Christmas Carol (2001) – movie review

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Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger

Starring (the voices of): Simon Callow, Kate Winslet, Nicolas Cage, Jane Horrocks
Director: Jimmy T Murakami

This version of Charles Dicken’s CHRISTMAS CAROL is an animated adaption – a sombre tale about one Ebenezer Scrooge (Simon Callow) and how his miserly ways dictate his whole outlook on life. His business involves buying up unfortunate peoples’ debts then he calls in his bailiff Joe (Robert Llewellyn) and his unscrupulous team, who arrange for the debtors to be incarcerated in the debtors jail while they remove everything of value the debtors possessed to recoup as much money/profit for Scrooge, who then of course pays Joe for his work.

The tale is helped along by the antics of two mice called Gabriel and Ellen, and along with the ghost of Jacob Marley (Nicolas Cage) his deceased business partner, Ghost of Christmas Past (Jane Horrocks) and Ghost of Christmas Present (Michael Gambon) they try to help show Ebenezer Scrooge the error of his ways and what will become of him.

Kate Winslet stars as the voice of Belle, a nurse who was once on the point of marrying Scrooge and a friend of Scrooge’s sister Fan but he ruined both of those relationships. Now Belle finds herself in desperate straits caught up in her employer’s debt crisis. Working for a doctor who tends the sick, especially ill children, he charitably accepts fees for treatment depending on what his patients can afford if anything and ultimately lands himself in debt. Flung into jail by Joe, Belle wrties a letter to Scrooge pleading with him to find it in his heart to show compassion and leniency towards the doctor.

Thus the scene is set and after Scrooge has eventually let Bob Cratchit (Rhys Ifans) go home to his wife (Juliet Stevenson) and family and comfort his sick son, Scrooge retires to bed along with the friendly mice Gabriel and Ellen. But sleep eludes Scrooge as Jacob Marley pervades his dreams and becomes the start of a frightening nightmare.

I took my son along who only just four was a bit scared by the graphic visions conjured up by the ghosts as they attempt to enlighten Scrooge. As soon as the music changed and became more menacing his hands promptly shot up to cover his ears! In that respect the movie will probably appeal to slightly older children.

The two mice definitely brought some light relief to the story. Their comic escapades throughout the movie when they accompany Scrooge on his frightening journey to rediscover his better self amused the kids and helped keep their attention. I found the movie a little less inspiring and attention grabbing than the children in the audience but on the whole this was a well made version and in the spirit of Christmas it is worth the effort to brave the winter weather and venture outside to your nearest cinema to see it!

3 out of 6 stars