Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009)

PG | 96 mins | Fantasy | 6 November 2009

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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Director:

Robert Zemeckis

Writer:

Robert Zemeckis

Cinematographer:

Robert Presley

Production Designer:

Doug Chiang

Production Company:

Imagemovers Digital
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HISTORY

The film marked the third consecutive picture directed by Robert Zemeckis that utilized performance capture digital technology after The Polar Express (2004, see entry) and Beowulf (2007, see entry), but it was the first of the three films to be released by Walt Disney Studios in the Disney trademarked Digital 3-D. For more information about performance capture, or motion capture, effects, please see the entries for The Polar Express and Beowulf.
       On 6 Jul 2007, Var announced that Jim Carrey was cast as “Ebenezer Scrooge” and the three spirits that haunt the character: the "Ghost of Christmas Past," the "Ghost of Christmas Present" and the "Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come." Carrey is also credited in the film as “Scrooge as a Young Boy,” “Scrooge as a Teenage Boy,” “Scrooge as a Young Man” and “Scrooge as a Middle Aged Man.” The article noted that director-writer-producer Robert Zemeckis had adapted the novel with Carrey in mind for the lead roles, and Zemeckis’s company, ImageMovers Digital, had recently negotiated an “overall” deal with Disney. Although ImageMovers was attempting to keep the project secret, the production was revealed to the public when actor Bob Hoskins announced on the Internet that he was cast in the film, according to Var.
       HR production charts on 29 Feb 2008 reported that principal photography began 25 Feb 2008 in Los Angeles, CA. A 1 Nov 2009 NYT article stated that technicians traveled to Shepperton Studios in Surrey, England, to capture digital data of actor Colin Firth’s performance before he joined the production in Los ... More Less

