The Muppet Christmas Carol
Cert: U / 83 mins / Dir. Brian Henson
And so, after a mere 21 years, I finally get to see One Of The Greatest Films Of All Time in a cinema! GET IN! So yeah, I was already pre-decided on this one (as well as already having two versions of it in the house), but it wasn't going to stop me braving the elements on a Sunday morn to watch it on the big screen.
Every single frame of The Muppet Christmas Carol is an absolute joy to watch, and it's great to see an audience full of youngsters and their parents totally rapt for the entire duration of the film (it was also good to see the young boy in the row in front having a good bawl into his mum at the end, while his younger sister didn't seem that bothered by the emotional impact of the film. It reminds me of the time my sister and I went to see E.T.*1)
A lot of people have an 'it's not Christmas until I've seen…' movie and this is mine. As a rule, I enjoy most retellings of the story, but Henson's is the one which has me misty-eyed every time. Every. Time. It's also worth pointing out that for all the fun it has, the film is never disrespectful to the narrative or the ideals of the Dickens story, and is closer to the source text than many before or since. If you haven't seen The Muppets version yet (perhaps because it hasn't crossed your radar, perhaps because you think it'd be too dumbed-down), I can give it no higher recommendation. If you have seen it and you didn't like it; I'm afraid we can't be friends any more. My butler will show you out, good day.
Now, the only minor grumble I have about the film is still-missing number "When Love Is Gone", originally sang by Ebeneezer's fiancée, Belle, in the scene by the lake when she ends their relationship. It never made it to a theatrical version of the film, but was included in the original VHS release (read: my introduction to the film, in an age before DVD). It was removed because the studio didn't think the little ones would dig it. And to be fair, it does drop the film down a gear, particularly when you bear in mind that "Bless Us All" follows in a similar vein not too long afterwards. But not only does Belle's song add some much needed weight to the scene and to the Christmas Past segment of the film, it also sets up the music and lyrics of "When Love Is Found" in the finale. It seems crazy that such a powerful scene hasn't been reintroduced to the film yet, but hey.
As timeless as the story it's based on, The Muppet Christmas Carol should be on every festive watch-list. It's also quite possibly Michael Caine's greatest cinematic performance, but that's a ramble for the next time I see this in a cinema…
As much as I loved seeing it at the cinema, it is a DVD with a cheeky sherry or two….
1. In the finale, when Scrooge barges into Fred and Clara's house with presents, does anyone else look at Steven Mackintosh's face and think "Charles, why have we got that cage!?"
2. Does anyone know the catalogue-number of the full-screen DVD version (which has "The Love Is Gone", as per the VHS edit)?
Thanks in advance.
*1 23 years old, I was! Eh? Is this thing on? No, you shut up.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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