I’m trying to remember the issues I used to have with Muppet Christmas Carol. Nothing’s coming.
You know, I have to confess that, in spite of my MA in literature, there are a lot of classic novels that I haven’t read; as an undergraduate and graduate student, the curriculum tended more towards the obscure and noncanonical. So while I’d experienced A Christmas Carol in other media, I’d never read it until this year. And now I’m rather kicking myself for missing out because it really is a great piece of well-crafted and clever prose that is by turns scary and funny and profound.
Now, everyone involved in making Muppet Christmas Carol likes to comment on how faithful it is to the original story…and they’re right, it is. However, no film adaptation is going to be a word-for-word recreation of the book–nor should it be. Therefore, there are necessarily a lot of good parts of the book that the movie is going to leave out, and Christmas Carol is no exception.
For example, I’ve never seen Fred’s speech to Scrooge defending Christmas rendered in its entirety in any adaptation, but here it is now:
“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!” (my emphasis)
First of all, I have to laugh at the part where Fred says that Christmas has never put a scrap of gold or silver in his pocket; clearly, Fred has never worked in retail.
More importantly, Dickens reminds us to think of the people who are left out in the cold at this time of year, whether literally or metaphorically. Whether it be through their own fault, the caprice of others, the arbitrary whims of fate, or some combination thereof, everyone is entitled to a baseline level of respect, not only at Christmas but at all times of the year.