Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Tony Ail, Nathan Aswell, Chera Bailey, Kathleen Barr, Lillian Carlson
Director: Toshiyuki Hiruma Takashi
Release Date: 1994
Length: 49 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
A Christmas Carol, produced by Jetlag Productions in the year 1994 and released on DVD format by Goodtimes Entertainment in 2003, is based on Charles Dickens’s timeless Christmas story, “A Christmas Carol“. This animated tale relays the story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s experiences with three ghosts on Christmas Eve that transformed his life from a mean, miserly man to a man of generous spirit.
I am a huge fan of A Christmas Carol and make an effort to watch as many different versions of the story every Christmas season. I found this one available to watch online on Hulu.com and gave it a go. I confess that I was disappointed with this version. I am accustomed to watching full-length movie versions of A Christmas Carol and this animated version is about half of the time, but with almost all of the story. Needless to say, the story is quite rushed and a lot of details and character development are left out. Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, is introduced at the beginning of the story and then we don’t see him again until the end, when Scrooge attends Christmas dinner there. Scrooge does not visit Fred’s part with the Ghost of Christmas Present. Also, during the Ghost of Christmas Present segment, we are barely introduced to Tiny Tim and it does not really make sense when we are shown his grave at the end of the film. The Ghost of Christmas Past shows Ebenezer breaking up with his long-time fiancé, Belle, but we do not meet her at Fezziwig’s party and we never even learn her name in this version. The story is strung together with the same familiar quotes and scenes that you will enjoy in other versions of A Christmas Carol, but they are so abbreviated here that I did not find myself caring about Scrooge’s transformation at all. There was no depth and no real emotion contained in this version.
I was a bit disappointed with the animation and vocal talents, as well. The colors are flat and there are many dark scenes, as suits Victorian London, but there are no interesting details and shading to make it visually appealing. Most characters and backgrounds are flat, solid colors and do not really seem alive. I also did not enjoy the vocal stylings of this animated feature. Ebenezer Scrooge’s voice is particularly grating. There was just something about the way he talked that really bothered me. Also, they wrote in a lot of whiney lines for Scrooge’s character and he sounds like a spoiled 2-year-old at times. “I don’t want to go,” and “you can’t make me” actually feature into the dialogue, which I felt was going a bit too far. The Ghost of Christmas Past has a deep, lovely voice, but he is this short little old guy in the cartoon and I didn’t think that the voice fit the character. And don’t even get me started on the younger Ebenezer Scrooge! I don’t know if they had the main vocal try to “sound younger,” but it was as high-pitched as a girl’s and did nothing to aid the scene between Scrooge and his younger sister.
There are three songs included, but they are more of a detraction than a help. I enjoyed the first song more than the other, rather sickly sweet efforts, but it is because it was so strange that I liked it! The singer reminded me of David Bowie in one of his earlier songs and, as this is sung during Marley’s appearances, it really didn’t fit the setting at all. The other songs were so inconsequential as to be completely forgettable. Unfortunately, the music did not do anything to add to the quality of this production.
I feel that the creators of this version were trying to introduce this familiar classic to a younger audience and so they purposefully kept it short and to the point, but I did not enjoy it as much. This particular version is created with a Christian background in mind, but I did not notice anything that they changed or added to make it more appealing to a Christian audience. If you are looking for an animated version of A Christmas Carol for a younger audience, Mickey’s Christmas Carol gives a nice introduction in less than 30 minutes that is entertaining, well-animated and has lovely music. If you have children that are a little older, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol has some very funny scenes and some excellent music and still comes in at under an hour. Both of these versions are crowd pleasers for old and young alike and tell the entire story of Scrooge’s transformation in a much more appealing way.
This cartoon features ghosts in chains, graveyard scenes and a ghost that looks like a skeleton. Recommended for ages 7 and up.