The film marked the third consecutive picture directed by Robert Zemeckis that utilized performance capture digital technology after The Polar Express (2004, see entry) and Beowulf (2007, see entry), but it was the first of the three films to be released by Walt Disney Studios in the Disney trademarked Digital 3-D. For more information about performance capture, or motion capture, effects, please see the entries for The Polar Express and Beowulf.
       On 6 Jul 2007, Var announced that Jim Carrey was cast as “Ebenezer Scrooge” and the three spirits that haunt the character: the "Ghost of Christmas Past," the "Ghost of Christmas Present" and the "Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come." Carrey is also credited in the film as “Scrooge as a Young Boy,” “Scrooge as a Teenage Boy,” “Scrooge as a Young Man” and “Scrooge as a Middle Aged Man.” The article noted that director-writer-producer Robert Zemeckis had adapted the novel with Carrey in mind for the lead roles, and Zemeckis’s company, ImageMovers Digital, had recently negotiated an “overall” deal with Disney. Although ImageMovers was attempting to keep the project secret, the production was revealed to the public when actor Bob Hoskins announced on the Internet that he was cast in the film, according to Var.
       HR production charts on 29 Feb 2008 reported that principal photography began 25 Feb 2008 in Los Angeles, CA. A 1 Nov 2009 NYT article stated that technicians traveled to Shepperton Studios in Surrey, England, to capture digital data of actor Colin Firth’s performance before he joined the production in Los Angeles. Production designer Doug Chiang told NYT that the film was originally conceived to depict the three visits by the ghosts as one, continuous take without edits, but the idea was abandoned to enhance “emotional content.” However, several long unedited sequences remained in the picture, including a thirteen-minute shot of Scrooge revisiting his youth with the Ghost of Christmas Past.
       As stated in a 26 Oct 2009 NYT article, the nearly $200 million production was promoted with “one of the most elaborate and expensive marketing campaigns” for a “live-action film” in Disney’s history. Starting the weekend of 23 May 2009, Disney partnered with Amtrak and Hewlett-Packard to sponsor a six-month train tour through forty American cities that highlighted the production with a “multi-car exhibit,” according to a 25 May 2009 LAT article. Los Angeles’s Union Station was elaborately outfitted for Christmas with carolers and artificial snow and over 30,000 people waited in line for up to three hours to view a first edition of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, costumes and props from the film, and multi-media demonstrations promoting the picture. The tour ended at Grand Central Station in New York City on 30 Oct 2009. Additionally, Disney marketed the film with iPhone applications, a theme game on Disney.com, a Facebook quiz, and a “communal online tree” to decorate with Christmas ornaments, as well as vast media campaigns and merchandising, according to the 26 Oct 2009 NYT.
       As stated in a 12 Sep 2009 Telegraph article, the world premiere on 3 Nov 2009 in London, UK, was marked by the simultaneous lighting of Christmas illuminations at three different areas in London. The decorations were all themed around the film and “tie-in events” were scheduled throughout the city with the hope of attracting tourists. London city government and business representatives stated that the deal with Disney was unprecedented.
       The film opened to mixed reviews and less than expected box-office grosses; according to a 22 Dec 2009 Guardian article, the picture grossed $31 million its opening weekend in the U.S. While various reviews, such as those in HR on 3 Nov 2009 and Var on 9 Nov 2009, complained that the grandeur of performance capture and 3-D digital technologies diminished the story’s humanity, the 6 Nov 2009 NYT argued that the picture displayed respect for the “virtues of the source material” and “an impressive balance between sensationalism and understatement.” Using The Polar Express as an indicator, Disney was confident that the picture would gain a greater audience after its release and, as stated in an 18 Nov 2009 LAT article, A Christmas Carol grossed $64.3 million by its second weekend. Disney reportedly opened the picture on 6 Nov 2009 to precede the release of James Cameron’s Avatar (2009, see entry), which was competing for the 3-D market.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Guardian (London)
22 Dec 2009.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Feb 2008.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Nov 2009
pp. 8-9.
Los Angeles Times
25 May 2009
Section D, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
6 Nov 2009
p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
18 Nov 2009
Section B, p. 3.
New York Times
26 Oct 2009
Section B, p. 3.
New York Times
1 Nov 2009
p. 3.
New York Times
6 Nov 2009
Section C, p. 1.
Telegraph (London)
12 Sep 2009.
---
Variety
6 Jul 2007.
---
Variety
2 Nov 2009
p. 8, 10.
Variety
9 Nov 2009
p. 39, 43.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Dancers:
[and]
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Walt Disney Pictures and ImageMovers Digital Present
A Robert Zemeckis Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
Mocap prod mgr, Performance capture unit
2d 2d asst dir, Performance capture unit
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Prod video supv
Cam op, Performance capture unit
Cam op, Performance capture unit
Cam op, Performance capture unit
Cam op, Performance capture unit
Cam op, Performance capture unit
Cam op, Performance capture unit
Cam op, Performance capture unit
Cam op, Performance capture unit
Cam op, Performance capture unit
Still photog, Performance capture unit
Still photog, Performance capture unit
Video op, Performance capture unit
Reference cam op, Performance capture unit
