A Christmas Carol (1969)
Over the last few years I’ve reviewed several adaptations of Charles Dickens seasonal story A Christmas Carol. As I stated previously one of the stories greatest strength is that it lends itself perfectly to multiple interpretations. I recently had the good fortune to rediscover the animated version from 1969 by Air Programs International. I remember seeing this animated short as a child but could not recollect sufficient details to allow me to track it down via the IMDB. Then by complete chance, I stumbled across it again on You Tube while doing some research.
This forty-six-minute-long adaptation was produced by an Australian animation company and has some curious and amusing regional embellishments. The voice acting lapses into Australian accents from time to time and there is an odd song dovetailed into Fred's visit to his Uncle Ebenezer. It's as if the production team where toying with the idea of making a musical and then had second thoughts. However, despite these foibles the functional animation and aesthetic style is grimly appropriate, capturing the grey and dreary Dickensian winter.
The most innovative aspect of this particular adaptation is the inventive depiction of Marley’s Ghost. Unlike other versions of the story that portray Marley as a spectral version of his former human self, here we have a very stylised ghost. His hair is more akin to naked flames which is a rather interesting interpretation of the source text. "The Ghost sat perfectly motionless, its hair, and skirts, and tassels, were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven". In addition, the sightless black sockets are rather ghoulish, making this one of the most sinister portrayals of the character.
Overall this is a functional adaptation that manages to convey the key elements of the story. To be honest the story is quite difficult to spoil, unless you are a particularly blinkered film maker. As this version was specifically designed to be pitched at younger audiences, there is some levity introduced into the proceedings. Scrooge continuously stifles a sneeze throughout the story, something that he cannot resolve until he is "redeemed". There are far worse adaptations of this classic tale, so for those who are curious or are just interested in the art of animation, here is the 1969 version for your enjoyment.