A Christmas Carol (1910):
Review by
William Mortensen Vaughan
As of: 10:25 a.m. E.S.T., Monday, April 10, 2017

A Christmas Carol (1910)
Title:   A Christmas Carol

My Rating:  **

Adaptation: Produced by the [Thomas] Edison Film Manufacturing Corporation, starring
Marc McDermott as Ebenezer Scrooge

Date Released: Friday, December 23, 1910

Format Reviewed: live-action, 11-minute, black and white, "silent" film, on DVD

Is this adaptation reverent?: Yes, this adaptation is reverent; instrumental versions of hymns are played as background music.

Does it include the phrase, "God bless us..."? No.

What does my wife think of it? She thinks it's creepy. She's not fond of silent films, since most, if not all of the actors seen in them, have passed away.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens? This adaptation does not follow the original novel very closely, and a lot of what's going on is left to the viewer's imagination and/or recollection of the events related in the novel, since this film is "silent," without the benefit of any audible dialogue.

Instrumental versions of Christmas carols are played as background music, as the action progresses. Occasionally, the camera cuts to a black screen with words in white letters, which indicate crucial concepts the editor wanted to highlight.

The first song is "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen!" While this plays, Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit (Charles Ogle) receive three men (instead of two) from the Charity Relief Committee, before (instead of after) a visit from Fred, who is accompanied by another man and two women.

Scrooge kicks his visitors out, then sends Bob home.

Then he goes home and sees Marley's face in place of his doorknocker.

Marley's ghost visits him inside. Marley appears translucent.

Then the Spirit of Christmas appears, in a robe trimmed with white.

The "Carol of the Bells" is heard next, as the Ghost of Christmas shows Scrooge his childhood, when Fan visits him at school; his apprenticeship to Mr. Fezziwig; Mr. Fezziwig's Christmas Ball; and Scrooge's fiancee breaking off their engagement.

The third song is "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," during which the Ghost of Christmas shows Bob Cratchit and his family toasting everyone, including Mr. Scrooge.

In an unusual departure from Dickens' story line, Scrooge sees his nephew rejected for want of money, apparently by the girl he's in love with.

Want and Misery are also shown, reaching up to Scrooge from the bottom of the screen or frame.

Then another Ghost of Christmas, dressed more like a bride in a long veil, shows Scrooge a hag watching his death throes on his bed; she takes his ring as soon as he lies still.

The next song is the "Coventry Carol," during which Scrooge sees his own his tombstone, which bears the inscription:

"Ebenezer Scrooge lived and died without a friend."

A Christmas carol wakes Scrooge up on Christmas morning; as five children sing outside his window. He opens the window and tosses money from his pocket out to them.

"Deck the Halls" is the final song. Which this song plays, Scrooge goes outside to a street corner, where Fred enters a building. There the three members of the Charity Relief Commttee encounter Scrooge, who gives them money from his pocket.

They leave, and out comes Fred, with a young woman.

Scrooge hands him a note. A close-up of the note allows the viewer to see that Scrooge is making Fred his business partner, so he'll be rich enough to marry any girl he chooses. The girl who is with Fred hugs Scrooge.

Then Scrooge takes the young couple to the Cratchit residence, where he gives Bob, his wife, and six children, a basket full of gifts, including a large bird for their Christmas dinner.

What dialect is used? (Not applicable)

When and where does this adaptation take place? Victorian London.

Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel? No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? Yes, this adaptation is supernatural, featuring two or three ghosts.

Is this adaptation "framed"? No.

What original musical numbers and/or dance routines are included? There are no dance routines or vocals, just instrumental versions of Christmas carols for background music.

How attractive is the visual art? The set, wardrobe, and architecture are adequate, although the lighting, acting, and editing are poor.

How creative and instense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another? The transitions are adequate; the ghosts gesture, and translucent, animated images appear. The only noticeable special effect is double exposure.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation? The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, that Scrooge makes Fred a partner in his firm so that he'll be rich enough to marry any girl he wants, which shows a sexist aspect not in the original novel. In the novel, Fred is already married, even though Scrooge considered him poor and unwise for having married a woman merely because he fell in love with her.

What extras are included on the DVD? No special features are available on the DVD.

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