Disney's A Christmas Carol
Disney and the Dark Side
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time," "Cinema Classics," and "On the Marquee"
"Secret and self-contained and solitary as an oyster." Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Carol"
Disney and the dark side are rarely synonymous. The sugar dripping from the castle seems ceaseless. Yet one of its better films to come out recently is Disney's A Christmas Carol, which features real and personified death in such prominence that even the dark Dickens might be surprised.
Although the 3-D has plentiful, pretty cool, and too many aerial flights, it's the emphasis on the end of Scrooge that I noticed more than ever in another of the many iterations of the classic Christmas story. While Patrick Stewart's Scrooge may have emphasized the complexity of the lonely miser, as a great British actor is wont to do, Jim Carrey's less than British highbrow narrows the focus not on acting but on action, the selfish kind that leads to a lonely end as the just desserts for a closed life.
An extended and overly long sequence with a hearse chasing Scrooge through the streets of London emphasizes his death closing in on him with only remorse and a change of attitude stopping the relentless charge of retribution.
I am not a fan of 3-D, yet it works here to allow the high angle perspective of one surveying his life before it closes, removed physically but spiritually connecting with a life that needs saving?his own. The addition of IMAX to the mix helps as well to transport the story into the universal with its sweeping mise en scene including beggars and bureaucrats in the lesson.The performance-capture animation is still a dazzling innovation Zamekis has used well in Polar Express and Beowulf.
Disney must be praised for not throwing some of its abundant sugar over this bleak but redemptive morality tale. Every child over 7 years old should absorb the simple theme of leading a loving life so that the end of it might be filled with the love generously given while living.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, Cinema Classics, and On the Marquee, which can be heard streaming at http://publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/ppr/index.shtml and on demand at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/arts.artsmain
Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com