A Christmas Carol Review

REVIEW: A Christmas Carol (2020)

Christmas is nearing once again and with it comes yet another Christmas Carol reimagining. However, this is no normal adaptation, this is an extremely unconventional telling; we open with a Victorian family sitting to hear the story of A Christmas Carol with the grandmother reading from the text (she is also our narrator) and the children performing with the use of a cardboard theatre, changing the backdrops and characters cut from cardboard. We are then taken into the imagination of the youngest child with the cardboard set brought to life.

A Christmas Carol Review

This Dickens adaptation is wholly unlike the others because it is first and foremost performed entirely through dance. The performers do not speak, the speech has been recorded and added separately by a number of well-known names such as Andy Serkis, Carey Mulligan, Daniel Kaluuya and Martin Freeman. It takes some getting used to hearing the speech but seeing no mouths moving I can tell you, but it really does work, there is something quite magical about it, it is marvellously creative.

The production design is something really special; the sets are incredibly created, they have this beautiful Victorian yet otherworldly feel to them and you really do believe you are inside the children’s toy theatre and back in the times the book was written. This adaptation uses a lot more of the novel’s text, and it really is an amazing mix; Dickens exceptional prose alongside the modern and interpretive dance of the performers. Through the dance and aided by the text you really feel the emotions of the characters.

A Christmas Carol Review

As A Christmas Carol is so well known, I’m sure there is no-one who doesn’t know the story, but if you were not familiar I can assure you, you lose nothing here with this artistic interpretation. There are all the usual beats; the three spirits, the progressive change in scrooge and the upbeat feel-good ending. I think this is definitely a film to watch this Christmas, it really is stunning both visually in its design and through the performance. I don’t think I will be adding it to my annual list of Christmas films as I prefer something a little more traditional myself but I am really pleased I watched this as it brings together a number of the arts in a fantastic work of British fiction.

A Christmas Carol will be showing in theatres and cinemas from 4th December. The film will not be released digitally in a bid to support struggling venues this Christmas. You can buy tickets here:

A Christmas Carol (2020) Animation, Drama | 27 November 2020 (UK)
Director: Jacqui MorrisWriter: Charles DickensStars: Carey Mulligan, Martin Freeman, Andy SerkisSummary: A reinvention of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The radical new take on Dickens' classic seeks both to exhume the original story's gritty commentary on social inequality and the corrupting influence of greed, and to breathe new life into the lyricism of the original text by setting its scenes to extraordinary tableaux of modern dance. The opening scenes of the film follow a Victorian family preparing a toy theatre for their annual performance of 'A Christmas Carol'. As the family's grandmother narrates the much-edited story and her grandchildren change the scenery, we enter the imagination of one of the children in the audience and watch as the cardboard stage, and the story with it, transforms into a darkly fantastical otherworld.


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