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Top 10 Best Adaptations of A Christmas Carol

VO: Emily Brayton
Script written by Mark Sammut Here are the Top 10 Best Adaptations of A Christmas Carol! For this list, we’re looking at the best TV and movies based on the famous 1843 novel by Charles Dickens. The overall quality of the adaptation will be given priority, and not whether it sticks close to the source material. We’ve included Doctor Who’s ‘A Christmas Carol, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, Scrooged, The Muppet Christmas Carol and A Christmas Carol” [aka “Scrooge”]

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Top 10 Best Adaptations of A Christmas Carol

It’s all about humbugs, ghosts, and the Christmas spirit. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Adaptations of A Christmas Carol.

For this list, we’re looking at the best TV and movies based on the famous 1843 novel by Charles Dickens. The overall quality of the adaptation will be given priority, and not whether it sticks close to the source material.

#10: “A Christmas Carol” (2009)

In this early 21st century adaptation, Robert Zemeckis combined his fascination with 3D motion capture animation with the classic Christmas story. Starring Jim Carrey in multiple roles as Ebenezer Scrooge and the three Ghosts, 2009’s A Christmas Carol sticks pretty close to the novel and even keeps the original dialogue, while greatly upping the visual splendor and humor. This eccentric Christmas adventure received mixed reviews upon release as not everyone reacted fondly to the animation style. Yet, the narrative still maintains much of the original story’s heart, depth, and Christmas magic.

#9: “Doctor Who’s ‘A Christmas Carol’” (2010)

With time and space at his fingertips, it was more a matter of when rather than if the Doctor got around to adapting Dickens’ classic. This quirky and creative holiday special happened during Matt Smith’s tenure as the title character, with BBC casting Michael Gambon in the role of Scrooge – although the character’s name is changed to Kazran Sardick. An emotional roller coaster, the episode sees The Doctor filling in for the three Ghosts, as he tries to mend Sardick’s broken heart to save a ship from a storm. Oh, did we forget to mention that Scrooge can control the weather in this adaptation?

#8: “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” (1983)

Disney and Dickens seem like a match made in heaven, and they came together to create this enjoyable Christmas short. Marking Mickey’s first cinema appearance in over three decades, this colorful adaptation plays it surprisingly straight, with only minor diversions from the source material. With our main mouse as the underused Bob Cratchit, Scrooge McDuck is of course Ebenezer Scrooge – a role he was created to play – with fan favorites Goofy, Jiminy Cricket, and Pete also making appearances. Nominated for an Academy Award, this magical short offers fun for the whole family.

#7: “Blackadder’s Christmas Carol” (1988)

Leave it to Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis, and Ben Elton to deliver a fantastic parody of Dickens' story. Blackadder is the proprietor of a Victorian mustache shop and the nicest man in England. Despite being rather successful, this anti-Scrooge is always broke due to donating most of his earnings to charities. The Ghost actually visits Blackadder to congratulate him on being an upstanding human being, before setting out on a journey through time to visit his evil ancestors. Featuring that biting sarcastic wit that the series is known for, this twisted Christmas Carol is hilarious for all the right – or wrong – reasons.

#6: “Scrooge” (1970)

The only one to feature a trip through hell, this award-winning adaptation turned Dickens’ story into a musical. Despite the occasional moment of madness, Scrooge sticks pretty close to the source material, with Albert Finney hamming it up as the pivotal character. While those who love a good song and dance might appreciate the multiple unique musical numbers, its impressive costumes, sets, and cast create an experience worth watching for everyone. Depending on whom you ask, the infamous hell scene is one of the best or worst Christmas sequences of all time.

#5: “A Christmas Carol” (1984)

A TV classic, this adaptation is mostly remembered for George C. Scott’s memorable depiction of Ebenezer Scrooge. Backed by an impressive cast, which includes Frank Finlay as Marley’s Ghost, this version is rather slow paced compared to some of the others. Scott brings a manic quality to his performance, however, as this Scrooge does not settle on merely ignoring the holiday season. Due to how mean-spirited he initially is, Ebenezer’s spiritual journey ends up being all that more rewarding. Filled with religious imagery, Scott’s portrayal earned him a nomination for a Primetime Emmy.

#4: “A Christmas Carol” (1938)

We’re really reaching back with this one. Arguably one of the most influential film versions, Edwin L. Marin’s take might lack for memorable ghosts, but makes up for it with a solid supporting cast. While the whole point of Scrooge is to show how a lifetime of disappointment and loneliness turned him into a villain, few performances have demonstrated the broken man within as endearingly as this early adaptation. Shifting focus towards the side-characters and their relationships with Scrooge, this adaptation might not hold too many surprises, but its status as a classic is well deserved.

#3: “Scrooged” (1988)

Bill Murray as Scrooge – do we really need to say anything more? Frank Cross is a network executive who cares only about the ratings and is struggling to put on a live adaptation of “A Christmas Carol.” After being visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, Murray is sent on a trip through Dickens’ famous story, with each new Ghost just upping the insanity. The best part is how Frank’s crazy story is juxtaposed with the rehearsal of the stage show, which is about as traditional as they come.

#2: “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992)

A staple of most childhoods, this classic was a landmark release as it showed the Muppets still had a future following the unfortunate deaths of Jim Henson and Richard Hunt. Despite being very much made for kids, the movie has Michael Caine playing it straight as Ebenezer Scrooge, which helps ground the more over-the-top portrayals of the popular puppets. Although not the first film to turn this classic into a musical, “The Muppet Christmas Carol” is probably the most fondly remembered, as songs like “Marley and Marley” and “One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas” are ingrained in our collective consciousness.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
• “A Christmas Carol” (1971)
• “A Christmas Carol” (1999)
• “A Flintstones Christmas Carol” (1994)

#1: “A Christmas Carol” [aka “Scrooge”] (1951)

It’s the defining version of the Christmas classic and one that continues to stand the test of time. Throughout the years, we have seen some truly villainous depictions of Scrooge, but Dickens’ original was more indifferent than sinister, something captured brilliantly by Alastair Sim’s nuanced performance. An argument could be made that the movie improves on the original novel, by expanding on Scrooge’s childhood and relationship with his parents. The almost unsettling depiction of loneliness makes the eventual redemption sequence an absolute joy to behold, as Sim abandons subtlety and wholeheartedly embraces the Christmas spirit.

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