Not Much Singing in “A Christmas Carol”

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An analysis of Christmas Movies

I suppose this article is based on my odd affinity for Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. Oh, and by the way, merry late Christmas. But as for my considerably strange relationship for this story, I have gone deep into the exploits of Ebenezer Scrooge, this including reading the initial story, watching a solid chunk of the numerous film adaptations and spoofs (including the Muppets and Mr. Magoo ones), and even performing as Peter Cratchit and the Turkey Boy in a stage performance at our local theatre. I have gone far enough to have memorized some of the lines and distinguish the more important ones and notice which parts the film adaptations cut. At one point, specifically while watching the Jim Carrey 2009 Animated Version, I thought about just how different ACC was from most other Christmas movies and stories. This got me thinking. Just how different is it, and why is it different? My initial thought was the lack of the character of Santa Claus, which could only be based on the timing, as there was no such Kris Kringle in 1843. I then thought not of the characters, nor the setting, but the plot. Here is where I realized that it is not as different as what I originally thought. See, in a nutshell, the plot consists of Scrooge being a selfish old jerk to everyone, him being haunted and tormented by a bunch of ghosts on Christmas Eve, and waking up the next day generous and thoughtful. In the end, the story is of a man going through psychological torment because he’s a jerk. My hypothesis at this point was that it was different in its psychological attack on the mind. Thinking of it this way, I could only identify one film like it in its plot, that being It’s a Wonderful Life(1946). The plot of that story is about a suicidal man being shown dismal visions of the future if he did not exist (It happens around Christmas time and has angels, so that’s how it fits in the genre of Christmas movies. If it didn’t, this film would really just be an extended Twilight Zone episode). Then I thought harder. Though those two feature extreme psychological torture from an outside force, most Christmas films are more subtle mental terror. My brain had completely left the question of Scrooge and moved on to the bigger picture. Something I should mention before moving on is the fact that all books, movies, any type of storytelling, needs conflict. Without something threatening some aspects of the characters’ lives, nothing would happen. There would be no reason to turn the next page. It would be… boring. The same rule applies to Christmas movies. Though Christmas is a time of joy, cheer, and other good things, these films must have some form of a bad guy, or there would be no reason to watch them; and I believe the trend is for the villain to be not a physical character, but the holiday of Christmas itself. There are a few films that take this literally, such as The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), and The Grinch (1967). In some Holiday films, the point is to achieve something before the deadline of Christmas, and for anyone who has or has to deal with deadlines, you know how much stress they cause. Films that fit this description include Jingle All the Way (1996), A Christmas Story (1983), Hawkeye (Show) (2021), and The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974). In most cases though, it is the mere presence of the holiday/Santa Claus that changes something in the characters’ lives. If you think about any Christmas Movie, you will find that Christmas is the root reason for the character’s changes. But is that so bad? Everyone is happy at the end of the movie, right? So, each Holiday, don’t let Christmas be the bad guy, or you’ll end up in a Christmas Movie