Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas Movie Marathon Day 10

          I'm trying something different to get in the holiday spirit this year. Every day, from now through Christmas, I will be watching a different Christmas movie or television special. I have compiled the list of features ahead of time and am drawing one, at random, from my Christmas stocking everyday to determine what gets watched. Thank you for joining me in this endeavor. Hard to believe that we are already so far in to this project. Let's find out what the tenth pick is.

Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)

           Mickey's Christmas Carol represents another special that was once a common part of my holiday season but has since fallen by the wayside. Mickey's Christmas Carol was originally produced as a theatrical short that ran in front of The Rescuers in December of 1983. This short represented the first appearance of Mickey in a theatrical short in 30 years. For those of you keeping score at home, I obviously couldn't have seen this in theaters. For me this feature entered my life in two ways. One was a hand-me-down Children's Golden Book adaptation. The other is that years later the special became a holiday staple on the 1980s NBC Disney anthology series, The Magical World of Disney.
           Television airings are the way I have always experienced this feature. This viewing will be the first time that I will see it sans commercials. I have been looking forward to drawing this one from the stocking as it is the way I was first introduced to A Christmas Carol, which in intervening years has become one of my favorite holiday stories. Will I enjoy it as much as I used to, or will this be another feature that can't compare to the memories I have of it? I am beginning to realize that I am playing a dangerous game of nostalgia chicken by doing this project. Shall we find out if it blows up in my face?


           Mickey's Christmas Carol is the first of three picks that are based on A Christmas Carol to a greater or lesser degree. While it would be possible for me to do a point by point synopsis of this feature, I don't feel like this is worth while. It is a faithful adaptation of A Christmas Carol and, if you don't know how that story goes, quit reading this blog and read that book. Assuming that I haven't misjudged and that I still have readers, what I will be looking at instead are some of the choices that Disney made in making this adaptation.

Goofy has always struck me as an odd choice for Jacob Marley in both design and personality.

           The feature is only 26 minutes in length so most of the relevant changes are simply for the sake of its runtime. The sequences with the Ghost of Christmas Past and the Ghost of Christmas Present (portrayed by Jiminy Cricket and Willie the Giant, respectively) are the ones that get abbreviated the most. The only part of Scrooge's (portrayed by Scrooge McDuck, obviously) past that gets shown in his travels with the Ghost of Christmas Past is the part that relates to his failed relationship with Isabelle (Daisy Duck). Likewise, the only sequence of Christmas present that we view is the visit to the residence of Bob Cratchit (Mickey Mouse). We don't see the celebration at Fred's (Donald Duck) or any of the other revelry. We only see the moment of fear at the fate of Tiny Tim. The section that seems the least condensed is Scrooge's time with the Ghost of Christmas Future. The only thing not punctuated as strongly as it is in the book is Scrooge's sadness and dismay over how roughly people speak of him after his passing. The closing sequence on Christmas day features few edits, mostly there is simply less shock over the Ghosts doing everything in a single night.

Pete doesn't make the most terrifying Ghost of Christmas Future but he is effective enough.

Final Thoughts

           As stated earlier, A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite holiday stories so I am pretty critical when it comes to adaptations of it. To this end there are some things that I find problematic. For one the Scrooge McDuck's Scrooge never feels quite as heartless as he should. Many of what should be his most cruel lines are delivered with a knowing wink or laugh that serves to undercut their impact. Further, one also fails to really get an idea of how badly Bob Cratchit is suffering. This is partly because we spend so little time with him and partly because, save for refusing to allow Cratchit to use a lump of coal, we only see Scrooge grant Cratchit a half day off and allow him to leave two minutes early. Not exactly the crushing weight Cratchit is meant to bear.
           In spite of these deficiencies, I feel that Mickey's Christmas Carol still holds up quite well. While most of my issues with it can be traced to its shortened run time this can paradoxically also be one of its strengths. There are times when you may want a fix of A Christmas Carol this holiday season but don't have the time to read the book, nor watch one of the full theatrical versions. In moments like those, Mickey's Christmas Carol can serve admirably. It is a competent adaptation of A Christmas Carol fit into a bite-sized package. As a bonus, the releases of it to DVD and Blu-Ray come bundled with other Disney Christmas features so adding it to your holiday viewing collection gives you other quick seasonal viewing at the same time. I don't have much more to say about Mickey's Christmas Carol. Worth a watch if you happen upon it. Will I be watching another version of A Christmas Carol tomorrow? Join me then to find out.

Mickey's Christmas Carol does know a good shot to end on when it sees it.

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