A Christmas Carol: The beauty of modern film adaptations
Written by Zoe Stephenson on 19th January 2023
The best stories are eternal. They work in all ages. Charles Dickens’ novel and stories have never lost their popularity.
One of the reasons for this, of course, is that Dickens’ themes are universal. He might be writing about the mid-19th Century but his messages are still relevant today.
Perhaps the most relevant is A Christmas Carol. The moral of the story was for an audience at that time but the idea that we shouldn’t be greedy and should care about everyone around is one for all time.
There have been many film and stage adaptations. Some faithfully follow the original story, but they don’t have to: a film or a stage musical is a work of art in its own right.
The newest film adaption of this novel was released just last Christmas in 2022 to Netflix. It is a movie made for a family cosy night in at Christmas time to enjoy the classic tale in this modern day. This movie is simply called Scrooge: A Christmas Carol which is a nice new title for it to make it its own adaptation while showing that it is still the same story.
One feature that most movies use to enhance a novel to a movie adaptation is music. Music is commonly used in movies to show emotion and create an atmosphere that the audience can bring themselves into.
In terms of music in films, there has been studies done and there are videos online where you can research yourself into how music impacts a scene. One example of this is that an experiment was released online where you watch a man walking and each time you see that scene, the background music changes and the participants are asked to make assumptions to what the man is thinking and where he is going. This found that music can impact what the audience think about what is happening.
Linking this to this film adaptation, music is used to present different emotions that Dickens wanted to convey in his novel. One example of this from the earlier part of this movie is when the Ghost of Christmas Past is showing Scrooge his childhood. His little sister, Fanny, is seen singing a song outside where Scrooge was living and this shows the fragility of their young ages and their bond together; listening to her sing lights up poor Young Scrooge and he runs to her. The impact of this is that it creates this idea that Scrooge had a strong bond to his sister and Dickens wanted to present that and the music in the film adaptation was able to enhance that.
Another way that music is added is through when they see how Belle’s and Scrooge’s relationship breaks down to the point that she breaks up with him. In the novel, we learn that Belle breaks up with Scrooge due to how he put his work in front of her and this same idea is explored in the movie through how Belle sings a very powerful song to Scrooge with a lot of effects added to this scene to show the real breaking effect as if they are two worlds apart. I think this solo song from Belle was a very smart idea and it is one of my favourite scenes from this movie because it makes you feel connected to her and her emotions.
Music has been added to this movie because it is made to be a family film. Many family films have music incorporated in it somehow, whether that is background music or the characters singing how they feel and this is because it can make the movie more enjoyable. Music is a universal way of communicating and movies use this to their advantage.
Some scenes from the novel have been removed from the movie and this is expected to happen because it is an adaption to how the creators want to present that tale. Movies can become too long if they add in every chapter and every scene which is also another factor into why not every scene is added into these movie adaptations. One scene that isn’t seen in the movie is the Fezziwig party scene. This scene was used to show Scrooge enjoying himself and having a clear divide in his time for work and fun; Scrooge meets Belle in this scene as well. This scene isn’t seen in the movie and a reason for this is because they wanted to focus more on the breakdown of the relationship between Scrooge and Belle by adding in a big solo musical scene. Like I said before, a movie adaptation doesn’t have to follow the complete same storyline of the original novel because it is an adaptation for a reason; it is their own way to show their own version of the classic novel.
All of these adaptations add together to make a new piece of beautiful art for everyone of the family to watch and enjoy. It is fascinating to see how a novel written in a time before any of us were alive is still prevalent today and that is what makes a perfect tale.