Video assist, Performance capture unit
Key grip, Performance capture unit
Best boy, Performance capture unit
Grip, Performance capture unit
Grip, Performance capture unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Art dir
Art dir
Art dir
Art dept prod mgr
Art dept APM
Concept artist
Concept artist
Concept artist
Concept artist
Concept artist
Concept artist
Concept artist
Concept artist
Concept artist
Concept artist
Concept artist
Concept artist
Concept artist
Concept artist
Concept artist
Char/Cost artist
Char/Cost artist
Char/Cost artist
Char/Cost artist
Char/Cost artist
Storyboard artist
Graphic des
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Asst ed
Asst VFX ed
Ed note-taker
Ed asst
Ed asst
Ed asst
Ed asst
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Digital set des
Junior digital set des
Junior digital set des
Model maker
Model maker
Model maker
Concept sculptor
Concept sculptor
CG concept modeler
CG concept modeler
CG concept modeler
CG concept modeler
CG concept modeler
CG concept modeler
CG concept modeler
CG concept modeler
CG concept modeler
CG concept modeler
CG concept modeler
Asst set dec
Leadman
Set dresser
Swing gang
Set dec coord
Prop master, Performance capture unit
Asst prop master, Performance capture unit
Mocap prop shop supv, Performance capture unit
Mocap prop maker, Performance capture unit
Mocap prop maker, Performance capture unit
Mocap prop maker, Performance capture unit
Mocap prop maker, Performance capture unit
Mocap prop maker, Performance capture unit
Const coord, Performance capture unit
Gen foreman, Performance capture unit
Labor foreman, Performance capture unit
Paint foreman, Performance capture unit
Propmaker foreman, Performance capture unit
Welder foreman, Performance capture unit
Propmaker gangboss, Performance capture unit
Propmaker gangboss, Performance capture unit
Welder gangboss, Performance capture unit
COSTUMES
Mocap cost suit supv, Performance capture unit
Key cost, Performance capture unit
Jim Carrey dresser, Performance capture unit
Set cost, Performance capture unit
Set cost, Performance capture unit
Cost, Performance capture unit
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond/Orch
Asst mus ed
Mus rec and mixed
Score coord
Mus contractor
Mus contractor
Choir rec
LA choir contractor
London choir contractor
Orch
Digital rec
Mus preparation
Fiddle performed by
SOUND
Sd des/Re-rec mixer, Skywalker Sound
Prod sd mixer, Performance capture unit
Boom op, Performance capture unit
Boom op, Performance capture unit
Boom op, Performance capture unit
Pro Tools, Performance capture unit
Post prod sd services by
Supv sd ed, Skywalker Sound
Re-rec mixer, Skywalker Sound
Re-rec mixer, Skywalker Sound
Addl re-rec mixing, Skywalker Sound
Supv dial/ADR ed, Skywalker Sound
ADR ed, Skywalker Sound
Sd eff ed, Skywalker Sound
Sd eff ed, Skywalker Sound
Sd eff ed, Skywalker Sound
Supv foley ed, Skywalker Sound
Foley ed, Skywalker Sound
Asst sd des, Skywalker Sound
Asst sd eff ed, Skywalker Sound
Prod intern, Skywalker Sound
Prod intern, Skywalker Sound
Foley artist, Skywalker Sound
Foley artist, Skywalker Sound
Foley mixer, Skywalker Sound
Foley rec, Skywalker Sound
Mix tech, Skywalker Sound
Digital transfer, Skywalker Sound
Digital transfer, Skywalker Sound
Rec, Skywalker Sound
ADR rec, Skywalker Sound
Loop group
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff supv
DFX supv
DFX supv
DFX supv
DFX supv
Digital prod
Digital prod
Motion capture supv
CG builds supv
CG supv
CG supv
CG supv
CG supv
DLO supv
Char rigging supv
Char fx supv
Surfacing supv
FX anim supv
Lighting supv
Compositing supv
DLO/Wheels artist
DLO/Wheels artist
DLO/Wheels artist
DLO/Wheels artist
DLO/Wheels TD
DLO/Wheels TD
DLO/Wheels TD
DLO/Wheels TD
DLO/Wheels APM
Matte dept supv
Matte artist
Matte artist
Matte artist
Matte artist
Matte artist
Matte artist
Matte artist
IMD prod mgr
IMD prod mgr
Motion capture lead
Motion capture lead
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Motion capture artist
Model lead
Model lead
Modeler
Modeler
Modeler
Modeler
Modeler
Modeler
Modeler
Modeler
Modeler
Modeler
Modeler
Modeler
Modeler
Modeler
Rigging lead
Rigging lead
Rigging lead
Character TD
Character TD
Character TD
Character TD
Character TD
Character TD
Character TD
Character TD
Character TD
Character TD
Texture artist
Texture artist
Texture artist
Texture artist
Texture artist
Texture artist
Texture artist
Texture artist
Texture artist
Texture artist
Look development TD
Look development TD
Look development TD
Look development TD
Look development TD
Look development TD
Look development TD
Look development TD
Look development TD
Look development TD
Scene layout lead
Scene layout lead
Scene layout TD
Scene layout TD
Scene layout TD
Scene layout TD
Scene layout TD
Scene layout TD
Scene layout TD
Scene layout TD
Scene layout TD
Char FX & simulation lead
Char FX & simulation lead
Char FX & simulation lead
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Char FX TD
Eff & crowds TD
Eff & crowds TD
Eff & crowds TD
Eff & crowds TD
Eff & crowds TD
Eff & crowds TD
Eff & crowds TD
Eff & crowds TD
Eff & crowds TD
Eff & crowds TD
Eff & crowds TD
Eff & crowds TD
Eff & crowds TD
Eff & crowds TD
Crowds lead
Lighting and compositing lead
Lighting and compositing lead
Lighting and compositing lead
Lighting and compositing lead
Lighting and compositing lead
Lighting and compositing lead
Lighting and compositing lead
Lighting and compositing lead
Lighting and compositing lead
Lighting and compositing lead
Lighting and compositing lead
Lighting and compositing lead
Lighting and compositing lead
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Lighting and compositing TD
Addl supv
Addl supv
Addl supv
Stereo supv
Stereo lead
Stereo lead
Stereo TD
Stereo TD
Shot finishing support
Shot finishing support
Shot finishing support
Shot finishing support
Shot finishing support
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology dept TD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Prod technology ATD
Addl IMD prod mgr
