Film Festival: Christmas classics
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) is a great version of the Dickens’ Christmas ghost story of Scrooge and Tiny Tim. This faithful adaptation uses the Muppets cast to great effect with Michael Caine as a very believable Scrooge.
The Charles Dickens novella was published in 1843 and is given credit for leading to the Victorians embrace of a festive Christmas. A Christmas Carol has been adapted for the screen many times. The Muppets are so great for conveying the ghost and fantasy aspects of the story and the injection of their humor helps make the story in The Muppet Christmas Carol more approachable. Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Rizzo, and Statler and Waldorf have starring roles in The Muppet Christmas Carol.
“There goes Mr. Humbug / There goes Mr. Grim / If they gave a prize for being mean / The winner would be him!” –Muppets
Ebenezer Scrooge has inherited his business from his partners, the Marley Brothers, who died 7 years previously. He seems to delight in evicting people who can’t pay their rents. He is very stingy with the coal to keep his large set of bookkeepers warm. Bob Cratchit (Kermit) is the head bookkeeper.
Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, comes to visit him to wish him a Merry Christmas, bring him a holly wreath, and invite him to Christmas dinner with his new wife. Scrooge thinks all Christmas is a humbug and won’t be kind to his nephew.
Two gentlemen arrive to ask for charity donations for the poor. Fred gladly gives what little he has in his pocket, while Scrooge insists the poor are taken care of by the poorhouses and prisons.
Bob and the other clerks make a little merry when they are released for the evening and Christmas day. Bob goes ice sliding with the neighborhood penguins.
“There’s something in the wind today / that’s good for everyone / Yes faith is in our hearts today/ We’re shining like the sun / And everyone can feel it / The feeling’s running deep / After all, there’s only one more sleep ’til Christmas” –Bob Cratchit
Scrooge goes home to his old dark house and imagines the doorknocker is Jacob Marley’s face. He eats a bit of bread and cheese before a tiny fire. Bells start ringing, the fire goes out, and smoke rises from the staircase. The spirits of Jacob and Robert Marley fly up the stairs, wrapped in chains.
“You may be a bit of undigested beef, a blob of mustard, a crumb of cheese. Yes, there’s more of gravy than of grave about you.” –Ebenezer
The brothers have come to warn Scrooge of his fate if his life continues as is. They tell him of 3 ghosts that will visit in the night.
“We’re Marley and Marley … doomed Scrooge, you’re doomed for all time … your chains are forged by what you say and do.” –Jacob and Robert
The first ghost is beautiful like a fairy candle flame. Her job is to reveal Scrooge’s past and she begins by taking him, by flying, to his old boarding school. All the friends are packing for Christmas holiday, but poor Scrooge never gets to go home. After many years, headmaster tells him he will be apprenticed to a businessman in London.
The businessman is Fozziwig. He runs an old rubber chicken factory. The ghost and Scrooge arrive in time for the beloved Fozziwig Christmas party. There is good will, dancing, food and most important, Scrooge meets Belle, the love of his life.
Scrooge keeps putting off his wedding to Belle because his financial situation isn’t good enough. Belle thinks he cares more for money than life with her and releases him from their engagement.
“The love is gone, the love is gone / the sweetest dream that you have ever known / and now he’s gone / the love is gone / I wish you well, but I must leave you now alone” –Belle
When the clock strikes two, Ebenezer’s rooms are filled with light and foods of all kinds. A giant ghost is there, the Ghost of Christmas Present. He takes Scrooge out into the streets.
“It’s in the singing of a street corner choir / It’s going home and getting warm by the fire / It’s true wherever you find love / it feels like Christmas!” –Ghost of Christmas Past
They start at Fred’s house for the Christmas party where they are making fun of Scrooge. The next stop is Bob Cratchit’s house. Emily Cratchit (Miss Piggy) is preparing the best Christmas feast she can with her children.
“‘Tis the season to be jolly and joyous / With a burst of pleasure we see it arrive / It’s a season the saints can employ us / To spread the news about peace and to keep it alive!” –Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit
The family shares the feast and enjoys it tremendously. When Bob tries to toast Scrooge, there is a shadow.
“The founder of the feast indeed! If I had him here I would give him a piece of my mind to feast upon and I bet he would choke on it! …he is odious, stingy, wicked, and unfeeling, and badly dressed! …He’ll be very merry and happy this day, I have no doubt.” –Emily Cratchit
“Bless us all who gather here / The loving family I hold dear / No place on earth compares with home / And every path will bring me back from where I roam” – Tiny Tim and the Cratchits.
Christmas Present leaves Scrooge in a churchyard to meet a huge dark Phantom, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. He sees businessmen discussing a death and funeral. A rag and bone man is dealing with a dead man’s belongings brought by the charwoman, the laundress, and the undertaker. At the Cratchits, Tiny Tim has died.
The terrible ghost shows Scrooge a gravestone. As he cries, he wakes up in his room and it’s morning.
Scrooge pays a little boy to go buy a huge turkey to deliver to Bob Cratchit. He joyously goes into the streets and prepares gifts for his staff and Fred and Clara.
“With a thankful heart that is wide awake / I do make this promise / Every breath I take / Will be used now to sing your praise / Beg you to share my days / With a loving guarantee / That even if we part / I will hold you close in a thankful heart!” –Ebenezer Scrooge
Scrooge goes to Cratchit’s house to scare him and then shower the family with gifts.
The Muppet Christmas Carol songs by Paul Williams are very memorable and get you in the Christmas spirit. Add The Muppet Christmas Carol to your list of Christmas Scrooges!
Resource links for The Muppet Christmas Carol
- The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) at IMDb
- Charles Dickens links from The Victorian Web
- A Christmas Carol from Project Gutenberg
- The Official Website of Sir Michael Caine
- The Hensen Timeline from Muppet Central
- Paul Williams official website
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