Friday, December 9, 2011

25 Days of Christmas Movies, Day 9: An "Animated" Carol (oh the puns!)

Today is probably one of the strangest schedules that we've had yet at school this year, due to an assembly that had to be held in the auditorium.  Whenever the auditorium must be used and the whole school is attending, it means that the school is split into two groups.  Then one group goes to the assembly while the others go to their classes and then they switch off.  I lucked out today, because the assembly took place during 5th period (which is my planning period on Friday), so I had no students to be responsible for nor did I have to hold an hour period with those students.  I did, however, get affected by the modified schedule in the morning...where our first four periods suddenly became 15 minutes each.  That's just enough time to take role, tell the kids what to expect on Monday, and then watch them scurry out as the bell rings.  Thankfully, the day has passed quickly and without much annoyance and everywhere you can see people getting psyched up for Christmas (which means, teachers are more lethargic from exhaustion and students are squirrelly knowing that break and presents are within a week's grasp).  A week from today I will be one period away from Christmas freedom, and I couldn't be more excited.  Speaking of Christmas, I have another "Carol" for you today, this one the most recent of the versions available...having just been released in 2009.  It tells the same familiar story of Scrooge while also adding in a special visual flair that could not have been achieved before now.  Without futher delay, let's dive into Robert Zemeckis' motion-captured A Christmas Carol.  (I'll do you a favor and skip the summary)

We all know the story of Scrooge and how his life is saved by the timely intervention of three spirits on Christmas Eve.  His story has never been as fast-paced and action-packed however.  Zemeckis and company have taken Dickens' book and translated it almost perfectly to the screen, even keeping elements that are often cut out...like Christmas Present's urchins, Want and Ignorence.  However, in addition to those wonderful literary elements, we are treated to a great deal of action sequences where Scrooge is whisked around from here to there and violently tossed about in order to fully utilize the visual capabilities of the motion-capture animation medium.  Where Scrooge might be gently transported to the past in previous versions, now he is dragged and thrown by Christmas Past (in this version, a candle and flame) into the different time periods.  What used to be a somber tour with Christmas-Yet-To-Come, is now a riotous chase through London as Scrooge is nearly killed several times by a demonic horse-drawn herse.  These moments tend to be a little jarring for one expecting a more sublte film experience like the Alastar Sim or George C. Scott versions and I can see why.  It does not feel like a classy film for these reasons, or at least what we think a classy film should be, which is a shame because it turns off people who would have really loved how close to the source the film was.  However, to punish the film for making potentially dull scenes exciting is not fair in my eyes which is why I've taken to liking this Carol and include it as one of my favorite versions due to it's dark visual style and adherence to the source.  It is the version I have always wanted to see and missteps only in that it moves a little too fast between scenes, making me wish the brisk 90 minutes was closer to 120.  Kids will love this Carol and visually it is the best looking of the versions so you can't go wrong if you add it to your family Christmas lineup.

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