A Christmas Carol (1984)

  • Review Date: May 13, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1984
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Bleak but solid adaptation of Dickens' classic.
  • Review Date: May 13, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1984
  • Running Time: 100 minutes





What parents need to know

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

Scrooge is greedy, selfish, and lacks compassion -- but in the end he sorely regrets this behavior.


Ghosts! Cruel, tormenting ghosts!

Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that in this movie, 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. 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.

Parents say

Kids say

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 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. It's perhaps the finest version yet of this often-told story, right up there with the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim, but it's not for everyone.

This is 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how we make right our wrongs.

  • 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 do you

  • make things right?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1984
DVD release date:October 5, 1999
Cast:David Warner, Frank Finlay, George C. Scott
Director:Clive Donner
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Topics:Book characters, Holidays, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic intensity

This review of A Christmas Carol (1984) was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 2, 5, and 9 year old Written byAuntieMom December 28, 2010
Absolutely love this movie!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old December 23, 2009

Not Scary, but boring

hated this movie, had 2 watch it in school... i watched the first 45 minutes... my teacher turned it off because nobody wanted to watch it.
Kid, 10 years old January 17, 2011
hate it not a good movie
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models


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