A Christmas Carol – ★★★  1/2

A Christmas Carol – ★★★ 1/2

A Christmas film that feels as old as time itself A Christmas Carol sees a tremendous overhaul in its visuals to become one of the more memorable adaptions of recent times.

A Christmas Carol follows a Victorian family as they prepare a toy-theatre for their annual performance of A Christmas Carol. The audience enters the imagination of one of the children and quickly the cardboard stage transforms to reveal a magical world containing real dancers and stylised sets.  The tale unfolds on screen in a rich tapestry of highly absorbing, haunting and theatrical drama with characters portrayed by dancers and voiced by an eclectic cast of incredible actors. The mix of danced action and spoken narration brings a completely new and exciting dimension to Dickens’ characters whilst remaining true to the beauty of his original narrative.

It is quite unlikely that you will see an iteration of A Christmas Carol quite like this and that is such a positive. If you are going to adapt this well-worn tale you need to make it stand out from the rest and directors David and Jacqui Morris succeeds excellently here. Utilising dance and theatre we have a unique visually appealing piece. The idea of having the performers acting out without any vocals.

Using a wide range of stars for the “speaking” roles such as Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, and Carey Mulligan, the true stars of A Christmas Carol are our on screen personas. Their free-flowing movements take you away on their journey in a film that rarely stops for a breather. Even when Scrooge is with the spirits, the movements are constant with not an ounce of effort wasted. The choreography from Russel Maliphant makes sure that our cast’s moves are purposeful. When the Ghost of Christmas Present details his portion to Scrooge, he surrounds him, envelopes him in his presence. He doesn’t let Scrooge think about anything else other than what he is showing and saying. Their performances are so strong that in truth you may not even need the narrators at all. Though they are warmly welcomed to enhance the story.

This utilisation of storytelling will come around again fairly soon with other famous stories (or hopeful new ones). David and Jacqui Morris have shown what is possible with this method and the gates are well and truly open. I can honestly say that if there are more adaptions akin to this then a large market has opened up. It is also important as those who possibly did not think you could do this will see its many positives and enhance upon it. Though for now, we can revel in what is a marvel of a production.

While the visuals and production take you in, it rather needs to as the story hasn’t changed much at all other than some dialogue. This could have been a version to fully step out of the comfort zone of the story, but it decides to play it safe. It is harmless in that regard, as there is a sense of safety in knowing what is coming next. The lack of risks in the script are most likely what cause the need for the narrators not to be there, instead replacing them with some wonderful music was an option. This is the only fault of the entire piece in truth. When a film takes such a large bold leap into the unknown, it needs to take the narrative with it.

Yet, this adaption works, and works very well. It breathes new life into an old tale. Despite seeing so many versions of A Christmas Carol on our screens, there will be as few as charming as this one that fully sweeps you away. A joy of a film.

★★★ 1/2

A Christmas Carol will be in UK Cinemas from 4th December.

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