Roar writer Bianca Jituboh reviews the new 2020 film, A Christmas Carol.
A Christmas Carol, directed by the BAFTA award sibling winners Jacqui Morris and David Morris, is a rather theatrical film. The movie is set to be released in cinemas and select theatres this December in order to support the financial hardship that the world of cinema has been enduring since the Covid-19 crisis hit. Jacqui Morris said: “I am thrilled to offer theatres a chance to screen the film to help raise funds and keep doors ajar until patrons can return in full capacity.”
The scene is set as a Victorian family prepares for their annual performance of “A Christmas Carol” by sharing stories about the magic of Christmas. The stories are presented on a cardboard stage and narrated by the grandmother. The cardboard quickly turns into animation through the eyes of a little girl, as she lets her imagination run wild. From there, the audience gets pulled into a magical world filled with costume sets, contemporary dancers, theatrical drama and voice-over narrations by an outstanding cast including Simon Russell Beale, Martin Freeman, Carey Mulligan, Daniel Kaluuya and many more.
The illustrations tell the story of a middle-aged man named Scrooge, who through his entire life has been grumpy, unwelcoming and quite distant from the people in his life. It is Christmas Eve and Scrooge is at work with his assistant, not worrying about this crucial time of the year and lacking in the Christmas spirit. The voice-over narration supplemented with contemporary dancing instantly has the audience teleported into a musical theatre piece. Although the characters don’t articulate their voices on screen, the dance motion blends in perfectly with the synopsis. As Scrooge gets home from work and goes to bed (after being unpleasant with a few people on his way home), he receives several visits from the ghosts of Christmas past while at sleep.
The ghosts are there to make him look back on his poor life choices, and Scrooge is challenged to look back on his careless and selfish decisions. Over the years, he had been heartless towards his employee and his struggling family; he had shown no interest towards his close ones and he had looked past people in need. These scenes aren’t only painful for Scrooge to go through, but also for the audience who has to witness moments of solitude, pain, grief, wickedness, or even ignorance. The actors do an amazing job at translating those emotions through largely silent scenes. The decor and setting of each stage elegantly capture the message and time period of every sequence.
This unconsciously leaves the viewers thinking about all the times they may have been unpleasant to someone, and how kinder they need to be from now on. As Scrooge wakes up from his sleep, he realises that he’s been given a second chance; a second chance to be kind to his loved ones, to strangers, to the world. He is overwhelmed with joy and decides to bring light to every person he has brought darkness to. He finally indulges in the holiday spirit and celebrates the magic that is Christmas.
David and Jacqui Morris’ retelling of A Christmas Carol is showing in cinemas and theatres now. Book tickets here.