Head of tech development
Technical prod mgr
Technical project mgr
Technical project mgr
Technical project mgr
Addl technical development mgr
Technical development lead
Technical development lead
Technical development lead
Technical development lead
Technical development lead
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Software eng
Digital resource supv
Render technical asst
Render technical asst
Render technical asst
Render technical asst
Render technical asst
Render technical asst
Render technical asst
Render technical asst
Render technical asst
Render technical asst
Render technical asst
Head of systems and IT
Principal systems architect
Storage architect
Systems eng
Systems eng
Systems eng
Systems administrator
Systems administrator
Systems administrator
Systems administrator
Systems administrator
Systems administrator
Systems administrator
Systems administrator
Spec eff supv, Performance capture unit
Spec eff coord, Performance capture unit
Spec eff tech, Performance capture unit
Spec eff tech, Performance capture unit
End titles
DANCE
Choreog
Asst choreog, Performance capture unit
MAKEUP
Dept head make-up, Performance capture unit
Make-up des, Performance capture unit
Jim Carrey's make-up, Performance capture unit
Make-up arist, Performance capture unit
Make-up arist, Performance capture unit
Make-up arist, Performance capture unit
Make-up arist, Performance capture unit
Make-up arist, Performance capture unit
Hair des, Performance capture unit
Hair, Performance capture unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Addl casting
Addl casting
Prod controller
Post prod coord
Post prod asst
Res archivist
Prod dept mgr
Prod dept mgr
Prod dept mgr
Prod dept mgr
Prod dept mgr
Assoc prod dept mgr
Assoc prod dept mgr
Assoc prod dept mgr
Assoc prod dept mgr
Assoc prod dept mgr
Assoc prod dept mgr
Assoc prod dept mgr
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Head of HR & recruiting
Recruiting team
Recruiting team
Recruiting team
Recruiting team
Recruiting team
Recruiting team
Recruiting team
Recruiting team
Head of artistic development
Head of finance
Finance team
Finance team
Finance team
Finance team
Head of operations
Operations team
Operations team
Operations team
Operations team
Operations team
Operations team
Operations team
Operations team
IMD senior staff
IMD senior staff
IMD creative affairs
Scr supv, Performance capture unit
Digital registrar, Performance capture unit
Data inputer, Performance capture unit
Data inputer, Performance capture unit
HMC supv, Performance capture unit
Digital asset mgr, Performance capture unit
Mocap assoc prod, Performance capture unit
Mocap assoc prod mgr, Performance capture unit
Prod coord, Performance capture unit
APOC, Performance capture unit
APOC - Travel, Performance capture unit
APOC - Scanning, Performance capture unit
Prod secy, Performance capture unit
Prod asst, Performance capture unit
Prod asst, Performance capture unit
Prod asst, Performance capture unit
Prod asst, Performance capture unit
Prod asst, Performance capture unit
Prod asst, Performance capture unit
Prod asst, Performance capture unit
Prod asst, Performance capture unit
Casting assoc, Performance capture unit
Casting assoc, Performance capture unit
Casting asst, Performance capture unit
Unit pub, Performance capture unit
Dialect coach, Performance capture unit
1st asst accountant, Performance capture unit
2d asst accountant, Performance capture unit
2d asst accountant, Performance capture unit
Post accountant, Performance capture unit
Payroll accountant, Performance capture unit
Zulu team, Performance capture unit
Zulu team, Performance capture unit
Zulu team, Performance capture unit
Medic, Performance capture unit
Asst to Mr. Zemeckis, Performance capture unit
Asst to Mr. Zemeckis, Performance capture unit
P.A. to Mr. Zemeckis, Performance capture unit
P.A. to Mr. Zemeckis, Performance capture unit
Asst to Mr. Starkey, Performance capture unit
Asst to Mr. Starkey, Performance capture unit
Asst to Mr. Starkey, Performance capture unit
Asst to Mr. Rapke, Performance capture unit
Exec asst to Mr. Carrey, Performance capture unit
Support staff to Mr. Carrey, Performance capture u
Support staff to Mr. Carrey, Performance capture u
Asst to Mr. Hoskins, Performance capture unit
Asst to Mr. Boyd, Performance capture unit
Set prod asst, Performance capture unit
Set prod asst, Performance capture unit
Set prod asst, Performance capture unit
Set prod asst, Performance capture unit
Systems eng, Performance capture unit
Systems admin, Performance capture unit
IT helpdesk, Performance capture unit
Transportation consultant, Performance capture uni
Transportation capt, Performance capture unit
Transportation co-capt, Performance capture unit
Chef, Performance capture unit
Craft service, Performance capture unit
Security, Performance capture unit
Workstations, servers and tech services provided b
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Digital intermediate
DI colorist
DI colorist
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (London, 1843).
MUSIC
"Adeste Fideles," performed by Jordan Santamaria.
SONGS
"God Bless Us Everyone," written and produced by Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri, performed by Andrea Bocelli, courtesy of Sugar s.r.l.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
6 November 2009
Premiere Information:
Premiered 3 November 2009 in London, UK
Los Angeles and New York openings: 6 November 2009
Production Date:
began 25 February 2008 in Los Angeles, CA
Copyright Claimant:
ImageMovers Digital, LLC.
Copyright Date:
25 January 2010
Copyright Number:
PA1664304
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby® digital in selected theatres; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound® in selected theatres; dts®
Color
Animation
Prints
Domestic prints by Deluxe®; International prints by Technicolor®; Kodak Motion Picture Film
Duration(in mins):
96
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
45640
SYNOPSIS

