Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Disney does Dickens ... again

With Christmas still a month away, it seems Hollywood movie producers simply couldn't wait to present moviegoers with a little gift before the holiday season began, with Disney's release of A Christmas Carol.

This 3-D animated feature is an adaptation of Charles Dickens' famous book of the same title, widely regarded as one of the greatest Christmas stories ever told and traditionally enjoyed by millions each year during the holiday season.

A Christmas Carol, first self-published by Charles Dickens in 1843, tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a conservative and individualistic financier, who has devoted his life to business and making money. The social perspective of the story and its portrait of Christmas traditions have played a big role in reinventing Christmas, with an emphasis on families and friendship.

In his miserly outlook, Scrooge (Jim Carrey in this version) forgoes friendship, love and the Christmas spirit itself. His obsession sees him becoming a cold-hearted and greedy man, who despises Christmas and all things related to charity, fun and happiness.

The feature begins seven years after the death of Scrooge's business partner Jacob Marley (Gary Oldman). One night, the ghost of Marley visits Scrooge, warning him his soul will bear heavy chains for eternity if he does not change his ways, and to tell him another three spirits will visit him.

The first of these is the Ghost of Christmas Past, who takes Scrooge back to his childhood and shows the old man his tender side.

The second, the Ghost of Christmas Present, takes him to the home of his nephew, Fred (Colin Firth), to take a look at Fred's middle-class social life, and then to observe the modest life of his clerk, Bob Cratchit, during his family's Christmas dinner.

In this scene, Scrooge is touched when he sees the high spirits of the disabled Tiny Tim.

The third, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, gives Scrooge visions of a future if he does not learn and change his behavior. One of the visions is that Tiny Tim will die.

The 96-minute feature is beautifully directed by Robert Zemeckis, with a similar technique to that he employed in animated films such as The Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007).

Thumbs up also for Jim Carrey for taking on a multitude of roles in the film, including as young, middle-aged, and elderly Ebenezer Scrooge, and as the three ghosts that haunt him - grappling with different "ye olde" accents for each.

Hollywood star Gary Oldman also plays three characters (as Bob Cratchit, Marley's Ghost and Tiny Tim), and Robin Wright Penn plays Belle and Fan.

The optional 3-D feature comes highly recommended, as this adds to the intimacy of the story with its graphic depictions of the three spirits, and gives moviegoers a fuller experience of Disney's Dickensian England - sliding down rooftops and flying over chimneys and through forests.

Adding to a long list of films based on A Cristmas Carol, including three by Disney in the past 26 years, and Jim Carrey's past role as The Grinch who stole Christmas, Zemeckis has done well to give his own take on Dickens' imagination, adding new dimensions to the tale.

However, think twice before taking your kids watch this one if they're a bit sensitive, as some of its scenes could have them jumping out of their seats.

Three out of five stars.

A Christmas Carol (Walt Disney Pictures, 96 minutes)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Produced by Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey & Robert Zemeckis
Written by Robert Zemeckis based on the novel by Charles Dickens
Starring: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes, Colin Firth & Robin Wright Penn

Source :The Jakarta Post

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