A Christmas Carol (1984)

Movie review by
Scott G. Mignola, Common Sense Media
A Christmas Carol (1984) Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Bleak but solid adaptation of Dickens' classic.
  • PG
  • 1984
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 11 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Dicken's classic tale of compassion has been through so many incarnations, but it still presents an important and eloquent message that doesn't fail.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Scrooge is greedy, selfish, and lacks compassion -- but in the end he sorely regrets this behavior. He learns compassion, integrity, empathy, and gratitude.

Violence

Ghosts! Cruel, tormenting ghosts!

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that in A Christmas Carol, the granddaddy of morality tales, Dickens' timeless material looks unglamorously at 19th century English life and shows us how wrong turns, if not righted, can lead good people astray. This adaptation originally premiered as a TV movie in 1984. The music dramatically complements a finely adapted script. Delivered dryly, the humor hits its mark; you can't help laughing at Scrooge's expense. Despite the valuable message, this version may be too dark and frightening for some. There's plenty here for the entire family to enjoy, and even shed a few tears over. But the scenes are bleak. Glimpses of desperate families and sickly children. A once bitter and resentful man anguishes over the pain he's caused others. Glimpses of a tortured childhood place partial blame for Scrooge's condition on an uncaring father.

Wondering if A Christmas Carol (1984) is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMoreAlex December 17, 2018

The Best "A Christmas Carol" Adaption

I started watching this movie as an annual tradition with my family as a young child and it has become a staple in my life even at age 32. I have watched this m... Continue reading
Adult Written byLucasK 1 December 16, 2017

Must

Has everything to do with Christmas and belief!!! Best for kids young and old
Teen, 14 years old Written byStarWars10451 November 20, 2016

A MUST See Christmas Movie!

I love A Christmas Carol, it's a great Christmas story about a crotchety old miser learning the spirit of Christmas and changing his hard cruel ways. I wou... Continue reading
Kid, 7 years old December 4, 2012

9

Only watch this if your 9 or older because its a little confusing and scary

What's the story?

In A CHRISTMAS CAROL, the ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge's business partner pays him a visit on Christmas Eve. Bound in the chains of greed and contempt he forged in life, Marley warns tightfisted Ebenezer that he awaits the same fate if he doesn't change his ways. "You will be visited by three spirits," Marley tells him, and at the stroke of 1 a.m., Scrooge awakens to the first of them, who leads him through his past to revisit the poor choices that made him the man he is. A second spirit shows him the present, and the dreadfully silent final spirit presents grim shadows of Christmases yet to come. At the sight of his own lonely grave, Scrooge breaks down and begs forgiveness, vowing sincerely to carry the spirit of Christmas in his heart all year round.

Is it any good?

This 1984 retelling of the Charles Dickens classic is perhaps the finest version yet of this often-told story, right up there with the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim. It boasts an exceptional cast (among them Frank Finlay as Jacob Marley and David Warner as the put-upon Bob Cratchit), splendid costumes and backdrops, and a timelessness that comes from smart filmmaking and avoidance of gaudy effects that too soon show their age.

This version of A Christmas Carol isn't for everyone, though. It's a painfully expressive movie filled with bleak, chilling imagery. Children may shudder at the sight of crutch-ridden Tiny Tim, whose pale flesh and sunken eyes make him in some ways a more disturbing apparition than the shrieking, milky-eyed ghost, Marley. Scrooge, magnificently played by George C. Scott, is a sneering, despicable tightwad who delights in his humbuggery, yet goes almost willingly with his phantom guides as only a man seeking atonement would. When he breaks down at the end and pleads for forgiveness, he's a pitiable sight, and there can be no doubt that he is truly saved.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how we make right our wrongs, as Scrooge does in A Christmas Carol. How do you recognize your wrongs? Do you find them on your own, or do you, like Scrooge, need someone else to help you see them?

  • How does Scrooge learn compassion and empathy in A Christmas Carol? What about integrity and gratitude? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love holidays

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate