A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

We went to see this as a family over Christmas. Unanimous verdict? – ‘brilliant’. I don’t know how it’s done, but the computer animation is breathtaking. Going in I was sceptical of an American (Jim Carrey) as Scrooge’s voice, but he does a compelling job. The atmosphere is suitably dark (kids under 10 could be scared, but hey, they’ll get over it) for a story which for most of the time is Dickensian bleakness at its best. As a parable it is a fearful moralistic tale. The appearance of Jacob Marley is refreshingly hellish and the passing of the ghost of Christmas present is done with grim visual relish. All this takes you right into Scrooge’s experience of terror, regret and horror, the latter reaching its climax as he accompanies the ghost of Christmas to come.

The redemption of Scrooge is not of course explicitly Christian, but there are notes of grace that powerfully stand out. I thought the scene where he hesitatingly takes up his nephew’s offer of dinner, expecting mocking rejection, was very moving. Here Scrooge enters gospel territory: desperately needing forgiveness, truly lost and undeserving of love and mercy, he comes repentant, seeking acceptance, weakly hoping for a place perhaps. What he receives is joy, celebration and a feast in relationship with others. Strong echoes of another parable teller and his stories of invitations and banquets.

Scrooge’s transformation from humanity-hating miser to humanity-loving benefactor was captured joyously and deep down seems so ‘good and right’ – it is for love of others that we are made. Yes, God is left out, but this is a parable not a systematic theology and it packs a lot of truth. That fella Dickens could tell a story all right.


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