A Christmas Carol: Ghost Or Horror Story?

Observatory, The Arts

Judging by the new version of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, it’s a horror story. Once again, director Robert Zemeckis has opted for motion capture or performance capture as it now seems to be called, providing viewers with creepy Madame Tussauds-style mannequins instead of actors. The dead eyes and exaggerated features recall victorian caricatures, but the lifeless jiggling of these puppets merely frightens and repels. It seems you can’t duplicate the light of the soul on a computer. Perhaps this version should be known as the Frankenstein Christmas Carol…

12 comments on “A Christmas Carol: Ghost Or Horror Story?”

  1. Steve says:

    “Polar Express” was creepy enough; I can’t imagine the horrible treatment done here of Dickens. Don’t intend to see it as it’s one of my favorite stories of all time. Best ever, Alastair Sim, 1951.

  2. Michelle Thomas says:

    We saw the posters for Christmas Carol in France, where they have renamed it La Drole de Scrooge (or similar), thus clearly aiming for the hilarious family comedy sell. Weird.

    Hope you’re well,

    Michelle xx

  3. I.A.M. says:

    Close 2nd: Bill Murray’s version (complete with one of the hippest street bands ever in a film, blink and you’ll miss it).

    I agree about giving this one a miss. The responsibility for Jim Carrey isn’t something we’re really vocal about in Canada, though. He’s a bit like Celine Dion that way. We keep try to offer them both away but no-one ever is willing to accept them…

  4. Mike Cane says:

    >>>the lifeless jiggling of these puppets

    I hope you wouldn’t say that about Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation! I would have to disown you!

    Yes, CGI can be a disaster — witness New Captain Scarlet too. Only Pixar seems to be able to get it right. And seemingly immortally so. The Incredibles still makes my jaw drop and eyes pop every time I see it.

  5. Well, the world was in dire need of an adaptation of Christmas Carol. There are only several hundred of them, already, starring Alastair Sim, Mickey Mouse, Mr Magoo or the Muppets.

    The problem so far with Zemeckis’ attempts at so-called life-like imagery is that he burns through vast amounts of money and efforts to reach (so far with no real success) the level most other films start from. And his films lack the human touch, smothered as it is by an obsession with the technical issues. A triumph of surface over art.

    Polar Express was creepy, this looks obnoxious and faintly repellent. I suppose it counts as some sort of progress. Worse yet, he plans on making next a remake/sequel to Roger Rabbit with the same technique.

    But what makes me despair most is that this ugly movie is probably going to perform well at the box office.

  6. Adam Siviter says:

    I like the Muppet’s Christmas Carol, and so does my 4 year old daughter!

  7. Helen Martin says:

    How could they remake Roger Rabbit? It is about cartoon characters – and they are obviously so- with some real people – also obviously so – and the contrast has to be there. I hope the financing falls apart for this effort – either that or everyone boycotts it. Faint chance of that.

  8. I.A.M. says:

    I will personally punch Robert Zemeckis in the nose if he does that. Daft. One can imagine Roger having the face and voice of Jim Carrey, and Tom Hanks playing the detective. Besides, it wasn’t that long ago was it? What’s next; a re-make of the re-make of I, Robot? A re-make of the re-make of The Fugitive? A remake of one of the Indiana Jones films? Hang on, that was what the fourth film was, wasn’t it?

  9. From the details I’ve read, Roger Rabbit will still be animated in 2D, but Bob Hoskins would come back to get animated in shiny plastic pseudo-life.

    As for remakes, there’s a wave of 80’s films remakes/sequels looming on the horizon. One of the more pointless ones is going to be Robocop, IMHO.

  10. I.A.M. says:

    …Robocop? Really? But…

    [sighs, shakes head, gives up all hope for anything actually creative happening in cinema ever again]

  11. David Read says:

    I thought after the appalling Robocop 4 (John Castle aside, what was he doing in that???) that franchise was over!

    Remakes, good old John Carpenter must be wondering what is going on at the moment, Rob Zombie got it wrong once and is getting another go with Halloween II, they remade the Fog and Assault on Precinct 13 and Escape from New York, They Live and a prequel to The Thing are optioned..I love John Carpenters films but Halloween aside they were not uber hits.

    AS for the mocap stuff, I cannot see the point, in the examples given (Polar Express and Christmas Carol) whereas for Gollum there was justification.

    I think the reason Pixar do so well is they make animated films that happen to be 3D, despite the origins of these guys as techies I do not think they are driven by technology.

    For Christmas Carol, it must have been ‘if we use this technology we can film it all quickly and drop all the stuff in after and its all super modern and kids like computers…’

    What people also like is people and their myriad ways.

    I cannot imagine a CG character arriving on the scene like Clint does at the beginning of Dirty Harry and commanding the screen… maybe one day… but why bother!

    (I use Dirty Harry as an example because Clint never did too much… so surely it must be EASY.)

  12. Sam Tomaino says:

    They will never beat the Alastair Sim version. I first saw it on television when a NYC station showed it all Christmas week when I was 10.

    Sim is the only actor to bring Scrooge’s biting wit to the character. “There’s more of gravy than grave in you.”) Michael Hordern is the only actor to really seem like a soul in torment when he shrieks the line “Business! Mankind was my business!…” Most actors play Marley like he’s dead!

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