On Christmas Eve in mid-nineteenth century London, England, Ebenezer Scrooge signs the death certificate of his partner, Jacob Marley, and walks through the wintry city streets scowling at carolers and children. Seven years later at his office, Scrooge is counting his money when his nephew, Fred, arrives to wish Scrooge good tidings. However, the older man calls Christmas “humbug” and claims that Fred should not celebrate because he is poor. When Fred argues that Christmas is a time for charity, Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Cratchit, applauds, but Scrooge threatens to terminate his employment. Although Fred invites Scrooge to Christmas dinner the next day, the old man sends him away. Two portly gentlemen arrive at the office to appeal for a charitable contribution, but Scrooge is unmoved. As Scrooge returns home, his front door knocker transforms into a ghostly apparition. Later, in his bedroom, Scrooge is frightened by Marley’s ghost, wrapped in weighted chains. Marley explains that the chains represent the problems that fettered him in life and warns Scrooge that he can expect the same curse when he dies. Disappearing into the night sky, which is fraught with plagued phantoms, Marley warns that Scrooge will be haunted by three spirits and suggests that he try to redeem himself. As the clock strikes one a.m., Scrooge is awakened by the Ghost of Christmas Past, whose head flickers like a candle. The spirit endows Scrooge with magical powers and the two fly into the past to observe Scrooge’s hometown. The ghost then shows Scrooge his old school, where Scrooge as a young boy sits alone on Christmas. On another ... +


