Weekend Review: A Christmas Carol (1999)

We’ve reviewed a couple of the numerous adaptations of this classic tale, here and here, and we’ve more to come. This 1999 adaptation is Number One in the hearts of many SF fans, thanks to its stellar lead.

Title: A Christmas Carol

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Directed by David Hugh Jones

Written by Peter Barnes from the novella by Charles Dickens.

Patrick Stewart as Ebeneezer Scrooge
Richard E. Grant as Bob Cratchit
Bernard Lloyd as Marley’s Ghost
Joel Grey as the Ghost of Christmas Past
Desmond Barrit as the Ghost of Christmas Present
Tim Potter as the Ghost of Christmas to Come
Ian McNeice as Albert Fezziwig
Dominic West as Fred
Kenny Doughty as Young Scrooge
Laura Fraser as Belle
Saskia Reeves as Mrs. Cratchit
Claire Slater as Martha Cratchit
Annette Badland as Mrs Fezziwig
Ben Tibber as Tiny Tim

Additional cast and crew may be found here.

Available at Amazon.


In early Victorian London, there lives a miserly old man, and…. Okay, seriously? Does anyone not know the story already? The full text may be found here

High Points:

Certainly, the lead performance makes this one to remember, but more on that later. We also get over-the-top appearances by the Fezziwig family, who live up to the Dickensian silliness of their name.

This adaptation distinguishes itself by including certain scenes often missing from others. The Ghost of Christmas Present not only takes Scrooge to Fred’s house and the Cratchits’ -—he also shows him, as in the novella, an assortment of people celebrating Christmas under atypical circumstances, from a lighthouse to a ship at sea to a mining town.

Low Points:

The production, while not poor, gives the film away as a made-for-television film. It’s serviceable, certainly, but a number of scenes look a little cheaper than they might have.

The Scores:

Originality: 1/6 At this point, very little can be added to make this story original

Effects: 4/6 The effects combine some impressive CGI landscapes and settings with some inexpensive traditional visual effects.

Story: 6/6 This story stays close to the source, and I have trouble giving a lower rating to something that has succeeded so well for so long. Dickens employs every manipulative trick in the book, but I’m convinced he believed in his platitudes.

Acting: 5/6 An adaptation of this story can only be as good as its lead. Patrick Stewart gives us a charmingly demonic Scrooge, one who smiles and verges on laughter when he’s asked to donate to charity. “I take it,” he asks those soliciting, “you gentlemen are new to the district?” Nevertheless, we see the lonely, broken man beneath the dark exterior from the first scene, and Stewart gives us a Scrooge who transforms gradually.

The cast generally gives strong performances, with subtle touches that bring out the nuances in the exaggerated characters.

Production: 4/6

Emotional Response: 5/6

Overall: 5/6

In total, A Christmas Carol receives 30/42.