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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This is a much-shortened and family-friendly version of A Christmas Carol but it will nevertheless give viewers an insight into the work of Charles Dickens and the way people lived in Victorian times.
The value of kindness and generosity -- particularly toward those less fortunate than you. The importance of family and friendships. What it means to share what you have with others, and to love and support one another. A strong message throughout is that placing too much value on money and material possessions will not bring happiness. Overall, this moralistic tale demonstrates that greed and lovelessness can lead to spiritual ruin, but that no one is too old or too hardened to change their ways.
Positive Role Models
Bob Cratchit and his family are joyful, positive, and loving -- despite living in hardship. They show that money is not important, they enjoy simple pleasures, and they are seen sharing the little that they have. Scrooge shows the dangers of living a life focused on money and lacking love. By the end he becomes an excellent role model for change and redemption. Scrooge's nephew Fred is charming, friendly, and non-materialistic, appreciating the value of love and family. In keeping with the historical timeframe, the few female characters have little impact on the overall story, playing secondary roles as wives, fiancées, or daughters.
Violence & Scariness
Some angry words are exchanged between characters. Twice, characters are seen carrying a dead goose, both times its head is seen lolling back and forth. Creepy ghosts and an unnerving visit to a graveyard.
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Occasional rudeness includes "idiot" and "arse."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Character enthusiastically opens a bottle of port saying it's "cheering, warming, goodly." Later a character takes a swig from a glass of port. Two scenes in which a family (including the children) all take a drink of homemade punch. A toast is made with glasses of alcohol -- characters take a drink before playing a jolly party game.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Christmas Carol is a family-friendly take on the Dickens' classic about Ebenezer Scrooge (Reginald Owen), a miserly man who after being visited by ghosts changes his ways. While the presence of ghosts might be unnerving to some children -- particularly Marley's Ghost (Leo G. Carroll) and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come (D'Arcy Corrigan) -- they are largely unthreatening and the spookiness is balanced with moments of humor. The desperate plight of the Cratchit family is played down, and even Scrooge's meanness feels short-lived. Set in Victorian London, the few female characters that appear on screen are restricted to supporting roles with little impact on the overall story. There is occasional but enthusiastic drinking of alcohol. In two separate scenes, a family (including the children) all drink some homemade punch. Though the story is fundamentally about greed and redemption, this adaptation has a strong sense of optimism throughout and an ending that exudes unbridled festive joy. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This 1938 version of A Christmas Carol is a charming early adaptation of Charles Dickens' novella. It opens with a jolly Victorian Christmas scene and the promise of a warm and gentle journey through what is, at least in part, a dark and harrowing tale of redemption. Somehow the overall tone tends toward cheer and optimism, even as mean and miserly Scrooge is being shown the error of his selfish and judgmental ways.
The short runtime means the story is rather whizzed through, but it doesn't lose the essence of this cautionary tale, nor does it undermine the cast of classic characters. And while Dickens aficionados might feel short-changed, many viewers -- especially younger ones -- will find this a reasonably accessible and certainly entertaining retelling. Though made in 1938, this black and white production has a timeless feel to it. Indeed, the very fact that it was made so long ago probably makes it all the more atmospheric to a 21st century audience. And nobody, of any age, can fail to be uplifted by its ultimate festive message of goodwill to all.
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