On Christmas Eve in mid-nineteenth century London, England, Ebenezer Scrooge signs the death certificate of his partner, Jacob Marley, and walks through the wintry city streets scowling at carolers and children. Seven years later at his office, Scrooge is counting his money when his nephew, Fred, arrives to wish Scrooge good tidings. However, the older man calls Christmas “humbug” and claims that Fred should not celebrate because he is poor. When Fred argues that Christmas is a time for charity, Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Cratchit, applauds, but Scrooge threatens to terminate his employment. Although Fred invites Scrooge to Christmas dinner the next day, the old man sends him away. Two portly gentlemen arrive at the office to appeal for a charitable contribution, but Scrooge is unmoved. As Scrooge returns home, his front door knocker transforms into a ghostly apparition. Later, in his bedroom, Scrooge is frightened by Marley’s ghost, wrapped in weighted chains. Marley explains that the chains represent the problems that fettered him in life and warns Scrooge that he can expect the same curse when he dies. Disappearing into the night sky, which is fraught with plagued phantoms, Marley warns that Scrooge will be haunted by three spirits and suggests that he try to redeem himself. As the clock strikes one a.m., Scrooge is awakened by the Ghost of Christmas Past, whose head flickers like a candle. The spirit endows Scrooge with magical powers and the two fly into the past to observe Scrooge’s hometown. The ghost then shows Scrooge his old school, where Scrooge as a young boy sits alone on Christmas. On another Christmas several years later, Scrooge as a teenage boy is called home from school by his younger sister, Fan. Flying to Fezziwig’s business, where Scrooge as a young man served as an apprentice, the older Scrooge observes his younger self dancing on Christmas Eve with a beautiful young lady named Belle. Sometime later, Scrooge witnesses an argument between his younger self and Belle, who complains that Scrooge’s love of money has substituted his love for her and ends their relationship. In an effort to escape the painful memory, Scrooge extinguishes the candle of the Ghost of Christmas Past with a large metal snuffer, but the snuffer blasts into the sky with Scrooge clinging to its surface. As the snuffer disintegrates, Scrooge falls back to earth and lands on his bedroom floor. Hearing laughter, Scrooge wanders into his sitting room; the space is lit with Christmas decorations and the Ghost of Christmas Present sits on top of a Christmas tree. The robust spirit orders Scrooge to hold onto his robe’s belt and the floor of the room disappears. As Scrooge and the ghost fly over London, Scrooge observes different scenes of city dwellers and complains about the injustice of poverty. The spirit then shows Scrooge the impoverished home of Bob Cratchit, where young Tiny Tim, Cratchit’s son, will soon die because Cratchit cannot afford to pay for medical treatment with his meager wages. Although Cratchit toasts Scrooge with a cup of milk, Mrs. Cratchit complains that Scrooge is mean spirited and stingy. When Scrooge begs the spirit to spare Tiny Tim’s life, the Ghost of Christmas Present repeats the words Scrooge uttered to the portly gentlemen who requested a charitable contribution the previous day. Scrooge is then whisked away to Fred’s home and sees his nephew playing a guessing game with his guests. Fred reveals that he is thinking of an animal that lives in London and when a reveler asks if the animal is an ass, Fred replies “yes and no.” Another guest correctly concludes that Fred is thinking of Scrooge and the crowd erupts with laughter, but Fred pities his uncle and proposes a toast in his honor. The Ghost of Christmas Present then takes Scrooge into a clock tower and reveals two starving children hiding beneath his robe, a boy named Ignorance and a girl named Want. As the clock strikes twelve, the spirit transforms into a skeleton and warns Scrooge to heed Ignorance and Want. When the Ghost of Christmas Past disappears, Scrooge sees a foreboding shadow cast from his own body and kneels in prayer, asking if the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come has arrived. As Scrooge admits that he fears the spirit of the future most of all, the shadow pushes Scrooge down the staircase of a public building. Landing on the street, Scrooge overhears his former associates discussing his death and laughing that no one will attend his funeral. Scrooge is then chased by a black, horse-drawn carriage and shrinks to a miniature version of himself. Although he falls into a gutter and escapes, Scrooge finds himself in the home of his house servant, Mrs. Dilber, who has stolen his curtains and clothes in the wake of his death. Mrs. Dilber explains to her companion, Old Joe, that Scrooge suffered alone as he died. When Old Joe sees a rat next to Scrooge and runs after it with a fire poker, Scrooge is ejected from the house and finds himself at his own deathbed. He tells the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come that he finally understands his lot and returns to his original size, but he asks the spirit if anyone has mourned his death. Back at the Cratchit house, Scrooge stands on the stairway and witnesses the family grieve the death of Tiny Tim. As Cratchit heads upstairs, he stops for a moment in front of his employer and Scrooge utters the man’s first name, but Cratchit walks through him. Scrooge is then whisked away to a cemetery, where the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come points to a gravestone covered in snow. As Scrooge begins to decipher his own name and date of birth on the grave marker, he promises to be a better man in the hope of altering his fate. Although his death date is reveled as 25 December, the year is still obscured by snow as Scrooge slips into the grave. Clinging to a root, Scrooge vows that he will always honor Christmas and the lessons of his past, present and future. Releasing his grasp, Scrooge falls into the grave, but he lands back in his bedroom on Christmas morning. Thrilled to be alive, Scrooge instructs a neighborhood boy to buy a turkey for Cratchit. After frightening Mrs. Dilber with his new good spirits, Scrooge heads outside and promises a sizeable contribution to one of the portly men who came to his office the previous afternoon. Scrooge then visits Fred’s home and overhears the same guessing game that he witnessed with the Ghost of Christmas Present, but instead of being mocked, he is warmly welcomed to dinner. The next morning, Cratchit rushes into work sixteen minutes late, but Scrooge surprises his clerk by giving him a raise and promising to help his family. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.