that he may not have quite lost the entirety of his old self, rather he has found the happier side of his self that he had lost up until now.