Making the Grades
When my son asked what my favorite part of the holiday season was, I sassily replied "Vacuuming up the pine needles after we have taken down the tree." Appalled, both he and my husband pronounced me a "Scrooge." Diagnosed with an ailing Christmas spirit, it was suggested that the best cure might be spending time with the man who's name has become synonymous with a "bah humbug" attitude.
With countless adaptations of the familiar Dickens' tale available, I chose to fill my prescription with the 1951 version staring Alastair Sim. Then I gathered my children around the glowing TV to share the medicine.
Even though it is missing all the colors (as my youngest child quickly pointed out), there is something very powerful about this traditional telling of the miserable miser who receives a very unusual Christmas present from his long deceased business partner. As Ebenezer Scrooge, Sim exudes sentiments of "you shouldn't have" when he is promised visits from three ghosts who hope to help him catch the spirit of the season. The apparitions personifying Christmas past, present and future, provide glimpses into Scrooge's neglected childhood and consequent self-centered pursuit of wealth that fashioned him into a jaded and bitter old man. While the first two specters are gentle and jolly, the third (draped in dark flowing fabric) is rather frightening-especially in black and white. After a pause of the tape and some reassurances, we continued the movie to see Sim's brilliant and witty performance as his greedy character is transformed by the joy of giving.
Judging by the story's enduring popularity, I'm not the only one who has traits in common with Mr. Scrooge, or who finds the associated commercialism and stresses of the season robbing me of its promised peace. A Christmas Carol (known as Scrooge in the UK) provides portrayals of Bob Cratchit's (Mervyn Johns) humble gratitude, Tiny Tim's (Glyn Dearman) faith and optimism, combined with a message of possible reformation for those of us who have (for the moment at least) lost sight of what matters most, making it the perfect tonic for the soul.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about A Christmas Carol.
The Ghost of Christmas Present opens his long robe to reveal two impoverished children seeking shelter underneath it. The Spirit introduces the girl as “Want” and the boy as “Ignorance.” What do these figures represent? Why are they clinging to Christmas? Why does the Spirit warn Scrooge to beware of them, especially the boy?
The neglect suffered in his youth appears to motivate Scrooge to place his own needs ahead of everything else. How did that decision contribute to the loneliness he experiences in later life?
At the end of the film Scrooge declares, ” I don’t deserve to be so happy.” What is the source of his happiness? How does the life of Scrooge illustrate “It is more blessed to give than to receive?” Can everyone find joy this way?